Born at Middletown, Connecticut, on May 27, 1819, the son of a noted US Navy Officer. He entered the US Naval Academy as a midshipman in December 1836.
After a cruise on the USS Independence in 1838-41, he was promoted to passed midshipman in July 1842, and for a short time after that he was a naval aide to President John Tyler.
He then performed survey work in the Gulf of Mexico and on Lake Erie and was a naval storekeeper in Hawaii. He survived the wreck of a Chilian ship at Christmas Island while returning to the United States and was promoted to Lieutenant that same year (1849).
During the Civil War, he was in command of the gunboat Ottawa and took part with other gunboats, under the command of John Rodgers in driving off the Confederate flotilla on November 4, 1861 and in an attack on Fort Walker three days later.
He was promoted to Captain in 1866 and was a lighthouse inspector from 1867 to 1870. He was advanced to Commodore in November 1872 and served at the Norfolk Navy Yard from 1873 to 1880, receiving promotion to Rear Admiral in October 1879. He commanded the Pacific Squadron in 1880-81 and retired in May 1881.
He died at Rockville, Maryland, on May 15, 1896 and was buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.
Stevens, Thomas Holdup, May 27, 1819 – May 15, 1896), naval officer, son of Commodore Thomas Holdup Stevens, 1795-1841, and Elizabeth Read (Sage) Stevens, was born in Middletown, Connecticut.
As a youth he spent a year or more in the counting-house of his mother's cousin, Guerdon Hubbard, in Chicago, but then, following his early predilection, entered the navy as midshipman, December 14, 1836. After a cruise in the Brazil Squadron he studied for several months at the Philadelphia naval school, ranking third in his class upon promotion to passed midshipman, July 1, 1842. Brief service as aide to President Tyler was followed by survey duty in the Gulf of Mexico and an assignment to the Michigan, Lake Erie, 1843-44.
On November 2, 1844, occurred his marriage at Erie, Pennsylvania, to Anna Maria Christie. He was afterwards naval storekeeper at Honolulu, 1845-48. Returning home with his wife and his daughter, Ellen, in the Chilean ship Maria Helena, he was wrecked, January 4, 1848, on Christmas Island, the passengers and crew remaining there nearly three months before they were rescued. Stevens' account of this, Narrative of the Wreck of the Chilean Ship Maria Helena (1849), was reprinted in pamphlet form from the Polynesian. Subsequent service included duty at Sacketts Harbor, 1849; in the Michigan, Great Lakes, 1849-51; in west coast survey work, 1852-55; and in the Colorado, Home Squadron, 1858-60.
In the Civil War, commanding the gunboat Ottawa, he participated in the capture of Port Royal, November 7, 1861, and in later operations on the southeast coast, commanding the first expedition up the St. John's River, March-April 1862, which resulted in the occupation of Jacksonville and other towns and fortified points, and the capture of the yacht America, then owned by the Confederacy. This vessel was turned over for naval use without claims for prize-money. Later in 1862 he engaged in numerous operations in Virginia waters, opening up the Pamunkey River in the Maratanza, May 12, in support of George Brinton McClellan, capturing the gunboat Teazer, July 4, and commanding the Monitor in the James River in August during McClellan's withdrawal from the Peninsula. Transferred to the Sonoma in cruising operations, he chased the Florida thirty-four hours on the Bahama Banks, captured five prizes, and off Bermuda held up the steamer Gladiator, though convoyed by H. M. S. Desperate, until he was satisfied of her character, both naval vessels clearing for action. He commanded the monitor Patapsco in frequent actions around Charleston, August-September 1863, and, despite his unfavorable opinion of its success, was given charge of a desperate night boat attack, September 8, on Fort Sumter, which was repulsed with 124 casualties in his force of about four hundred (see his account of “The Boat Attack on Sumter” in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, vol. IV, 1888). In 1864 he commanded the Oneida of the Gulf Squadron, transferring temporarily to the monitor Winnebago in the battle of Mobile and later operating off Texas, where in July 1865 he was senior officer. From superiors, during this almost continuous active war service, he received uniformly high commendation for initiative and dependability).
Made Captain (1866), Commodore (1872), and Rear Admiral (1879), he was assigned service as lighthouse inspector, 1867-70; command of the Guerrière, European Squadron, 1870-71; varied duties at Norfolk, 1873-80; and command of the Pacific Squadron, 1880-81.
After retirement, May 27, 1881, he lived in Washington, D. C., occupying his leisure in part with writing on naval and other subjects. One of his articles, “Service under Du Pont,” appeared in the Times (Philadelphia), January 10, 1886. Of his family of three daughters and six sons, the eldest son became a rear admiral, and two others were officers respectively in the army and marine corps. He died at Rockville, Maryland, at the home of his daughter and was buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Thomas Holdup, Jr. , Naval Officer, born in Middletown, Connecticut, 27 May, 1819, was appointed a midshipman on 14 December, 1836, served as aide to President Tyler in 1842, received his commission as lieutenant on 10 May, 1849, and in 1852-‘5 commanded the schooner “Ewing” in surveys of the California and Oregon coasts. When tile civil war began he applied for duty at the front, was ordered to command the “Ottawa,” one of the ninety-day gunboats then building, raised a crew of volunteers at Erie, Pennsylvania, and joined the South Atlantic blockading squadron of Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont. While commanding a division of gun-boats, he drove the fleet of Commander Josiah Tat-hall under the protection of the forts at Port Royal, 4 November, 1861. In the battle of Port Royal he engaged Fort Walker at short range. On 1 January, 1862, he had an engagement with Commander Tatnall's Mosquito fleet in Savannah river. His command was the leading vessel in a combined attack of the navy and land forces on Fort Clinch, 3 March, 1862, and in the capture of the town of St. Mary's, Georgia, and commanded the first expedition up St. John's river, occupying Mayport Jacksonville Magnolia and Palatka and Fort Steele and Fort Finnegan, and capturing, the yacht “America.” He left the South Atlantic blockading squadron early in May, 1862, to take command of the steamer “Naratanza,” was present at the battle of West Point, and commanded the first expedition to Cumberland and White House to open James river, taking part in the demonstration against Petersburg and the battle of Nalvern Hill. On 4 July, 1862, he captured the Confederate gun-boat “Teazer.” He was promoted Commander on 16 July, and ordered to the iron-clad “Monitor,” with which he covered the flank of the army on James river and its rear during the withdrawal from the peninsula. In September, while attached to Commander Charles Wilkes's flying squadron, he captured five prizes, and chased the privateer “Florida” on the Bahama banks. On 7 October, 1862, off St. George, Bermuda, he stopped the steamer “Gladiator,” which had the appearance of a blockade-runner, while she was under the convoy of the British sloop-of-war “Desperate,” and both commanders cleared their decks for action. Early in August, 1863, he assumed command of the ironclad “Patapsco,” and in the engagements with the forts in Charleston harbor he performed gallant services. After a severe engagement with the batteries on Sullivan's island, he led a boat attack against Fort Sumter.
Afterward he commanded the “Oneida,” of the Western Gulf blockading squadron, but was temporarily transferred to the iron-clad “Winnebago” for the operations before Mobile in July, 1864, in which he was conspicuous for the handling of his vessel and his personal daring. He commanded the “Oneida” off the coast of Texas in 1865, was commissioned Captain on 26 July, 1866, commodore on 20 November, 1872, and Rear Admiral on 27 October, 1879, and, after commanding the Pacific fleet and acting as president of the board of visitors at the United States naval academy, he was retired on 27 May, 1881.
His son, THOMAS HOLDUP STEVEN III, is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard