Biography of A. R. McNair

D-Descriptive guide of the battlefield of Saratoga



LIEUT. COMMANDER ANTOINE de REILHE MCNAIR, U. S. Navy, was born in the city of New Orleans, La., September 15, 1839. He was appointed acting midshipman to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, September 22, 1856, from the First Congressional District of Missouri, and was graduated therefrom in the class of 1860. He served on the sloop of war “Preble” in 1857, and the “Plymouth” in 1859, and on June 15, 1860, was graduated and promoted to midshipman. The subject of this sketch is one of the Southern born officers of the Navy who stood true to his oath of allegiance to the United States in 1861. His older brother, Fred. A. C. McNair and himself, turned their backs on kith and kin and all worldly possessions, and drew their swords in defense of the right. Fred. A. C. McNair sealed his devotion to the old flag with his life. Mr. McNair was on the sloop of war “Seminole” from June, 1860, to July, 1862, and during that time saw service along the coast of Brazil and other parts of South America; was on blockade duty off Charleston, S. C.; on the Potomac river, attacking the Confederate batteries at Freestone Point, Va., and Evansport, Va.; participated in the battle of Port Royal, S. C.; had boat service in the sounds of Georgia and South Carolina; was at the cutting off of Fort Pulaski, Ga., and the attack on “Thunderbolt Battery,” Skiddaway Island, Ga.; was in Hampton Roads against the “Merrimac” and participated in the capture of Norfolk gnd the destruction of the “Merrimac.” In August, 1861, he was promoted to the grade of master for faithful services in battle, and in July, 1862, was promoted to lieutenant for “gallant and meritorious” services at Port Royal, Fort Pulaski, the capture of Norfolk and destruction of the ‘Merrimac,” and served on the steam frigate “Powhatan “from July, 1862, to June, 1864. From July, 1862, till April, 1863, he was engaged in general service at the front and participated in the attacks on Fort Sumter’ and Charleston in April, 1863. In July, 1863, he was wounded at the capture of Morris Island, S. C., batteries, and in September, 1863, was at the attacks on Charleston made by Admirals Du Pont and Dahigren. From October, 1863, to June, 1864, he was serving in the West Indies, convoying mail steamers and searching for the “Florida” and “Alabama,” in command of the U. S. S. “Gemsbok.” He was at the attack on Fort Fisher, entrance to the Cape Fear River, N. C., in December, 1864, and at its capture, in January, 1865, on board the U. S. frigate “New Ironsides.” In February and March, 1865, he was in front of the Confederate rams in James river; was present at the grand smash up in front of Richmond, Va., April, 1865. In July, 1866, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-commander for “gallant and meritorious” services in the late war, and during 1866—67 was naval instructor at the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. He-served on different commands from 1867 to October, 1872, when he was retired, owing to an injury received in the line of duty in the West Indies. December 13, 1871, Commander McNair married Frances Clarke, daughter of Benedict Clarke and Maria Brattle Clarke of Saratoga Springs, and they had three children: Frederick Park McNair, private and corporal in the Second N.Y. Vols., on duty in the Spanish-American war, Jessie MeNair, and Alexander McNair, who was killed by an accident in his fifth year. Frederick Park McNair was promoted second lieutenant Two Hundred and Second N. Y. Infantry Vols., September 29, 1898, and died October 18, 1898, at Saratoga Springs, N. Y., from pernicious malarial fever contracted in camp at Tampa, Florida, in his twenty-fifth year. Commander McNair is a son of Antoine de Reilhe and Elvina (Johnson) McNair. For five generations, members of this historic. family have served in tbe uniform of the United States, and Commander McNair is justly included in the list of this country’s most faithful defenders.

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