Who was Franklin Buchanan? (1800-1874)


Franklin Buchanan (1800-1874), American naval officer, born in Baltimore, Maryland. Buchanan organized and was the first superintendent (1845-47) of the U.S. Naval Academy, and in 1852-54 he accompanied Commodore Matthew Perry on the expedition that led to the establishment of Japanese-American commercial relations.

In April 1861, shortly after the start of the American Civil War, Buchanan entered the Confederate navy with the rank of captain. Franklin Buchanan commanded the ironclad Confederate vessel Merrimack on March 8, 1862, at Hampton Roads during the battle with the USS Congress and the USS Cumberland; Buchanan sank the two Union vessels and was severely wounded.

Soon after the battle Franklin Buchanan was promoted to the rank of admiral. He became commander of the naval units defending Mobile, Alabama, in 1863. While leading the defense of Mobile in August 1864 against the successful Union attack of Admiral David Farragut, Buchanan suffered the loss of a leg and was taken prisoner. For a period after the war he served as president of Maryland Agricultural College (now the University of Maryland).

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