The Civil War Connections Blog

Meet Hiram Paulding…

Hiram Paulding was born the same year as the venerable frigate USS Constitution – 1797.  Therefore it was fitting that his first berth was on that same vessel when he entered the service as a midshipman in 1811 at the age of 14.  A veteran of the battle of Lake Champlain in 1814, he continued his ascension within the US Navy, serving in the Mediterranean, Pacific, Caribbean and South Atlantic before entering what he believed would be his last service before retirement – commander of the Home Squadron.  But the impending sectional crisis kept him active and the Navy required his services in Washington D.C. at the Navy Department where his career became inextricably linked to current and future events in Hampton Roads. Paulding had been in charge, albeit too late, (and according to pundits at the time, too ineffectually), of the evacuation of Gosport in April of 1861.[1]Following his service with the Ironclad Board, he found himself commandant of the New York Navy Yard where ironclads would eventually become standard fare. Whatever his personal opinion was of ironclads and steam-powered vessels, his professional life from 1861 onward was dominated by them.

[1] Horace Greeley, The American Conflict: A History of the Great Rebellion In the United States of America, 1860-’64, Volume I, O.D. Case & Company, Hartford, CT, 1864, pp 475-7.