William F. Lynch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other persons with a similar name, see William Lynch.
William Francis Lynch
William Francis Lynch wmm.jpg
Born (1801-04-01)1 April 1801
Norfolk, Virginia
Died 17 October 1865(1865-10-17) (aged 64)
Baltimore, Maryland
Allegiance  United States of America
 Confederate States of America
Service/branch  United States Navy
 Confederate States Navy
Years of service 1819-1861 (USN)
1861-1865 (CSN)
Rank [[File:|Union Navy captain rank insignia.png|25px]] Captain (USN)
Csn strap capt.png Captain (CSN)
Battles/wars American Civil War
Battle of Aquia Creek
Battle of Roanoke Island
Battle of Fort Fisher

Captain William Francis Lynch (1 April 1801 – 17 October 1865), was an officer in the United States and Confederate States navies.

Personal life[edit]

William F. Lynch was born in Virginia.[1] On 2 June 1828, one month after his promotion to lieutenant, Lynch was married in New Haven, Connecticut, to Virginia Shaw, the youngest daughter of a senior navy officer and sister-in-law of another. They had two children.

Early Navy service[edit]

He was appointed a midshipman 26 January 1819, and first saw service in USS Congress and next in U.S. schooner Shark under Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry. Subsequent service included duty with Commodore David Porter’s “Mosquito Squadron” in the West Indies and in the Mediterranean.

Middle East Operations[edit]

Lynch had his first command, the Poinsett, from 3 March to 30 December 1839. The ship sailed on behalf of the United States Naval Hydrographic Office.[1] In 1847, he proceeded to the Jordan River, transporting overland, by camels, a copper and a galvanized iron boat.[2] A total of 16 men were a part of the trip, including John Y. Mason.[1] Each boat was "assembled" and then placed on a carriage. His expedition ended with the exploration of the River Jordan and the Dead Sea.[1]

Using the triangulation method, Lynch's expedition was the first to determine that the Dead Sea was below sea level, something that the scientific community had inferred but not previously determined conclusively, though several other expeditions by Europeans had attempted to do so. The American expedition's measurement showed the Dead Sea to be 1312.7 ft. (400 metres) below sea level. [2]

He published in 1847 (and again in 1849 an enhanced version of) his travels, Narrative of the United States' Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea.

In 1849 he was commissioned commander and in 1850 was promoted to captain. In 1852, he requested permission to explore the interior of Africa for purposes of possible colonization. In his exploration in west central Africa, he caught a fever, and was forced to return to the United States.[2] Lynch believed that explorers who "remove the obstruction to Commerce, Civilization and Christianity will become the benefactors of mankind."[1]

American Civil War[edit]

On 21 April 1861, he resigned from the United States Navy. He was initially appointed captain in the Virginia Navy and on 10 June 1861, captain in the Confederate States Navy. He commanded naval batteries at Aquia Creek, Virginia, during their shelling by Union gunboats in May 1861, was in charge of the defense of Roanoke Island, North Carolina in February 1862, and led Confederate naval forces at Vicksburg, Mississippi from March to October 1862.

Later in command of ships in North Carolina waters, he commanded southern naval forces during the Union attack on Fort Fisher, in December 1864 and January 1865.

Post-war retirement[edit]

After the defeat of the Confederacy, he was paroled 3 May 1865 in Richmond, Virginia. He died in Baltimore, Maryland, on 17 October of the same year.[2]


The USS Lynch (T-AGOR-7) was named in Lynch’s honor.

See also[edit]


2. Bain, David Haward (2011). Bitter Waters. New York, NY: The Overlook Press. p. 384. ISBN 978-1-59020-352-1. An account of Lynch's expedition to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.

  1. ^ a b c d e "Map of the River Jordan and Dead Sea: And the Route of the Party Under the Command of Lieutenant W.F. Lynch, United States Navy". World Digital Library. 1849–1852. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  2. ^ Clark, Carol Lea. "Clash of Eagles: America's Forgotten Mission to Ottoman Palestine. Lyon's Press, 2012. Page 228. ISBN 978-0762778423


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

Bain, David Haward (2011). Bitter Waters. New York, NY: The Overlook Press. p. 384. ISBN 978-1-59020-352-1.  An account of Lynch's expedition to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.

Clark, Carol Lea. Clash of Eagles: America's Forgotten Expedition to Ottoman Palestine, 2012. Lyons Press (Guilford, Conn.) ISBN 978-0762778423. Lt. William Francis Lynch commanded America's first military foray into the Middle East for the purpose of exploring the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.