Rear-Admiral Charles Wilkes, U. S. N.
A nephew of the celebrated John Wilkes of London, this officer in 1838-42 led the exploring expedition that discovered the Antarctic continent.
In 1861 he obtained fame of another kind by seizing Mason and Slidell aboard the British steamer “Trent” and conveying them to Boston in his ship, the “San Jacinto.”
He had been cruising in the West Indies, looking for the Confederate cruiser “Sumter,” and seized the opportunity for what appeared to be bigger game.
Wilkes was thanked by Congress and applauded by the people of the North, but his act nearly brought on a war with England.
On August 28, 1862, in command of a flotilla, he destroyed City Point, which was later to become the army base in the closing operations in Virginia.
Wilkes afterward did excellent service with his famous “flying squadron,” capturing blockade-runners in the West Indian waters. |