Born in Baltimore, Md. 17 September 1800, Franklin Buchanan entered the Navy as a Midshipman at the age of 14 on board the frigate JAVA in 1815. He organized the Naval Academy as its first Superintendent (1845-47). He commanded the sloop GERMANTOWN in the Mexican War; and the sloop SUSQUEHANNA, flagship of Perry's squadron, in the expedition to Japan in 1852.

On the morning of July 14, 1853 he became the first American to land on Japanese soil while leading the landing of Perry's party near the village of Kurihama . In 1859 he became Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard.

He resigned his commission as captain in 1861, when it seemed Maryland would secede for the Union. His views were not as a secessionist, but felt it only proper to fight for the well-being of his family in that state. Maryland held with the Union. When Buchanan tried to recall his resignation, the Secretary of the navy wrote him saying the President had stricken his name from the rolls of the navy. This treatment, coupled with his sympathy for the south, caused Buchanan to join the Confederate Navy with the rank of Captain.

In February, 1862, Buchanan was placed in command of the navel defense of the James River on board ironclad CSS Virginia ( aka USS Merrimack in US Navy before capture at Norfolk and conversion into ironclad). Buchanan was able to destroy the Union frigate CUMBERLAND and capture the CONGRESS. He was severely wounded and relieved of command and therefore unable to participate during the first battle of the ironclads the following day (The Battle of Hampton Roads - MONITOR/MERRIMAC). These successful assaults resulted in Buchanan's promotion to Admiral, the ranking officer in the Confederate Navy.
He was the commanding officer of the Iron Clad TENNESSEE at the Battle of Mobile Bay, made famous by his opponent Admiral Farraguts's famous statement " Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead."

He was twice wounded severely and was taken prisoner of war, 5 August 1864.

Admiral Buchanan died at his home "The Rest" in Talbot County, Md. 11 May 1874.

   On November 6, 2011 Phil Beinke (who served on DDG 14) placed wreath from Buchanan Association DDG 14 at Admiral Franklin Buchanan’s grave site.  The ribbon reads on left “USS BUCHANAN DDG 14 ORG” on right “FOR ALL WHO SAILED UNDER THE BUCHANAN NAME”      


For more information on Franklin Buchanan Referance - Confederate Admiral: The life and wars of Franklin Buchanan (Library of Navel Biography) by Craig L. Symonds


Links to sites with more information on Franklin Buchanan

Dept. of the Navy research page on Franklin Buchanan, including a wide variety of images.

MSN encyclopedia article on Franklin Buchanan.

An after action report, written by Franklin Buchanan

Photos of Gave site/tombstone and general information 


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