William Nicholson Jeffers

William Nicholson Jeffers

William Jeffers
Born (1824-10-06)October 6, 1824
Swedesboro, New Jersey
Died July 23, 1883(1883-07-23) (aged 58)
Washington, D.C.
Place of burial United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
United States Union Army
Years of service September 23, 1840-probably 1881
Rank Commodore
Commands held USS Philadelphia (1861)
USS Roanoke (1855)
USS Underwriter (1852)
USS Monitor (temporary)
USS Swatara (1872)
Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Commodore William Nicholson Jeffers (6 October 1824 23 July 1883) was a U.S. Navy officer of the 19th century. He took part in combat operations during the Mexican-American War and the American Civil War, and during the 1870s and early 1880s served as Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance.

Early life and career

Jeffers was born in Swedesboro, New Jersey, and was appointed midshipman 23 September 1840. His early service was in frigates Congress and United States, and during the Mexican-American War he took part in the attack on Alvarado, the capture of Tobasco, and the bombardment of Vera Cruz.[1]

In the 1850s he was engaged in numerous expeditions to Central America, and was responsible for a preliminary survey of the isthmus of Honduras.[1]

Civil War

During the early months of the Civil War, Jeffers commanded Philadelphia in the Potomac River and served in frigate Roanoke off Charleston and Hatteras Inlet. In December 1861 he took command of Underwriter and soon afterward took part in the capture of Roanoke Island and the destruction of the Confederate squadron at Elizabeth City. After the wounding of Captain John Lorimer Worden of USS Monitor during her historic engagement with CSS Virginia on 9 March 1862, Jeffers assumed command,[2] taking part mainly in shore bombardment in the James River.[1]

After Jeffers served aboard the Monitor he was assigned as Inspector of Ordnance in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.for the remainder of the war.[1][3]

Post-war career

Jeffers commanded Swatara in the Mediterranean and in African waters, and in 1873 was made Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance. Commodore Jeffers served in this capacity for eight years and contributed much to the science and literature of naval ordnance. He died at Washington 23 July 1883, and was buried in the cemetery of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.[1]


The destroyer USS Jeffers (DD-621) was named in his honor.



Further reading


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
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