Andrew E. K. Benham

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Andrew E. K. Benham
Andrew E.K. Benham cph.3b14330.jpg
Andrew E. K. Benham
Born(1832-04-10)April 10, 1832
Staten Island, New York
DiedAugust 11, 1905(1905-08-11) (aged 73)
Lake Mahopac, New York
Allegiance United States
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1847–1894
RankUSN Rear Admiral rank insignia.jpg Rear Admiral
Battles/warsParaguay expedition

American Civil War

Andrew Ellicot Kennedy Benham (April 10, 1832 – August 11, 1905) was an American admiral. In his early career, he served in China, the Pacific and Paraguay. During the American Civil War, he took part in the capture of Port Royal, South Carolina, and patrolled the Texas coast as part of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Born in Staten Island, New York near New Dorp, Benham was the son of Navy Commander Timothy Green Benham (10 August 1792 - 17 June 1860) and Juliet Lockman, he married Emma Hester Seaman (1833–1924), the daughter of Henry John Seaman (1805-1861) and Katherine Sarah (née Seaman) Seaman (1813–1896). They had three children: a daughter who died in infancy c. 1866; Henry Kennedy Benham born in 1867 and who died of appendicitis in 1904; and Edith Wallace Benham (1874–1962) who served for 25 years as the Social Secretary for the White House under Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Harry Truman and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Early service with the United States Navy[edit]

Benham was appointed a midshipman on November 24, 1847, and served in the East Indies Squadron on board the sloop-of-war Plymouth in 1847 and 1848 and on board the brig Dolphin in 1849 and 1850. In the latter warship, he participated in the capture of a pirate Chinese junk near Macau, China. During this action, he received a pike wound in the thigh. After another tour of duty in Plymouth followed by one in the frigate Saranac, Benham attended the U.S. Naval Academy in 1852 and early 1853.

Paraguay expedition[edit]

On June 10, 1853, he was promoted to passed midshipman. From mid-1853 to early 1857, he served in the sloop of war USS St. Mary's with the Pacific Squadron. On September 16, 1855, while still in St. Mary's, Benham was commissioned a lieutenant. He next served a tour of duty with the U.S. Coast Survey late in 1857 and early in 1858. Later that year, he was transferred to the steamer Western Port (renamed Wyandotte) assigned to the expedition sent to Paraguay to extract an apology for shooting at the gunboat Water Witch. In 1860, he moved to the steamer Crusader in the Home Squadron.

American Civil War[edit]

After the Civil War broke out, Lt. Benham served on board the steamer Bienville in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and, in her, took part in the capture of Port Royal, South Carolina, on November 7, 1861. On the date that rank was established, July 16, 1862, Benham was promoted to lieutenant commander. Following brief service in Sacramento, California, in 1863, he assumed command of the gunboat Penobscot and served in her through the end of the Civil War, patrolling the Texas coast as part of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron.

Post-Civil War[edit]

Upon the return of peace, he served at the New York Navy Yard from 1866 to 1870, but for a stint of duty in Susquehanna in 1867. Following duty as a lighthouse inspector in 1870 and 1871, Benham commanded first Canonicus and then Saugus, both on the North Atlantic Station and returned to lighthouse inspecting in 1874. After commanding Richmond on the Asiatic Station between 1878 and 1881, he went to the Portsmouth Navy Yard; the years 1885 and 1886 brought him his third tour of duty as lighthouse inspector. Following a tour of duty at League Island, Pennsylvania, in 1888, he became commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1889.


Three U.S. Navy ships have subsequently been named in his honor:

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
John G. Walker
Commander-in-Chief, North Atlantic Squadron
June 1893–April 1894
Succeeded by
Richard W. Meade III