George Musalas Colvocoresses
From 1898's Norwich University: Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor
October 22, 1816|
Chios, Ottoman Empire
June 3, 1872 (aged 55)|
|Service/||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1832–1872|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
George Musalas "Colvos" Colvocoresses (October 22, 1816 – June 3, 1872) was a United States Navy officer who commanded the Saratoga during the American Civil War. From 1838 up until 1842, he served in the United States Exploring Expedition, better known as the Wilkes Expedition, which explored large regions of the Pacific Ocean. Three separate geographical features, two on the west coast of the United States and another in Antarctica, were named for Colvocoresses.
Early life and education
He was born on the island of Chios in the Greek Archipelago on October 22, 1816. As a member of a prominent Greek family, he was kidnapped along with his mother and two sisters and ransomed from the Turks after the massacre of the Greek population of the island in 1822, during the Greek War of Independence. His family's fortunes were devastated by the massacre. Most close relatives, including six brothers, were killed. He was enslaved at 6 years of age, but his father managed to buy back his freedom.
By 1824, Colvocoresses was sent to Baltimore, Maryland in the United States by his father. He became the adopted son of Captain Alden Partridge, the founder of the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy (later Norwich University) in Norwich, Vermont. Colvocoresses entered the Navy after graduating from the Academy in 1831. Several generations of his family, including his son, great-grandson, and great-great-granddaughter, have also graduated from Norwich and followed military careers.
In 1832, he was appointed a midshipman, and in 1836-1837 attached to the frigate United States on the Mediterranean Squadron. From 1838 up until 1842, he served in the United States Exploring Expedition, better known as the Wilkes Expedition of the Pacific Ocean. Colvocoresses later authored a work on the Wilkes Expedition, entitled Four Years in a Government Exploring Expedition (New York, 1852). He was promoted to lieutenant on December 7, 1843 and to commander on July 2, 1861.
On January 29, 1862, the vessel Supply, under his command, captured the Confederate schooner Stephen Hart off the south coast of Florida, carrying assorted cargo. In early August 1864 with 115 men in 7 boats from his sloop Saratoga, he conducted an expedition to gather intelligence and capture enemy prisoners. Two week later, at South Newport, Georgia, Colvocoresses led 130 men in boats, capturing a lieutenant and 38 privates of the Third South Carolina Cavalry, six overseers of saltworks he had destroyed, and 71 slaves.
He was promoted to captain and placed on the retired list on April 4, 1867.
Colvocoresses was married twice. From his first union, with Adeline Maria Swasey, he had four children, including Frank E. and George P. His second marriage was with Eliza T. Halsey.
- His son, Adm. George Partridge Colvocoresses, (NU Class 1866), named for his father's benefactor, also led a distinguished military career, rising to the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy. He served under then-Commodore George Dewey (NU 1855) in the Asiatic Fleet, and distinguished himself in service during the Spanish–American War. His name appears on the Centennial Staircase at Norwich.
- Col. Alden Partridge Colvocoresses, USA (Ret.), (1918-2007) and great-grandson of George M. Colvocoresses, received the Purple Heart as well as two Silver Stars, the second awarded under the command of Major General Ernest N. Harmon. His career spanned World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. After leaving the army, Alden was a pioneer in satellite mapping techniques, including the Space Oblique Mercator projection that maps images from Landsat satellites, which he used to develop the first satellite map of the United States.
- Colvocoresses' great-great-granddaughter, Gretchen Herrboldt Hahn, graduated from Norwich University in 2005. Gretchen received her commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army on May 8, her great-great Uncle, Col. Alden Partridge Colvocoresses, USA (Ret.) gave her the commissioning oath. Alden is the great-grandson of George M. Colvocoresses and a key link in a military family whose roots are entwined deep in the Norwich tradition.
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