George Collier Remey – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

I am Mary Remey Wadleigh, daughter of George Remey Wadleigh, granddaughter of John Winthrop Wadleigh, great granddaughter of George Collier Remey and great niece of John Terry Remey.  I can tell you something about all of these men.

My father, George Remey Wadleigh, was born to John Winthrop & Mary Remey Wadleigh in Washington, D.C. on September 13, 1920. He was their fourth son. His older brother, John Remey Wadleigh, attended the U. S. Naval Academy, served with distinction in World War II and was eventually commissioned a Rear Admiral. Infant twin brothers were born and died at or shortly after birth in 1917 or 1918. Their graves are in the family plot also, though the small stones may not be readily identifiable now. My father graduated from Harvard College in 1942, served with distinction in the Navy during Worlfd War II and became a Foreign Service officer in late 1947  He died of polio January 13, 1950, having become ill traveling from Bordeaux, France to Lisbon, Portugal, where he was to assume a new post at the U. S. Embassy. He left his widow, Josephine Kidder Wadleigh and three very young children. I was just a week short of 3 years old, my brother David Howland Wadleigh was 20 months old and my brother George Remey Wadleigh was just four weeks old, when our father died.

John Winthrop Wadleigh also died very young. He was an officer in the U. S. Marines and contracted yellow fever, I believe, while at sea in the spring of 1923. He left his widow, Mary Remey Wadleigh, for whom I was named, and my father and uncle, then aged 2 and 7, respectively.  (John W. Wadleigh's father was a distinguished Navy admiral, George Henry Wadleigh, best known for initiating the plan to establish a naval base at Subic Bay, in the Phillippines, among many other exploits.)

George Collier Remey was also a distinguished Admiral and a close friend of the above-mentioned George Henry Wadleigh. It must have been a great joy to them both when their children fell in love and married — and a great tragedy when John W. Wadleigh died so young.  I believe that both Adm. Wadleigh & Adm. Remey saw action in the Civil War, at the very beginning of their naval careers.  They were both honored by having destroyers named for them during World War II. DD688 was the USS Remey and DD689 was the USS Wadleigh.  There is a great deal of information about them in the archives of the Naval Academy, much of it online.

John Terry Remey was the youngest son of Admiral Remey.  Although he was still alive when I was born, I believe, I do not remember ever meeting him and I do not know much about him — except that he graduated from Harvard College.

I hope this is somewhat useful.  Please contact me if you need more information.  I can probably find out more, if you need it.

Remey, George Collier (August 10, 1841 – February 10, 1928), naval officer, was born in Burlington, Iowa, the second son of William Butler and Eliza Smith (Howland) Remey. He was a descendant of Abram Remy, a Huguenot who came to Virginia in 1700, and of John Howland, a pilgrim who came in the Mayflower. He entered the United States Naval Academy on September 20, 1855, the youngest and also the smallest of his class, and was graduated fourth among the twenty members of the class of 1859.

A cruise in the Hartford to China and Japan preceded active Civil War service. He was in the gunboat Marblehead, operating in Virginia waters during the Peninsular Campaign from March to July, 1862, and afterward on the Charleston blockade. In April 1863, he became executive of the Canandaigua; commanded for ten days the Marblehead during attacks on Fort Wagner; and had charge of a battery of heavy naval guns on Morris Island from August 23 to September 7. On the night of September 7-8 he commanded the second division in an ill-fated boat attack on Fort Sumter. His boat, the only one of his divisions to make shore, was smashed by gun-fire on landing, and about an hour and a half later Remey and his party were compelled to surrender under the walls of the fort. Of the total force of about 450 only 104 got ashore, and all these were captured. With other officers taken in the attack he was imprisoned during the next thirteen months in the jail at Columbia, South Carolina, making one almost successful attempt at escape by a tunnel under the prison walls.

