Military Wiki
George Dewey
Born (1837-12-26)December 26, 1837
Died January 16, 1917(1917-01-16) (aged 79)
Place of birth Montpelier, Vermont
Place of death Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Washington National Cathedral
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1858 – 1917
Rank Admiral of the Navy
Commands held Asiatic Squadron
General Board of the United States Navy

American Civil War

Spanish-American War

Admiral Dewey as he appears at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

George Dewey's signature

George Dewey (December 26, 1837 – January 16, 1917) was an admiral of the United States Navy. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. He is also the only person in the history of the United States to have attained the rank of Admiral of the Navy, the most senior rank in the United States Navy.

Early life

Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vermont, directly opposite the Vermont State House, to Julius Yemans Dewey and his first wife, Mary Perrin.[1][2] Julius was a physician who received his degree from The University of Vermont. He was among the founders of the National Life Insurance Company in 1848[1][3] and a member of the Episcopal Church and was among the founders of the Christ Episcopal Church in Montpelier. George was baptized and attended Sunday school there. George had two older brothers and a younger sister.[4]

Dewey attended school in the nearby town of Johnson. When he was fifteen years old he went to the Norwich Military School.[5] The school, better known as Norwich University, had been founded by Alden Partridge and aimed at giving cadets a well-rounded military education. Dewey attended for two years (1852–1854).[1] Dewey found a military role model when he read a biography of Hannibal.[5]

Naval career

Naval Academy

Dewey entered the Naval Academy in 1854. The conventional four-year course had just been introduced in 1851 and the cadet corps was quite small, averaging about one hundred Acting Midshipmen.[1] Out of all that entered in his year, only fourteen stayed through the course. He stood fifth on the class roll at graduation.[5] He graduated from the academy on June 18, 1858.[1]


As midshipman, Dewey first took a practice cruise in the ship Saratoga and here he earned recognition as a cadet officer. As a result, he was assigned to one of the best ships of the old navy — the steam frigate USS Wabash.[5] The Wabash under Captain Samuel Barron was the new flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron. On July 22, 1858, the ship left Hampton Roads for Europe.[1] The Wabash reached her first port of call, Gibraltar, on August 17, 1858. She cruised in the Mediterranean, and the cadet officers visited the cities of the old world accessible to them, often taking trips inland. Dewey was assigned to keep the ship's log.[5] The Wabash returned to the New York Navy Yard on 16 December 1859 and decommissioned there on 20 December 1859. Dewey served on two short-term cruises in 1860.

During the Civil War, the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, was engaged in the blockade of the mouths of the Mississippi River. At the end of 1861 Commander David D.Porter urged action upon the Navy Department. By that time the Confederates had formed immensely strong defenses along the river delta. The plan, which was put into operation in the spring of 1862, proposed a naval expedition, intended to reduce the fortifications near the mouth of the river, and to capture New Orleans, to be followed by an army under General Benjamin Franklin Butler which would then take possession of that city and region, after which the war vessels would proceed up the river, reduce the forts along its banks and co-operate with the gunboats already commanding the upper part of the valley, and later with the Union armies operating in Tennessee and northern Mississippi. This plan was ultimately carried out, but it required more time, cost of life and material, and combat than were anticipated; and it gave Dewey invaluable experience.[5]

Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip

The defenses of the river consisted of two immensely strong forts, Jackson and St. Philip, on the banks nearly opposite one another and about midway between the mouth of the river and New Orleans. Farther up there was also a series of strong waterside batteries at Chalmette. In addition to this the Confederates had established a line of obstructions across the river below the forts. The defenses were such as it was supposed no naval expedition would try to attack. The attack was aided by Porter's preliminary bombardment to weaken the Confederate works. This was accomplished with mortar boats that fired a thirteen-inch shell. They were anchored under protection of the banks and forest some distance below the forts, and for many days rained upon them continual fire as to half destroy the fortifications, and overcome a large part of the Confederate garrisons.[5] This conflict is known as the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

