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TRUXTUN, Thomas, naval officer, born on Long Island, New York, 17 February, 1755; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 5 May, 1822. He began a seafaring life when he was twelve years old, as an apprentice in the English packet "Pitt," and was impressed in England to serve in the frigate "Prudent," whence he obtained his discharge through friends. He declined the offer of a midshipman's warrant, served in the merchant marine, and quickly rose to command. In 1775 he had charge of the "Andrew Caldwell," in which he brought large quantities of powder to Philadelphia. In the latter part of that year he was seized off St. Kitt's by the frigate "Argo," and his vessel was condemned under the restraining act. He made his way to Philadelphia, where he arrived in time to enter on board the " Congress" as a lieutenant. This was the first private armed ship that was fitted out by the colonies. In 1776 several prizes were taken off Havana, one of which he took to New Bedford. In 1777 he aided in fitting out the ship "Independence," of which he took command and captured three large ships among other prizes off the Azores islands One of these was much more powerfully armed than his own vessel. On his return he fitted out the ship "Mars," twenty guns, and made a cruise in the English channel, capturing many prizes, which he sent to France. He then commanded the" Commerce" and other vessels, in which he brought needed cargoes of military stores for the army to Philadelphia. He had the ship" St. James '" in 1781, and conveyed the United States consul-general to France, in this voyage disabling a British ship, of thirty-two guns and returning with a valuable cargo. He was uniformly successful in all engagements with British vessels. After the war he commanded several East Indiamen. Upon the organization of the United States navy, he was selected as one of its six captains, 4 June, 1798, and assigned to command the frigate "Constellation," which was building at Baltimore. He was ordered with a squadron under his command to protect commerce in the West Indies, where he made numerous prizes. On 9 February, 1799, off Hen's island, he fell in with the French frigate "L'Insurgente," fifty guns, which was much more powerful than his own ship. An engagement ensued of more than an hour, when the enemy surrendered, a perfect wreck, after having twenty-nine of her crew killed and forty-four wounded. Truxtun lost one killed and two wounded. The prize was refitted and added to the navy. For this brilliant victory the merchants of Lloyd's coffee-house, London, sent him a present of plate worth 600 guineas. In January, 1800, he had a severe encounter with the French frigate "La Vengeance," fifty guns, which surrendered after a long engagement" but before Truxtun could secure the prize a squall came up and she escaped. For his gallantry in this action congress gave him a gold medal and a vote of thanks. In the same year he commanded the frigate "President" and a squadron of ten vessels in the West Indies. In 1802 he was appointed to command the squadron that was fitting out for the Tripolitan war, and went to Norfolk to join the "Chesapeake." He then asked to have a captain appointed to command the flag-ship, which was declined, and Truxtun's letter was construed to mean his resignation, which was accepted contrary to his wishes. He resided in New Jersey on a farm after he left the service, and subsequently removed to Philadelphia, where he was sheriff of the county in 1819-'21. The memory of Truxtun has been handed down in the navy as one of its most distinguished officers, and the brig "Truxtun" was named after him. He was the author of a work entitled " Remarks, Instructions, and Examples relating to Latitude and Longitude " (Philadelphia, 1794). Commander Truxtun had a large family, and eight of his grandsons were in the United States naval academy at one time.--His grandson, William Talbot, naval officer, born in Philadelphia, 11 March, 1824; died in Norfolk, Virginia, 25 February, 1887, entered the navy as a midshipman, 9 February, 1841, attended the naval academy for one year, and was graduated as a passed midshipman, 10 August, 1847. He cruised in the frigate "Brandywine" in 1847-'8 on the Brazil station, whence he returned in command of the prize-slaver "Independence." He served on the Pacific station in the ship "Supply" in 1849-'52, in the brig "Dolphin "in 1853 on special service in connection with laying the trans-Atlantic cable, and in 1854 with the Strain expedition to survey a route for a ship-canal across the Isthmus of Darien. He was promoted to master, 14 September, 1855, and to lieutenant the next day by action of the retiring board. He served in the brig "Perry" during the Paraguayan war in 1859-'60, and in the sloop "Dale," of which he succeeded in command in 1861, in the North Atlantic squadron, where he con-tinned to serve throughout the civil war. He was promoted to lieutenant-commander, 16 July, 1862, and had the steamers "Alabama," "Chocura," and "Tacony" in succession. He participated in the operations in the sounds of North Carolina, in various engagements with the Confederate batteries, in the capture of Plymouth, North Carolina, and in both attacks on Fort Fisher. He was promoted to commander, 25 July, 1866, was superintendent of coal shipments for the navy in 1866-'7, commanded the sloop " Jamestown" in the Pacific squadron in 186870 on a special survey, and was ordnance of-ricer of the Boston navy-yard in 1871-'3. He was promoted to captain, 25 September, 1873, commanded the "Brooklyn," of the North Atlantic squadron, in 1873-'4, and the flag-ship of the South Atlantic station, 1874-'5. He was a member of the board of inspectors in 1876-'7, and served at the navy-yards at Boston and Norfolk in 1877-'81. He was promoted to commodore, 11 May, 1882, and was commandant of the Norfolk navy-yard in 1885-'6. He was promoted to rear-admiral by seniority, 18 February, 1886, but action on his nomination was delayed, and he was retired by law as a commodore, 11 March, 1886.
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