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Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, USN, (1812-1897)

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Samuel Phillips Lee was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, on 13 February 1812. He was appointed a Midshipman in the U.S. Navy in November 1825 and subsequently saw extensive service at sea, including combat action during the Mexican War and exploration, surveying and oceanographic duty. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, he was captain of the sloop of war Vandalia in the East Indies, sailing her home on his own initiative to join the blockade of the Southern coast. Commander Lee commanded the new steam sloop USS Oneida during the New Orleans campaign and subsequent operations on the Mississippi River in the first half of 1862.

In September 1862, S.P. Lee was placed in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron with the rank of Acting Rear Admiral. He led this force for over two years, during which it was responsible for the blockade of the North Carolina coast and operations on North Carolina and Virginia inland waters, all areas of very active combat between Union and Confederate forces. Acting Rear Admiral Lee transferred to the command of the Mississippi Squadron in October 1864 and led it to the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Reverting to his permanent rank of Captain after the Civil War, Lee had extensive service in the Washington, D.C., area. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1870 and retired from active service in February 1873. Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee died at Silver Spring, Maryland, on 7 June 1897.

Two U.S. Navy ships have been named in honor of Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, including: USS S.P. Lee (DD-310), which was commissioned in October 1920 and lost by stranding in September 1923, and USNS S.P. Lee (T-AGS-31, later T-AG-192), which was in naval service between 1968 and 1974.

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This Day in History
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1863: The Confederate ship CSS David seriously damages USS New Ironsides with a spar torpedo off Charleston, South Carolina.

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