Capture of New Orleans

The Capture of New Orleans followed. At the end of this preliminary bombardment an attempt was made to run past the forts and the Confederate vessels gathered near them. This was begun on April 24, 1862, the fleet moving forward in three divisions, the first under command of Captain Theodorus Bailey in the Cayuga, followed closely by the Pensacola (afterward under Dewey's command), and that by the Mississippi, in which Dewey was executive lieutenant. These big ships kept near the west bank where the current was weaker and the water deeper; but this brought them right under the muzzles of the guns of Fort St. Philip, which had been little damaged by the mortar boats. Dewey guided the Mississippi, in shallow water where he expected to run aground any moment, to a successful attack against the fortifications.[5]

CSS Manassas

The Confederates had afloat there a small iron-covered ram named Manassas — a cigar-shaped craft almost wholly submerged, but with the nose as a sharp iron prow, designed to pierce a hull of an enemy's ship beneath the water line. She had rushed down the river and struck at everything in her way. She appeared suddenly from behind the Pensacola, as that vessel was slowing up opposite Fort St. Philip to enable her men to fire more effectively into the garrison, then had made a rush for the Mississippi. Dewey steered his helm to avoid her prow and escaped. Her upper structure pierced with shot but her machinery uninjured, the ram continued and nearly destroyed both the Brooklyn and Hartford before she was driven off. She the returned up the river in pursuit of Bailey's ships, which were leading the way toward New Orleans. Farragut signaled to the Mississippi to run her down. The Mississippi attacked, but just as the Union vessel was to ram her, the Manassas dodged with a quick turn of the helm. However, she ran aground and her crew reluctantly deserted the stranded ship. Commander Smith sent a boat's crew to set fire to the iron-clad, which was then finished of with cannon fire.[5]

Having succeeded in passing the forts, the Mississippi sailed up river with the leading ships, until they reached the Chalmette batteries. These they destroyed with their garrisons. Dewey was sent back with some others to a wait near the forts and protect the landing of Butler's troops. This was Dewey's first battle in which he distinguished himself. For the remainder of that year Farragut's fleet patrolled the lower river — dangerous work, since, the banks swarmed with sharpshooters lying in wait among the trees. Occasionally, the Confederates erected a concealed battery, running two or three field guns up behind the natural breastworks of the levee and opening fire upon any ship passing nearby.[5]

Battle of Port Hudson

George Dewey

At Port Hudson, Louisiana, the Confederates had been constructing and strengthening their second line of defense of the river valley, until they considered it impregnable. The national forces had been unable to prevent this; but, when the spring campaign of 1863 began, it was of such importance for the river to be opened, that Farragut resolved to attempt to run by the Port Hudson batteries, if he could not demolish them. The whole fleet was arranged for this attempt on March 14, 1863. At midnight, Dewey saw fiercer fighting than he was ever to see again. Port Hudson was a small town on the east bank of the Mississippi, 13 miles upriver from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. At a point there, the river takes a course which generates marked anxiety for pilots, even in daylight and in time of peace. In the spring of 1863, a crescentic series of powerful fortifications, having a concentric field of fire, bordered the outside of the bend. The gunners were aided at night by the illumination of the water afforded by setting fire to huge beacons and rafts of pine knots. They also had the benefit of submarine torpedoes in the channel and of several armed vessels and rams which, together, made the attempt of an enemy's fleet to attack or run by very hazardous. Nevertheless, Flag Officer Farragut, with the consent of his captains, prepared to run the risk.[5]

The fleet, led by the USS Hartford (1858), stole up the river in midnight darkness and quiet; and, were not discovered until opposite the forts. Following the flagship, was the USS Richmond (1860), her guns blazing. Then came the USS Monongahela (1862), the USS Kineo (1861) and the steam frigate USS Mississippi, the last with George Dewey as executive officer under Melancton Smith as commander. A furious fight ensued, the battle of Port Hudson pronounced by officers and seamen involved as the most severe in the naval history of the civil war.[5]