After his exchange he was executive in the De Soto, fitting out at Baltimore, till the close of the war. He was one of six officers assigned to the White House for two days after Lincoln's assassination, and acted as aide to Farragut at the President's funeral. From then until the Spanish-American War his service followed routine lines, including duty off Chile during the Spanish bombardment of Valparaiso in 1866, as second in command of a surveying expedition in Tehuantepec in 1870-71, and in the Mediterranean during the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882. His first command in the grade of captain (1885) was the flagship Charleston, Pacific Squadron, 1889-92.

At the outbreak of the War with Spain he was called from the command of the Portsmouth navy yard to take charge of the naval base at Key West, Florida. This duty carried heavy responsibilities, including the supply and repair of all naval forces in Cuban waters, the command of vessels within the administration of the base, which included the Dry Tortugas, and the organization of the convoy for Shafter's army to Cuba. Shortly after peace was concluded he resumed command of the Portsmouth yard.

He was made Rear Admiral in November 1898, and assumed command of the Asiatic station in April 1900, a highly important assignment in view of the Philippine warfare and the Boxer uprising in China. In his flagship Brooklyn he was off Taku from July to October 1900, during the march on Peking, and in 1901 he visited Australia at the opening of its first parliament. After a year as chairman of the Lighthouse Board, he retired Aug. 10, 1903, and lived subsequently in Washington, D. C., and Newport, Rhode Island.

He died in Washington and was buried at Burlington, Iowa. He was married on July 8, 1873, to Mary Josephine, daughter of Charles Mason, and had two daughters and four sons. Though not selected for the highest command in the war with Spain, his assignment to Key West and later to the Asiatic was–to quote the Secretary of the Navy's notice at his death–a recognition of the “good judgment and unflagging close attention to duty” which marked his whole career.

Oldest Graduate of U.S. Naval Academy a Victim of Pneumonia
His Civil War Services
Commanded Asiatic Fleet in Philippine Insurrection and China Relief Expedition

WASHINGTON, February 11, 1928 – Rear Admiral George C. Remey, oldest retired officer of the Navy and oldest graduate of the United States Naval Academy, died at his home here last night at the age of 86 after a two days’ illness of bronchial pneumonia.

Graduated from Annapolis in 1859, he saw active service in the Civil War, serving with both the North and South Atlantic Blockading Squadrons.  He commanded the naval base at Kew West during the Spanish-American War and was Commander-in-Chief of the Asiatic Fleet from 1900 to 1902 during the early days of the Philippine Insurrection and the China Relief Expedition.

Since his retirement in 1903, Admiral and Mrs. Remey had spent their Winters in Washngton and their Summers in Newport, Rhode Island.

He was appointed a Midshipman June 9, 1859, advanced through the various ranks to Rear Admiral November 22, 1898, and retired August 10, 1903.

During the Civil War he participated in the siege of Yorktown and other engagements, and commanded a squadron of boats in the night attack on sort Sumter, September 8, 1863.  He was taken prisoner and spent the next thirteen months in Columbia Jail and Libby Prison, being exchanged as a prisoner of war November 15, 1864.  His last appointment before retirement was as Chairman of the Lighthouse Board.

Admiral Remey was born in Burlington, Iowa, August 10, 1841, the second son of William Butler Remey and Eliza Smith Howland Remey.  He entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1855 and graduated as one of the five honor men of the class.  He was married July 8, 1873 to Mary Josephine Mason, daughter of Chief Justice Charles Mason of Iowa.

Besides his widow, Admiral Remey is survived by three sons, Charles Mason Remey and William B. Remey, both of this city, and John Terry Remey of New York City, and two daughters, Miss Angelica G. Remey of this city and Mrs. John W. Wadleigh of Newport, Rhode Island.

