George H. Perkins
Born in Contoocookville, New Hampshire in the northern part of Hopkinton to the Honorable Hamilton Eliot Perkins, George was appointed as Acting Midshipman in October 1851 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with the class of 1856. During the rest of that decade Midshipman Perkins served on at sea on the sloop of war Cyane, the storeship Release and the steamer Sumpter. He attained the ranks of Master in 1859 and Lieutenant in February 1861, on the eve of the Civil War. Perkins spent the conflict's first several months in the Sumpter, operating on anti-slavery patrols. In late 1861 he became Commanding Officer of the new gunboat Cayuga, in which he performed distinguished service during the 1862 campaigns to capture New Orleans and the lower Mississippi River.
He was next Executive Officer of the steam sloop Pensacola, receiving promotion to Lieutenant Commander at the end of 1862. His service on the Mississippi and in the Gulf of Mexico continued in 1863-1865, including command of gunboats New London and Sciota, and the monitor Chickasaw. While in the latter ship, his aggressive and effective conduct during the August 1864 Battle of Mobile Bay was a major factor in the capture of the Confederate ironclad Tennessee.
In the years immediately following the Civil War Lieutenant Commander Perkins was Superintendent of Iron-Clads at New Orleans, Executive Officer of the steam sloop Lackawanna in the North Pacific, and had ordnance duty at the Boston Navy Yard. Reaching the rank of Commander in early 1871, he spent the next decade as Commanding Officer of the storeship Relief and gunboat Ashuelot and had further shore duty at Boston.
Perkins was promoted to Captain in 1882 and commanded the Pacific Station flagship USS Hartford during the mid-1880s. Captain Perkins' subsequent active service was limited to court-martial duty. He was transferred to the Retired List in October 1891, but in 1896 received a Congressionally authorized promotion to the retired rank of Commodore in recognition of his gallantry and skill during the Battle of Mobile Bay three decades earlier. Commodore Perkins died at Boston on 28 October 1899.
Their daughter, Isabel Weld Perkins, married Larz Anderson, a wealthy businessman who served as Ambassador to Japan under William Howard Taft. Among the homes they maintained was Perkins Manor, the commodore's birthplace.
Ships named after Perkins
The U.S. Navy has named three destroyers in honor of George H. Perkins, including:
- USS Perkins Destroyer # 26, later DD-26 of 1910-1935
- USS Perkins (DD-377) of 1936-1943
- USS Perkins (DD-877, later DDR-877 and DD-877) of 1945-1973.
- Perkins Manor, Contoocook Village Quilt
- Project Gutenberg EBook of The Bay State Monthly - Volume 1, Issue 4, April, 1884
- Cornell University Library photos of The Bay State Monthly - Volume 1, Issue 4, April, 1884
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Naval History & Heritage Command.