The Hartford got past and sailed on; but, a machinery accident compelled Richmond to attempt turning about to escape. She did so successfully; but, when at the midpoint of the semicircle of batteries, Mississippi, close behind, ran aground and was the target of concentrated enemy fire. This continued for half an hour, riddling her hull, ruining her upper works and smashing her machinery. All this time, the vessel was replying with such vigor that more than two hundred and fifty shots were fired, despite the vessel's damage. Captain Smith, seeing there was no hope of extricating his ship, ordered it abandoned. The boats were manned; and, the wounded were transported to the Union gunboat USS Genesee (1862), which had approached to render assistance. The men were mostly landed in safety on the west bank.[5]

All of this time, the fire of the batteries continued; and, Captain Smith and Lieutenant Dewey stayed aboard directing operations. A man was sent to fire the fore magazine. He did so; but, before the blaze was well started, three of the enemy's shells blew through that part of the ship, admitting enough water to drown the flames. Other fires were started; and, the last boatload of men waited to insure there was no possibility of Confederate capture of the ship. Subsequently, Smith and Dewey escaped to the Richmond, a mile downstream. Lightened by the fire and by the removal of three hundred men, the ship broke free of the mud and floated downstream, her previously loaded guns firing away, endangering Richmond and other Federal vessels near which she drifted.[5]

Assignment to the USS Agawam

Dewey was highly complimented by his immediate superiors and by Farragut himself, who appointed him executive officer of the Agawam — a small gunboat the admiral used frequently as for dispatches and his personal reconnoitering. This little vessel was frequently under fire by concealed sharpshooters and temporary batteries. In July of that year a small engagement at Donaldsonville, Louisiana, resulted in the death Captain Abner Read, of Monongahela, and the severe wounding of his executive officer. Dewey was present; and, was so conspicuous for gallantry that he was recommended for promotion on the strength of it. Meanwhile, he was given temporary command of the frigate.[5]

Assignment to the USS Colorado

In the latter part of 1864, after some service in the James River under Commander McComb, Lieutenant Dewey was made executive officer of the first-rate wooden man-of-war Colorado, which was stationed on the North Atlantic blockading squadron under command of Commodore Henry Knox Thatcher.

Battles of Fort Fisher

Blockade was an exceedingly important part of the war plan. But, blockade was never so complete that no vessels could pass. Totality became nearly a reality toward the close of the war. This was a matter of international import, precluding the Confederates receiving the foreign supplies upon which they so greatly depended.[5]

During the war, large numbers of blockade runners were captured or driven ashore and wrecked. The profit on a single cargo that passed, either way, in safety was immense. Special blockade runners were built in England and Europe as the South had minimal shipbuilding capability.

The Confederate government enacted a law requiring that a portion of every cargo entering its ports consist of arms or ammunition. Otherwise, the vessel and its cargo could be confiscated. This helped insure a regular supply of war materiel. To pay for these things, Confederates shipped cotton, tobacco, rice and naval stores such as masts, spars and rope produced in the south-eastern forests. Strenuous Union efforts attempted to choke off this trade and communication, making the European traders functionally allies of the Confederacy. Such officers as Lieutenant George Dewey demonstrated the ability to be where they were needed. And, they were especially needed in the North Atlantic division, covering such ports as Wilmington, North Carolina, where blockade running flourished.[5]

It was to close the port of Wilmington, as much as to reduce the only coast fortification left to the South, that a powerful expedition, in which the navy was to co-operate with the army, was organized against Fort Fisher, at the mouth of Cape Fear River, in the early winter of 1864 to 1865. An attack delivered at Christmas proved a failure, and the land forces were largely withdrawn for service elsewhere.[5] This conflict is known as the First Battle of Fort Fisher (December 7–27, 1864). It was followed by the Second Battle of Fort Fisher (January 13–15, 1865).