Funeral services will be at St. Thomas Episcopal Church Tuesday. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

Rear Admiral George Collier Remey
Born August 10, 1841 in Burlington, Iowa
Died February 10, 1928 in Burlington, Iowa

Cadet, U. S. Naval Academy 1855-59
Acting Midshipman September 20, 1855
Midshipman June 9, 1859
Lieutenant August 31, 1861
Lieutenant Commander June 25, 1865
Commander November 25, 1872
Captain October 30, 1885
Commodore June 19, 1897
Rear Admiral November 22, 1898

Served with USS. Hartford, East India Squadron 1859-61
Leave of absence 1861-62
Served with USS. Marblehead, North & South Atlantic Blockading Squadrons 1862-63
Executive Officer, USS. Canadaigua, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron 1863
Commanding Officer, USS. Marblehead, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron 1863
Commander, Naval Battery, Ft. Morris, South Carolina 1863
Prisoner of War 1863-64
Executive Officer, USS. De Sota 1865
Served with USS. Mohongo, Pacific Squadron 1865-67
Assistant Instructor, US. Naval Academy 1867-69
Served with USS. Sabrine 1869-70
Ordnance duty at Pittsburgh 1870
2nd in Command, Tehauntepec & Nicaraguan Survey Expedition 1870-71
Served at Naval Observatory, Washington D.C. 1871-72
Temporary Commanding Officer, USS. Frolic 1872
Served with Staff, North Atlantic Station 1872-73
Leave ob absence 1873-74
Served with Bureau of Yards & Docks 1874-75
Commander, Naval Forces, Rio Grande River 1875-76
Served with Bureau of Yards & Docks 1876
Unassigned 1876-77
Commanding Officer, USS. Enterprise, North Atlantic Station 1877-78
Unassigned 1878-79
Served with Bureau of Yards & Docks 1879-81
Served with Staff, European Station 1881-83
Unassigned 1883-84
Equipment Officer, Navy Yard, Washington D.C. 1884-86
Captain of the Yard, Navy Yard, Norfolk 1886-89
Commanding Officer, USS. Charleston, Pacific Squadron 1889-92
Captain of the Yard, Navy Yard, Portsmouth 1889-95
Member, Naval Retiring & Examining Boards 1895-96
Commandant, Navy Yard, Portsmouth 1896-98
Commandant, Naval Base, Key West 1898
Commandant, Navy Yard, Portsmouth 1898-00
Commander, Asiatic Station 1900-02
Chairman, Light House Board 1902-03
Retired August 10, 1903

George Collier Remey was born in Iowa in 1841 and died in 1928.  He was buried with full military honors in Section 15 of Arlington National Cemetery.  His wife, Mary Mason Remey (1845-1938) is buried with him.

Courtesy of the Burlington, Iowa, Library:

Rear Admiral George Collier Remey – This bronze bust of native Burlingtonian Admiral Remey (1841-1928) was presented by his son, Charles Mason Remey, in 1933. Admiral Remey was prominent during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War as the first United States admiral born west of the Mississippi River.

CHARLES MASON REMEY of Washington, D.C. Architect with a diploma from the French Government; now the Second. Guardian or Head. of the Baha’i World. Faith: was born at Burlington, Iowa, on May 15, 1874, the eldest son of Rear Admiral George Collier Remey, U.S.N., and. Mary Josephine Mason Remey (daughter of Charles Mason, the first Chief Justice of Iowa).

The Admiral's brother, John Terry Remey, Lieutenant (jg) United States Navy is buried nearby in Section 15 of Arlington National Cemetery.  Also buried in this section are other relatives:  John Winthrop Wadleigh, Major, United States Marine Corps, and George Remey Wadleigh, Lieutenant, United States Navy, and Foreign Service Officer.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/10/1928
  • BURIED AT:   SITE 13


  • LT JG U S N R F
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/09/1890
  • DATE OF DEATH: 11/09/1960
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/14/1960


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/09/1890
  • DATE OF DEATH: 11/09/1960
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 11/17/1960


  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/01/1938
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 03/04/1938

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