John Franklin McGlensey graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1861, and three months later the 19-year-old was in command of a navy vessel in the Potomac River. His story is the subject of my latest “Faces of War” column, which runs in the Civil War News. An excerpt:
The rebels raised their flag and replied with a barrage from their big guns. They kept up a rapid fire into the afternoon. At some point during the action, the federals observed a small launch anchored in front of the battery. Midshipman McGlensey ordered the Murray in and captured the craft. The bold move drew fire from the Freestone battery, but the crew of the Murray managed to secure the launch and tow it away. “She accomplished it without any injury to herself or those on board,” noted Lt. McCrea.
Lt. John F. McGlensey, a Pennsylvania-born, 1860 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, started the Civil War on duty at the Washington Navy Yard. Later in 1861, he joined the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In this capacity he participated in the capture of Port Royal, S.C., on November 7, 1861. The engagement was one of the earliest Union amphibious operations. He survived the war and remained in the navy until his retirement in 1893. He died in Washington, D.C., three years later.