The navy remained and in the middle of January made a second attack, assisted by some soldiers under Terry, who were reinforced by marines and sailors from the ships. This was one of the hardest fought engagements on land and sea of the civil war and it resulted in a Federal victory, in which the navy, afloat and ashore, carried off the principal honors. The Colorado, being a wooden ship, was placed in the line outside the monitors and other armored vessels but got a full share of conflict. Toward the end of the second engagement, when matters were moving the right way, Admiral Porter signaled Thatcher to close in and silence a certain part of the works. As the ship had already received considerable damage, her officers remonstrated. But Dewey, who, had now acquired marked tactical ability, was quick to see the advantage to be gained by the move and the work was taken in fifteen minutes. The New York Times, commenting upon this part of the action, spoke of it as 'the most beautiful duel of the war.' When Admiral Porter came to congratulate Commodore Thatcher the latter said generously : 'You must thank Lieutenant Dewey, sir. It was his move.' Nevertheless Thatcher was promoted to be a rear-admiral and tried to take Dewey with him as his fleet captain when he went to supersede Farragut at Mobile Bay. This was not permitted, but Dewey was promoted to lieutenant-commander.[5]

Post-Civil War life

After the end of the Civil War, then Lieutenant-Commander Dewey remained in active service, and was sent to the European station as executive officer of the Kearsarge — the famous old ship that had sunk the privateer Alabama.


After a year of this, he was assigned to duty in the navy yard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and there met the woman who became his wife.[5] His wife was Susan "Susie" Boardman Goodwin (1844–1872), daughter of New Hampshire's war governor, Ichabod Goodwin,[6] a Republican who fitted out troops for the war at his own expense. The Deweys were married on 24 October 1867 and had a single son, George Goodwin Dewey (December 23, 1872 - February 10, 1963). Susie died on December 28, 1872, five days after giving birth.[3][7][8]

Peacetime assignments

Dewey's next tour of duty was in 1867 and 1868 as executive officer of the USS Colorado  — the same vessel in which he had won his honors at Fort Fisher, and now the flagship of the European Squadron. The admiral in command of the ship and squadron was Goldsborough, and one of Dewey's companions was John Crittenden Watson — the same man, who, as rear-admiral, relieved Admiral Dewey of his duties at Manila, when he wished to return to the United States in the summer of 1899.[5] Lieutenant Commander Dewey was in charge of the vessels at the Naval Academy in Annapolis from 6 November 1867 through 1 August 1870. This duty included commanding the famous frigate USS Constitution which was berthed at Annapolis as a training ship.

Some tranquil years followed the end of Dewey's cruise on the Colorado. For two years, from 1868 to 1870, he was an instructor at the Naval Academy. The next year he did special surveying work in the steam sloop USS Narragansett. He was then briefly assigned to the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island. It was during this assignment that his wife died five days after the birth of his son George Goodwin Dewey.He died later in 1917. In 1873 Dewey was given command of the Narragansett and spent nearly four years on her, engaged in the Pacific Coast Survey.[5]

Lighthouse Board

This entitled him to a period of rest ashore; and he was ordered to Washington, and made lighthouse inspector in 1880, and subsequently secretary of the lighthouse board, a service in which he took great interest. Meanwhile he had been promoted to the grade of commander. This residence in Washington as a bureau officer of high rank gave him an extensive acquaintance, and he became one of the most popular men in the capital. He was a member of the Metropolitan Club, the leading social club of Washington.[5]

Assignment to the USS Dolphin

In 1882, this leave of absence in Washington came to an end by his being sent to the Asiatic station in command of the Juniata, where he studied the situation with care and acquired information of immense importance ten years later.[5]

The rank of captain was reached in 1884, and he was ordered home and given command of the USS Dolphin — one of the first four ships of the original white squadron, which consisted of steam powered ships with steel hulls which formed the basis of the modern United States Navy. The Dolphin was officially classed as a dispatch boat, and was often used as the president's yacht.[5]

In 1885, Captain Dewey undertook another tour of sea service, and for three years was in command of the Pensacola, familiar to him in the New Orleans battles, now flagship of the European squadron." [5]

Asiatic Squadron

Admiral George Dewey during the Spanish-American war

Returning to Washington in 1893 he resumed the life of a bureau officer, being attached to the lighthouse board, and remained there until 1896. when he was commissioned commodore, and transferred to the board of inspection and survey.[5]

