Alexander Rhind

For the Scottish footballer, see Alex Rhind. For others with the same name, see Rhind.
Alexander Colden Rhind
Born (1821-10-31)October 31, 1821
New York City, New York
Died November 8, 1897(1897-11-08) (aged 76)
New York City, New York
Place of burial Colden Family Cemetery, Montgomery, New York
Allegiance  USA
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 18381883
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held Crusader
Paul Jones
Battles/wars Mexican–American War
American Civil War

Alexander Colden Rhind (October 31, 1821 November 8, 1897) was an rear admiral in the United States Navy, who served during the Mexican–American War and American Civil War.


Early career

Rhind was born in New York City, New York, the son of Charles Rhind, a prominent shipowner who also served as Minister to Turkey from 1827.[1] His mother, Susan Fell,[2] was a descendant of Cadwallader Colden, the Governor of the colonial Province of New York from 1769 to 1771.[1]

Rhind was appointed midshipman on September 3, 1838,[3] and between 1839 and 1841 he served on the Mediterranean Station aboard the frigate Ohio and the sloop Cyane.[1] He then served aboard the sloop Warren in the West Indies in 1842-43, then on the frigate Macedonian off the coast of Africa in 1843-44, before attending the Philadelphia Naval School in 1844-45. Promoted to passed midshipman on July 2, 1845, Rhind served on the brig Washington on the Coast Survey in 1845-46, which was then attached the Home Squadron on the coast of Mexico during the Mexican–American War, being present at Alvarado and Tabasco.[4]

Rhind served on the steamer Water Witch in 1848, before rejoining the Coast Survey aboard the schooner Ewing on a voyage to the coast of California in 1849-50. He then served aboard the sloop St. Mary's in the East Indies in 1850-51, before returning to the Coast Survey, where he remained until 1854,[4] receiving promotion to the rank of master on April 30, 1853.[5]

Rhind was commissioned as a lieutenant on February 17, 1854,[5] and served on the sloop John Adams on the Pacific Station,[1] but in May 1855[6] was court-martialed after a disagreement with his commander, and left the Navy in September 1855.[7] Eventually reinstated, Rhind served on the sloop Constellation, the flagship of the Africa Squadron from 1859-61.[4]

Civil War

On December 14, 1861, during the American Civil War, Rhind was ordered to take command of the screw steamer Crusader; and, while commanding her,[3] earned the Thanks of the Navy Department in a letter dated September 7, 1864,[4] for the capture and destruction of Confederate works commanding the South Edisto, Dawho, and Pon-Pon Rivers, in April 1862,[3] and received promotion to lieutenant commander on July 16, 1862.[5]

Promoted to commander on January 2, 1863,[5] in that year he participated in the attacks on Charleston's defenses as commanding officer of the ironclad ram Keokuk. During the attack on April 7, 1863, Keokuk was struck over 90 times in 30 minutes, suffering 19 holes at or near her waterline. Retiring, she was kept afloat until the following morning, before finally sinking, by which time the crew had been taken off.[3]

Later, after commanding the gunboat Paul Jones and the screw frigate Wabash, on October 23, 1863, he assumed command of the side-wheel gunboat Agawam on the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and earned praise from Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee for the "gallantry and endurance displayed" by himself and his crew during an engagement with three batteries at Deep Bottom on August 13, 1864.[3]

In December 1864 he was detailed to command the powder boat Louisiana,[3] which was loaded with 215 tons of gunpowder,[8] then towed by Wilderness to a point 250 yards off Fort Fisher. There Commander Rhind and his crew set the fuzes and started a fire before escaping to Wilderness. The blast from the explosion, although loud, did little damage and two days later Rhind returned to close proximity to the fort to plant a marker buoy as near to the fort as possible to allow the fleet to bombard Fort Fisher at close range.[3] Admiral Porter, in his official report to the Navy Department, wrote;

"In conclusion, allow me to draw your attention to Commander Rhind and Lieutenant Preston. They engaged in the most perilous adventure that was, perhaps, ever undertaken. As an incentive to others I beg leave to recommend them for promotion. No one in the squadron considered that their lives would be saved, and Commander Rhind and Lieutenant Preston had made an arrangement to sacrifice themselves in case the vessel was boarded, a thing likely to happen."[4]

In 1866 he became a Companion of the First Class of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) - a military society composed of the officers of Union armed forces and their descendants. He was assigned MOLLUS insignia number 208.

Post-war career

After the war, Rhind served as the commander of the receiving ship Vermont at New York City, then as commander of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1869-70, finally receiving promotion to the rank of captain on March 2, 1870.[5]

He commanded the screw sloop Congress from 1872-76 on the European Station, receiving promotion to commodore on September 30, 1876, then serving as a Lighthouse Inspector until 1879. He was President of the Board of Inspection and Survey from 1880–1882, and then Governor of the Naval Asylum in 1883. He was promoted to rear admiral on October 30, 1883, the day before his retirement, having reached the mandatory age.[1]

In 1890 he became a Veteran Member of the Aztec Club of 1847.

Rear Admiral Rhind died at New York, on November 8, 1897,[3] and is buried at the Colden Family Cemetery, Montgomery, New York.[9]


The Benham-class destroyer USS Rhind (DD-404), launched in July 1938, was named for him.[3]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Death of Admiral Rhind" (PDF). The New York Times. 10 November 1897. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  2. "The life of William Alexander, Earl of Stirling, Major-General in the Army of the United States during the Revolution". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Rhind". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History & Heritage Command. 25 September 2005. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "The records of living officers of the U.S. Navy & Marine Corps : compiled from official sources". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "US Navy Officers, 1775-1900 (R)". Archived from the original on December 5, 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  6. "Trial of Lieut. A.C. Rhind, before a naval court martial in the Pacific Ocean, in May, 1855". Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  7. Terry Foenander. "Burial Sites of Union Navy Veterans". Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  8. "Fort Fisher - The Powder Vessel". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  9. "Colden Family Cemetery, Orange County, New York". Retrieved 26 October 2010.
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