Yates Stirling

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Rear Admiral
Yates Stirling, Sr.
Yates Stirling, Sr.jpg
RADM Yates Stirling, Sr.
Born(1843-05-06)May 6, 1843
Baltimore, Maryland
DiedMarch 5, 1929(1929-03-05) (aged 85)
Baltimore, Maryland
BuriedArlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Allegiance United States
Service/branchSeal of the United States Department of the Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service1863–1905
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Rear admiral
Commands held
RelationsYates Stirling, Jr. (son)

Yates Stirling (6 May 1843 – 5 March 1929) was a rear admiral in the United States Navy.

Birth and personal life[edit]

Stirling was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 6 May 1843, the son of Archibald Stirling and the former Elizabeth A. Walsh.[1] He and his wife, Ellen (1843–1929), had seven children. Their elder son, Yates Stirling, Jr. (1872–1948), also became a rear admiral in the Navy, making them only the second family in the history of the U.S. Navy to have father and son rear admirals concurrently living.[2] The first were Rear Admirals Thomas O. Selfridge, Sr. and Junior. Stirling's younger son, Archibald (1884-1963), was a captain in the Navy.

Stirling was a companion of the Maryland Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States as a veteran commissioned officer of the Civil War. He was a grandson of Thomas Yates (1740-1815), Captain, Fourth Battalion, Maryland Regulars during the American Revolutionary War.[3]

Naval career[edit]

Stirling attended private schools in Baltimore as a youth. He was appointed by Representative Henry Winter Davis of Maryland to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, as an acting midshipman on 27 September 1860. In June 1861, Stirling and several other midshipman, including Robley "Fighting Bob" Evans, future hero of the Spanish–American War, submitted letters of resignation, believing their loyalty was with the Confederacy. Four weeks later they had second thoughts and retracted their resignations, expressing loyalty to the Union.[4] When the rank of acting midshipman was abolished on 16 July 1862, his rank became midshipman. After the American Civil War broke out in April 1861, the Academy moved to Newport, Rhode Island, for the duration of the war and Stirling graduated one year ahead of schedule in 1863 due to the expanded U.S. Navy's need for officers during the war. He was commissioned as an ensign on 28 May 1863.[5][6]

USS Onondaga on the James River, 1864-65, with Union Soldiers in the foreground.

Stirling served for the rest of the war in the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron as part of the Union Blockade of the Confederate States of America. His first duty was aboard the screw sloop-of-war USS Shenandoah until 13 April 1864, when Shenandoah began a period under repair in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He then served aboard the flagship of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, the monitor USS Onondaga, on the James River in Virginia until reporting back aboard Shenandoah for duty when she returned to service in June 1864. Aboard Shenandoah he saw combat at Fort Fisher in North Carolina in both the First Battle of Fort Fisher in December 1864 and the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in January 1865 and remained on blockade duty through the end of the war in April 1865.[7]

LCDR Yates Stirling, taken in 1868.

After the war, Stirling served aboard the gunboat USS Mohongo in the Pacific Squadron from 1865 to 1867 and was promoted to lieutenant on 10 November 1866. Promoted to lieutenant commander on 12 March 1868, he was aboard the newly commissioned screw frigate USS Wampanoag during her brief initial deployment as flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron in 1868. He then served aboard the next flagship of the squadron, the screw sloop-of-war USS Contoocook, from 1868 to 1869 before a tour aboard the receiving ship USS Independence at the Mare Island Navy Yard at Vallejo, California, from 1871 to 1872.[8][9][10] While stationed at Mare Island, his son and namesake, Yates, Jr. was born on 30 April 1872. After a lengthy period on sick leave from 1873 to 1875, Stirling returned to duty aboard the receiving ship USS Worcester at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia, from 1875 to 1876. He had torpedo duty in 1877, then had ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., from 1877 to 1879.[11][12]

USS Lackawanna, crew at quarters for inspection, circa September 1880 to September 1881.

Stirling returned to sea in 1878 as commanding officer of the screw sloop-of-war USS Lackawanna in the Pacific Squadron and was promoted to commander on 26 November 1880 during his tour aboard Lackawanna. Detaching from Lackawanna in 1881, he had a second tour of duty at the Washington Navy Yard from 1882 to 1884 before a sea assignment as commanding officer of the sloop-of-war USS Iroquois in the Pacific Squadron from 1884 to 1886. He then commanded the receiving ship USS Dale at the Washington Navy Yard from 1887 to 1890 and the gunboat and dispatch vessel USS Dolphin from March 1890 to June 1891.[13][14]