Dewey felt, in 1897, that his health was suffering in the climate and inaction of Washington, and applied for sea duty. It was granted to him, and he was assigned to the command of the Asiatic station. He felt certain, as did so many others at Washington that year, that war with Spain was imminent although few had thought of the Philippines as a field of serious war.[5]

The Commodore hoisted his pennant at Hong Kong in December, 1897, and immediately began preparations for wartime service. As early as January 1898 the Navy Department began to send him instructions, as it was doing to other commanders under the administration of Secretary of Navy John D. Long and Assistant Secretary of Navy Theodore Roosevelt. Dewey was ordered in January to retain all enlisted men whose terms had expired; and a month later was told to keep the Olympia, instead of sending her back to San Francisco. He was instructed to assemble all his squadron at Hong Kong, and to fill all the bunkers with coal. At the same time the cruiser Baltimore was dispatched to him from the United States, via Hawaii; and at Honolulu was met by the steamer Mohican from San Francisco, which transferred to her a shipload of ammunition, sent far in advance of its possible use.[5]

Dewey's ships were scattered up and down the Asiatic coast; but by the end of March the whole squadron, except the antiquated wooden Monocacy, had been gathered in the port of Hong Kong, their coal and stores replenished. Then came a period of waiting, the commodore was constantly making ready. First he sent the fleet paymaster over to the consignees of the English steamship Nanshan, and bought her as she was, with 3,300 tons of coal on board. Then he bought the Zafiro, a steamship of the Manila-Hong Kong line, just as she was, with all her fuel and provisions, and on her was placed all the spare ammunition, so that she became the magazine of the fleet.[5]

On April 18, the McCulloch came in and joined the squadron. She was a revenue cutter but she was as good as a gunboat, being built of steel, having 1,500 tons displacement, and carrying four 4-inch guns and a crew of one hundred and thirty men. On the 21st, when General Woodford was leaving Madrid, and Señor Luís Polo de Bernabé was slipping out of Washington, the Baltimore appeared, a powerful addition to the fleet, and bringing also her load of ammunition, so that she was doubly welcome.[5]

As the news now daily published in Hong Kong made war seem certain, all the white vessels were repainted war-gray, and the last possible preparations made when the cable brought word of the declaration of war, to date from April 22 and also of England's declaration of neutrality. Word was therefore sent to the American commander by the Governor of Hong Kong that his vessels could no longer be harbored there. That was no hardship, for they were as completely outfitted as they cared to be, and only a few miles away were the Chinese waters of Mirs Bay, where nobody would or could interfere with their anchorage. Thither Dewey took his ships on April 25, leaving the McCulloch to bring last dispatches; and the next day she joined the fleet in a hurry, taking to the commander the following fateful message from the Government of the United States:[5]

'Dewey, Asiatic Squadron: "War has commenced between the United States and Spain. Proceed at once to Philippine Islands. Commence operations at once, particularly against the Spanish fleet. You must capture vessels or destroy. Use utmost endeavors. Long." [5]

This was on the 26th. At 2:00 p.m. the next day, April 27, Dewey's squadron was leaving Mirs Bay for the Philippine Islands, in search of another squadron of warships as large and as new and as well-armed as itself, to seek the first naval encounter of modern ships and with modern ordnance.[5] In reality, the Spanish fleet in the Philippines was equipped with a variety of obsolete vessels.

Spanish-American War

Detail of a painting in the Vermont State House depicting Dewey on the USS Olympia during the Battle of Manila Bay

Battle of Manila Bay

On April 27, 1898, he sailed out from China aboard the USS Olympia with orders to attack the Spanish at Manila Bay. He stopped at the mouth of the bay late the night of April 30, and the following morning he gave the order to attack at first light, by saying the now famous words "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley." Within 6 hours, on May 1, he had sunk or captured the entire Spanish Pacific fleet under Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasarón and silenced the shore batteries at Manila, with the loss of only one life on the American side.

Dewey aided General Wesley Merritt in taking formal possession of Manila on August 13, 1898. In the early stages of the war the Americans were greatly aided by the Filipino nationalists led by Emilio Aguinaldo who had been attacking the Spanish by land as Dewey was attacking them by sea. Dewey and Aguinaldo at first enjoyed a cordial relationship, and Dewey wrote that the Filipinos were “intelligent” and well "capable of self-government"; the McKinley administration decided otherwise, and by the start of 1899, Dewey had to threaten to shell Aguinaldo's forces to allow for a U.S. invasion of Manila.


Dewey on the cover of an 1899 souvenir calendar

Returning to the United States in 1899, he received a hero's welcome. New York City's September 1899 welcome home celebration for Dewey was a two-day parade. When Boston paid tribute, he was greeted at City Hall by 280 singers from the Handel and Haydn Society who sang the anthem "See the Conquering Hero Comes" from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus.[9] By act of Congress he was promoted to the special rank of Admiral of the Navy in 1903 with his date of rank retroactive to 1899. A special military decoration, the Battle of Manila Bay Medal (commonly called the Dewey Medal), was struck in honor of Dewey's victory at Manila Bay. It was awarded to every American officer, Sailor and Marine present at the battle. The medals were designed by Daniel Chester French, sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, and produced by Tiffany & Co. Each medal was engraved with the recipient's name, rank and ship. Since his own image appeared on the obverse of the medal, out of modesty, Dewey wore his medal reversed. Dewey was one of only four Americans in history (the other three being Admiral William T. Sampson, Admiral Richard E. Byrd and General John J. Pershing) who were entitled to wear a US Government issued medal with their own image on it.

Shortly after the Battle of Manila Bay, on May 31, 1898, Dewey wrote to the Secretary of the Navy asking that 50 Chinese sailors who had served with the Asiatic Squadron at Manila Bay be allowed to enter the United States. In Dewey's letter he noted that the Chinese had "rendered the most efficient services upon that occaision" and that they had "shown courage and energy in the face of an enemy". At that time, an immigration law, called the "Chinese Exclusion Act" prohibited Chinese laborers from landing in the United States.[10]

On October 3, 1899 Dewey was presented a special sword by President McKinley in a ceremony at the Capitol building. The presentation of the sword was followed by a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Congress, by unanimous vote, had authorized $10,000 to fund the gift shortly after the Battle of Manila Bay. The elaborately decorated sword was custom-made by Tiffany & Co. of New York. Its hilt and fittings were made of 22 carat gold. The sword is now on display, along with uniforms and medals belonging to Admiral Dewey, at the National Museum of the United States Navy at the Washington Navy Yard.[11] On November 9, 1899, Dewey was married for the second time to Mrs. Mildred M. Hazen in the rectory of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. Since Mrs. Hazen was a Roman Catholic, and Dewey was not, they were not permitted to have their wedding inside a Catholic church.[12][13]

Many suggested Dewey run for President on the Democratic ticket in 1900. His candidacy was plagued by public relations missteps. He was quoted as saying the job of president would be easy since the chief executive was merely following orders in executing the laws enacted by Congress and that he would "execute the laws of Congress as faithfully as I have always executed the orders of my superiors." He admitted to never having voted in a presidential election. He drew yet more criticism when he offhandedly, but propheticly, told a newspaper reporter that "Our next war will be with Germany."[14] Dewey also angered some Protestants by marrying a Catholic and giving her the house that the nation had given him following the war.[15] Dewey withdrew from the race in mid-May 1900 and endorsed William McKinley.

In 1900, after his withdrawal from the presidential race, he was named president of the newly established General Board of the Navy Department, which was the Navy's major policy‑making body. He served in the board until his death.

In 1901 he was elected as an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati. He was also a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America, the Sons of the Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution (membership number 2920), Naval Order of the United States, the Society of Colonial Wars, the General Society of the War of 1812, the Society of American Wars and the Military Order of Foreign Wars. He served as Commander of the New York Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States from 1898 to 1900. In later life he wore stylish clothes and a handlebar mustache. His inherited wealth allowed him to live in style. He often went horseback riding with President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington's Rock Creek Park and he was a fellow member of Washington's prestigious Metropolitan Club.

Dewey was a member of the board of the Boy Scouts of America until his resignation in late 1910.

Admiral Dewey died in Washington on January 16, 1917. His remains were interred in the Bethlehem Chapel, on the crypt level, at the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.

Dates of Rank

  • Midshipman - June 11, 1854
  • Passed Midshipman — January 19, 1861
  • Master — February 28, 1861 [16]

In the era of the Civil War, it was a common practice for officers to be granted shipboard commissions based on the need to fill certain jobs or billets. Dewey was therefore made a Lieutenant once he "signed on" with David Farragut. He never held the ranks of Ensign or Lieutenant (junior grade) as those ranks were not created until 1862 and 1883, respectively.[17][18]

Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Commander Captain
O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6
USN lt rank insignia.jpg USN lt com rank insignia.jpg USN com rank insignia.jpg USN cpt rank insignia.jpg
April 19, 1861 March 3, 1865 April 13, 1872 September 27, 1884
Commodore Rear Admiral Admiral Admiral of the Navy
O-7 O-8 O-10 Special Rank
USN commodore rank insignia.jpg USN Rear Admiral rank insignia.jpg USN Admiral rank insignia.jpg US Admiral of Navy shoulderboard.svg
February 28, 1896 May 10, 1898 March 2, 1899 March 24, 1903 Retroactive to March 2, 1899

Dewey in special full dress uniform as Admiral of the Navy.

Admiral Dewey's final rank was Admiral of the Navy. He is the only person ever to hold this rank. Admiral of the Navy is equivalent to General of the Armies. General John J. Pershing was promoted to General of the Armies in 1919 and General George Washington was posthumously promoted to the rank of General of the Armies of the United States in 1976.


Medals Awarded by the United States Government

(Dates indicate the year the medal was awarded.)

Civil War Campaign Medal (1908)

Battle of Manila Bay Medal (aka. "Dewey Medal") (1899)

Spanish Campaign Medal (1908)

Philippine Campaign Medal (1908)

Note - Although Dewey was entitled to all of the above medals the only one there are pictures of him wearing is the Battle of Manila Bay Medal.

Other Honors

Dewey Point, Yosemite National Park, California, appeared on the first edition of the Yosemite Valley map in 1907

In 1898, the Borough of Hellertown, Pennsylvania, formed its fire department naming it Dewey Fire Company No. 1 in honor of George Dewey.

Also in 1898, the city of Boston, Massachusetts named the square besides the nearly complete South Central Station as Dewey Square in his honor.[19]

Three ships of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Dewey, including an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Dewey (DDG-105) that was laid down on 4 October 2006, christened on 26 January 2008 and commissioned on 6 March 2010.

Thomasville, Georgia, contains the Dewey City "subdivision," an area settled in the late 1880s by former slaves.

The column in the center of San Francisco's Union Square is dedicated to Dewey's victory at Manila Bay.

Dewey Beach, Delaware, is named in honor of Admiral Dewey.

Dewey Street, in St. Paul, Minnesota, was renamed in his honor.

Dewey Ave. in Norman, Oklahoma, was named in his honor.

Dewey County, Oklahoma was named in his honor.

In 1899, Mills Novelty released a slot machine named The Dewey, in honor of Admiral Dewey.

The main town of Culebra, Puerto Rico, was named in his honor, however it is known by many locals simply as Pueblo.

The Dewey School in the Castle Rock Business Corridor in Castle Rock, Colorado was named after Admiral Dewey. The Admiral wrote a warm letter of thanks to the school children that was framed and on the wall of the school for many years until the school closed.

Dewey Avenue in Wharton, New Jersey, is named in honor of Admiral Dewey.

Dewey Blvd, now known as Roxas Blvd, a major seaside thoroughfare in Manila, Philippines, was named after him; George Dewey High School at the former U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay in the Philippines was named after him.

A settlement in Newton County, Texas, was established as a sawmill site by the Sabine Tram Company in 1898. It was named Deweyville after George Dewey.

