James Wilson King
|James Wilson King|
James Wilson King, by Mathew Brady
|Died||6 June 1905|
|Years of service||1844-1881|
Captain James Wilson King (1818–1905) was Chief Engineer of the US Navy. During his career he held every position in the US Navy to which an engineer officer could be called. He is chiefly remembered today for his 1880 book The Warships and Navies of the World; "this was an important book to establish reliable contemporary information" and was republished by the US Naval Institute in 1982.
During the Mexican–American War King was attached to the paddle-frigate Mississippi, and participated in the capture of all but one the towns on the Mexican coast taken by the navy. During this time, King was promoted to second assistant engineer on 10 July 1847. During his early career King served on all the first steamers belonging to the US Navy excepting the first Fulton.
King was promoted to first assistant engineer on 13 September 1849, and to chief engineer on 12 November 1852. King was appointed government inspector of ocean mail steamers at New York in 1853. Then in 1858 he was appointed Chief Engineer at the New York navy-yard.
The American Civil War
King was Chief Engineer of the North Atlantic Fleet in the early part of the American Civil War. "Subsequently he was the superintendent of the construction of all the armour-clads built west of the Alleghanies, involving an expenditure in the aggregate of seven millions of dollars".
Post war career
King was promoted engineer in chief on 15 March 1869. In 1869 President Grant appointed King chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering. In this post, King introduced double-expansion engines into the US Navy. King held this post until 20 March 1873.
During the mid-1870s King, as "Chief Engineer of the US Navy, made many visits, official and private, to Europe to collect information relating to ship building, machinery and other aspects of naval warfare." In 1877, he produced a report to congress entitled European ships of war and their armament, naval administration and economy, marine constructions and appliances, dockyards, etc., etc. "King's critical evaluations of naval architecture assumed that Congress might soon fund new designs for a re-equipped American navy. A second edition was published in 1878. King then produced an expanded version of these reports as his 1880 book The Warships and Navies of the World.
King was placed on the retired list on 26 August 1881.
King died at his home at 3221 Powelton Avenue, Philadelphia on 6 June 1905.
- New York Times, Death list of a day; Capt James W King, 7 June 1905.
- www.globalsecurity.org The New Navy.
- Selected Reference Books: Naval Ships in the Los Angeles Maritime Museum Research Library Collections
- www.archive.org Report of Chief Engineer J. W. King, United States navy, on European ships of war and their armament, naval administration and economy, marine constructions and appliances, dockyards, etc., etc (1877)
- Naval Historical Center, Officers of the Continental and US Navy and Marine Corps 1775-1900 Archived 2013-09-02 at the Wayback Machine.
- King, JW, The Warships and Navies of the World, page v.
- Navy Department Library Bureau of Steam Engineering
- Naval Historical Center, Officers of the Continental and US Navy and Marine Corps 1775-1900 US Navy Officers: 1798-1900 - "W" (William W. Wood) Archived 2010-12-05 at the Wayback Machine.
- Browsing Library of Congress Call Numbers : "VA20 .J6" to "VA50 .K8"
- King, JW, The Warships and Navies of the World, page iv.
- U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 111-B-1979, photograph of Chief Engineer James W. King, U.S.N. by Mathew Brady
Benjamin F. Isherwood
|Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering
William W. Wood