Biography of Henry Walke
Prominent Persons in Virginia, Biographies





Walke, Henry, naval officer, was born in Princess Anne county, Virginia, December 24, 1808; son of Anthony Walke, and a descendant of Thomas Walke, who emigrated from England in the seventeenth century. His parents removed to Chillicothe, Ohio. in 1811, and his father served in the Ohio house of representatives, 1827-31, and in the senate, 1831-35. On February 1, 1827, Henry was appointed midshipman on the Alert and in July, 1833, was advanced to iassed midshipman. He was commissioned lieutenant in February, 1839; was with the United States fleet in the war with Mexico, at Vera Cruz, Tabasco, Tuspan and Alvarndo. He was promoted commander in 1855 and commanded the store-ship Supply, 1858-61. Being stationed in Pensacola harbor, after Lieut. Slemmer and his troops had evacuated Fort Barrancas ana taken refuge in Fort Pickens, he took the officers' families on board the Supply, and with the paroled prisoners, transported them to New York, although he had been ordered to Vera Cruz. He was court-martialed for disobeying orders and was reprimanded by the secretary of the navy, but the country applauded his patriotism in rescuing one hundred and six sick soldiers and noncombatants penned up in Fort Pickens. On September 12, 1861, he was ordered to relieve John Rodgers, in command of the little flotilla on the Mississippi river, and with a detail of officers he reconnoitered down the Mississippi to Columbus. In November he conveyed Gen. Grant's transports to Belmont, and led in the attack on that place, prevented the landing of a Confederate force, and protected Grant's army as it re-embarked on the transports. Commander Walke was transferred to the Carondelet and on February 6, 1862, took part in the assault upon Fort Henry under Flag-Officer Foote, and during the interval after the surrender of the fort and before the arrival oi Grant, he was in command of the fort. Under orders from Grant, Walke proceeded to Fort Donelson and engaged the enemy on February 13, 1862. Foote arrived in the evening and on the afternoon of February 14, the entire fleet renewed the attack, the Carondelet suffering severely. After undergoing some repairs, the Carondelet joined Foote's fleet above Island No. to and on March 30, 1862, Walke volunteered to run the gauntlet of the forts and support Pope at New Madrid. This he accomplished on the night of April 4, 1862, and on April 7, silenced the batteries at Watson's Landing and covered the landing of Pope's army and the capture of the Island. When, on May 10, 1862, eight Confederate rams steamed up the river at full speed to attack mortar boat No. 16 and her consort the Cincinnati, the Carondclct was practically the only boat ready for an encounter. She attacked the boats and drove them all under the protection of Fort Pillow before the other Union boats arrived. Fort Pillow was abandoned, June 4, and on June 6, Walke, with the Carondelet, engaged in the battle of Memphis. Farragut moved up to Vicksburg, passed the fleets and was joined by Capt. Davis, who had succeeded Foote. In making a reconnoisance of the Yazoo river, