Military Wiki
Franklin Buchanan
Portrait of Admiral Buchanan
Born (1800-09-17)September 17, 1800
Died May 11, 1874(1874-05-11) (aged 73)
Place of birth Baltimore, Maryland
Place of death Talbot County, Maryland
Place of burial Wye House family plot outside Easton, Maryland
Allegiance  United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
 Confederate States Navy
Years of service USN 1815–1861
CSN 1861–1865
Rank USN cpt rank insignia.jpg Captain (USN)
Csn strap flag.png Admiral (CSN)
Commands held USS Vincennes
USS Germantown
USS Susquehanna
James River Squadron
CSS Virginia
CSS Tennessee

Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Other work College president and businessman

Franklin Buchanan (September 17, 1800 – May 11, 1874) was an officer in the United States Navy who became the only full admiral in the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War, and commanded the ironclad CSS Virginia.

Early life

Buchanan was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the fifth child and third son of a physician, George Buchanan and Laetitia McKean Buchanan.[1] The Buchanan side of his family arrived in the United States from Scotland. He became a midshipman in 1815, was promoted to lieutenant in 1825, commander in 1841 and captain in 1855.[1]

During the 45 years he served in the U.S. Navy, Buchanan had extensive and worldwide sea duty. He commanded the sloops of war Vincennes and Germantown during the 1840s and the steam frigate Susquehanna in the Perry expedition to Japan during the 1850s.[1]

From 1845 to 1847, he served as the first Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, followed by notable Mexican-American War service. From 1859 to 1861, Captain Buchanan was the Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard. During the Civil War, he joined the Confederate forces.[1]

Civil War

Buchanan was the captain of the ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) during the Battle of Hampton Roads in Virginia.[2] He climbed to the top deck of Virginia and began furiously firing toward shore with a carbine as the USS Congress was shelled.[3] He soon was brought down by a sharpshooter's minie ball to the thigh. He would eventually recover from his leg wound. He never did get to command Virginia against the USS Monitor. That honor went to Catesby ap Roger Jones. But Buchanan had handed the United States Navy the worst defeat it would take until Pearl Harbor.[4]

Captain Franklin Buchanan & Josiah Tattnall.

In August 1862, Buchanan was promoted to the rank of admiral and sent to command Confederate naval forces at Mobile Bay, Alabama.[5] He oversaw the construction of the ironclad CSS Tennessee and was on board her during the Battle of Mobile Bay with Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut's Union fleet on 5 August 1864.[6] Wounded and taken prisoner, Admiral Buchanan was not exchanged until February 1865.[6] He was on convalescent leave until the Civil War ended a few months later.

Later life

Following the conflict, Buchanan lived in Maryland, then was a businessman in Mobile until 1870, when he again took up residence in Maryland. He died there on May 11, 1874. He is buried at the Wye House family plot outside Easton, Maryland.

In memoriam

Three U.S. Navy destroyers have been named in honor of Admiral Franklin Buchanan: Buchanan (DD-131), (DD-484) and (DDG-14). See USS Buchanan for U.S. Navy ships named in his honor. The Superintendent's quarters at the United States Naval Academy is also named the Buchanan House.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Quarstein, "Franklin Buchanan"
  2. Symonds, p. 152.
  3. Jones, Terry L., Historical dictionary of the Civil War, Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2011, p . 638.
  4. United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Volume 88, U.S. Naval Institute, 1962, p. 68.
  5. Tucker, Spencer, Almanac of American military history, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2013, p. 668.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Symonds, p. 254.


External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Superintendent of United States Naval Academy
Succeeded by
George P. Upshur
Preceded by
French Forrest
Commander of the James River Squadron
February 27, 1862 – March 29, 1862
Succeeded by
Josiah Tattnall
Academic offices
Preceded by
Charles Minor
President of the Maryland Agricultural College
Succeeded by
Samuel Register

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