Thomas ap Catesby Jones

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Thomas ap Catesby Jones
Thomas ap Catesby Jones.jpg
A young Thomas Jones
Born c. 1790
Westmoreland County, Virginia
Died 1858 (aged 67–68)
Buried at Fairfax, Virginia
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1812–1858
Rank USN commodore rank insignia.jpg Commodore
Commands held USS Peacock
Pacific Squadron

War of 1812

Capture of Monterey
Mexican-American War

Thomas ap Catesby Jones (1790–1858) was a U.S. Navy officer during the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War.

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in 1790 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. In the Welsh language, Thomas ap Catesby Jones means "Thomas, son of Catesby" Jones.

His brother was Roger Jones, who would become Adjutant General of the U.S. Army.[citation needed]

War of 1812[edit]

Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana

Thomas ap Catesby Jones began his naval career during the War of 1812, receiving honors for bravery at the Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana, delaying the British before the Battle of New Orleans.[1]

Between wars[edit]

In 1826, Commodore Jones while in command of the veteran sloop-of-war Peacock, signed a treaty with Queen regent Kaʻahumanu and other chiefs of the Kingdom of Hawai'i.[2] In 1827, Peacock was severely damaged in an attack by a whale; upon return to New York in October 1827, she was decommissioned and broken up in 1828. She was rebuilt as Peacock (1828), to serve as an exploration ship of the United States Exploring Expedition. Jones was to have commanded the expedition, but lack of funding delayed the expedition until 1838, by which time he had resigned the appointment.

From 1841 to 1844, Jones commanded the United States Pacific Squadron, and again from 1848 to 1850. In 1842, mistakenly thinking that war with Mexico had begun, he seized the California port of Monterey; he held it for one day before returning control to Mexico.[3] Hearing that British Captain Lord George Paulet had seized the Kingdom of Hawaii, he sailed there and arrived July 22, 1843. The king was restored July 31, and Jones tried to hasten peace by hosting all parties to dinner aboard his ship.[4]

In 1843, Jones returned a young deserter, Herman Melville, to the United States from the Sandwich Islands, as the Hawaiian Islands were then known. Later, Melville modeled "Commodore J—" in Moby-Dick, and the commodore in White-Jacket after Jones.[5] In 1827 Peacock under Jones's command had been severely damaged in an attack by a whale, which Melville took to have been a sperm whale. Moby-Dick may have partially inspired the story told of Jones in Chapter 45 "The Affidavit".[1]

By early 1844 Alexander Dallas had replaced Jones as Pacific commander.[4]

Mexican War[edit]

In 1848, Jones arrived in Mazatlán just at the end of the Mexican–American War, maintaining order until he could transport those who had aided the United States in that war to Monterey.[6]

Later career[edit]

For the next two years, during the chaotic Gold Rush days, Jones provided a U.S. Navy presence in the San Francisco area while the United States debated what to do with the newly acquired California Territory.[citation needed]

In 1850, in a politically charged court-martial shortly after White-Jacket was published, Jones was found guilty on three counts mostly related to "oppression" of junior officers and relieved of command for two-and-a-half years. In 1853, President Millard Fillmore reinstated him and in 1858, the United States Congress restored his pay.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Gene A. Smith (2000). Thomas ap Catesby Jones, Commodore of Manifest Destiny. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-848-8. 
  2. ^ Stauffer, pp 41–42
  3. ^ Stauffer, p 42
  4. ^ a b Frank W. Gapp (1985). "'The Kind-Eyed Chief': Forgotten Champion of Hawaii's Freedom". Hawaiian Journal of History 19 (Hawaii Historical Society). pp. 101–121. hdl:10524/235. 
  5. ^ Stauffer, pp 42–43
  6. ^ Bauer, p 232
References used
  • Bauer, K. Jack (1969). Surfboats and Horse Marines: U.S. Naval Operations in the Mexican War, 1846–48. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. 
  • Robert H. Stauffer, Robert H. (2009). "The Hawai'i-United States Treaty of 1826" (pdf). eVols. University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved 5 December 2015. 

External links[edit]