Dewey Lake, a lake in St. Louis County, Minnesota, is named after Admiral Dewey.

Admiral Dewey (tugboat) was named for him.

Dewey Road at the former San Diego Naval Training Center in the heart of the new Civic, Arts and Cultural District is named for him.

Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona, is named in honor of Admiral Dewey.

In San Diego, CA, George Dewey Elementary School, which is located near the former Naval Training Center and over the years served a student body which was largely made up of children of Navy and Marine personnel, was named after him.

See also


  • Dates of promotion from The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Sixth Edition, 1889, by Lewis Randolph Hamersly.[20]
  • The Dewey slot machine at[21]
  • Yosemite Place Names - The historic background of geographic names in Yosemite National Park by Peter Browning


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Brian Miller, "The Life of Admiral George Dewey (1837-1917)
  2. "Admiral Dewey at Manila and the Complete Story of the Philippines: Life and Glorious Deeds of Admiral George Dewey, Including a Thrilling Account of Our Conflicts with the Spaniards and Filipinos in the Orient.". Philadelphia: J.H. Moore. 1899. p. 123. OCLC 6437000.,M1. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Upstate New York Genealogy And History:"Dewey, Josiah, Descendants[dead link]
  4. Mike Lipsey, a genealogical entry for Julius Yemans Dewey and Mary Perrin
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 5.27 5.28 5.29 5.30 5.31 5.32 5.33 William J. Lawrence, "A concise life of Admiral George Dewey" (1899)
  6. Strawbery Banke:"The Goodwin Mansion "
  7. Gary Richardson,:"George Goodwin Dewey"
  8. NNDB Mapper:"George Dewey"
  9. Louis Stanley Young, Life and Heroic Deeds of Admiral Dewey (Boston: James H. Earle, 1899), 546
  10. New York Times. February 23, 1899.
  11. "Dewey Receives the Nation's Gift". 3 October 1899. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  12. "Admiral Dewey Married". 10 November1899. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  13. Hazen was the widow of General William Babcock Hazen and the daughter of Washington McLean, the owner of The Washington Post.
  14. Convention Diary at
  15. HarpWeek | Elections | 1900 Medium Cartoons at
  16. Biographies in Naval History at the Naval History & Heritage Command (
  17. Navy Traditions and Customs: Ensign at the Naval History & Heritage Command (
  18. Navy Traditions and Customs: Lieutenant at the Naval History & Heritage Command (
  19. Dewey, Adelbert Milton (1899). The life and letters of Admiral Dewey. New York: Eaton & Mains. p. 411. 

Further reading

  • Brody, David. "Celebrating Empire on the Home Front: New York City's Welcome-home Party for Admiral Dewey." Prospects 2000 25: 391-424. Issn: 0361-2333
  • Chadwick, French Ensor. The Relations of the United States and Spain: The Spanish-American War (1911) online edition
  • Graves, Ralph. "When a Victory Really Gave Us a New World Order." Smithsonian 1992 22(12): 88-97. Issn: 0037-7333 Fulltext: Ebsco
  • Spector, Ronald. Admiral of the New Empire: The Life and Career of George Dewey. 1974. 220 pp. the standard scholarly biography
  • [[Alfred Thayer Mahan
    Little, Brown Low, Boston |Mahan, Alfred Thayer,]] (1899). Lessons of the war with Spain: and other articles. pp. 320.

Primary sources

  • Dewey, George. Autobiography of George Dewey, Admiral of the Navy (1913) full text online written in collaboration with journalist Frederick Palmer as ghostwriter using the reports of Dewey's aide, Nathan Sargent,

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Frederick V. McNair, Sr.
Commander, Asiatic Squadron
3 January 1898–5 June 1899
Succeeded by
John C. Watson
Preceded by
Newly created
Member of the Schurman Commission
March 4, 1899–March 16, 1900
Succeeded by
Luke Edward Wright
(Taft Commission)
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Pierre Charles L'Enfant
Persons who have lain in state or honor
in the United States Capitol rotunda

January 20, 1917
Succeeded by
Unknown Soldier
of World War I

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