Stirling had duty as a lighthouse inspector from December 1892 to December 1894 and was promoted to captain on 16 September 1894. He awaited orders from December 1894 until May 1895, then was commanding officer of the protected cruiser USS Newark from May 1895 to July 1896 and of the screw sloop-of-war USS Lancaster from July 1896 to June 1897. He was commander of the South Atlantic Squadron from July to December 1897. After duty as a member of the Lighthouse Board from 31 March 1898 to 1 July 1900, he became commandant of Naval Station San Juan in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 21 November 1900, serving in that capacity into 1902.[15][16] In May 1900, while commandant at San Juan, Captain Stirling rescued the Lloyd's agent there, a man named Butler who had jumped off the municipal pier that had caught fire.[17] Stirling was promoted to rear admiral on 8 June 1902. Following his promotion, he was named commandant of the Puget Sound Navy Yard, where his son, Yates, Jr. joined him shortly thereafter as an officer of the yard.[18]

Stirling was commander-in-chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet from 11 July 1904 to 23 March 1905[19] before retiring from the Navy on 6 May 1905 at the mandatory age of 62.[20] During the time he commanded the Asiatic Fleet, his flag was on the USS Wisconsin (BB-9) and his son, Yates, Jr. served as his flag lieutenant. When he was interviewed shortly after his retirement, Stirling recalled an incident early in his career when he was first lieutenant taking a ship into a New England harbor with some difficulty. An old lobsterman in a dory piled high with traps managed to interfere with the ship's passage. After Stirling called down to the lobsterman with some "choice deep sea language", the old man leisurely rested on his oars and replied, "And who be you?" Stirling blustered back, "Who am I? I'm the first officer of this ship." "Well, go to your skipper, then," replied the ancient mariner with dignity. "I don't argue with nobody but my equals an I'm cap'n o' this."[21]


Yates Stirling is in the front row on the left in this photograph of 13 retired United States Navy rear admirals and one retired United States Marine Corps major general taken ca. 1923.

Stirling died on 5 March 1929 at his home, 11 East Chase Street, Baltimore, Maryland, survived by this wife, two sons and three daughters. He was 85 years old and had been ill for about five years. He is buried along with his wife, sons, and daughter Helen, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Service Medals[edit]

United States awards[edit]

Civil War Campaign Medal Spanish Campaign Medal

The original service criteria for the Spanish Campaign Medal promulgated in Navy Department Special Order No. 81 of 27 June 1908 required service on specific vessels and time periods for which Stirling's service during the Spanish–American War did not qualify. However, in the early 1920s, the award criteria was relaxed to provide for award of the medal to all those who served in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps during the Spanish–American War. The first government contract to supply campaign medals to the expanded recipient base with the Bastian Brothers Company did not occur until 1922.

Dates of rank[edit]

Navyacademylogo.jpg United States Naval Academy Graduated Midshipman 1863
Ensign Lieutenant Junior Grade Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4
US Navy O1 insignia.svg US Navy O2 insignia.svg US Navy O3 insignia.svg U.S. Navy O-4 insignia.svg
May 28, 1863 Never held November 10, 1866 March 12, 1868
Commander Captain Commodore Rear Admiral
O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8
US Navy O5 insignia.svg US Navy O6 insignia.svg US Navy O7 insignia.svg US Navy O8 insignia.svg
November 26, 1880 September 16, 1894 Never Held June 8, 1902

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Adm Yates Stirling Sr". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  2. ^ "Yates Stirling". Arlington Cemetery.net. Retrieved 2012-01-16.
  3. ^ A National Register of the Society, Sons of the American Revolution, Volume 1, Louis H. Cornish, New York, 1902
  4. ^ Yorkville Enquirer, April 2, 1898
  5. ^ Hamersly, p. 86.
  6. ^ Naval History and Heritage Command: Officers of the Continental and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775–1900.
  7. ^ Hamersly, p. 86.
  8. ^ Hamersly, p. 86.
  9. ^ Naval History and Heritage Command: Officers of the Continental and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775–1900.
  10. ^ Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships: Wampanoag I
  11. ^ Hamersly, p. 86.
  12. ^ Naval History and Heritage Command: Officers of the Continental and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775–1900.
  13. ^ Hamersly, p. 86.
  14. ^ Naval History and Heritage Command: Officers of the Continental and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775–1900.
  15. ^ Hamersly, p. 86.
  16. ^ Naval History and Heritage Command: Officers of the Continental and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, 1775–1900.
  17. ^ The Evening Star, June 20, 1902
  18. ^ Aberdeen Herald, August 25, 1902
  19. ^ Tolley, p. 318.
  20. ^ Rock Island Argus, May 6, 1905
  21. ^ The East Oregonian, July 10, 1905


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Philip H. Cooper
Commander-in-Chief, United States Asiatic Fleet
11 July 1904–23 March 1905
Succeeded by
William M. Folger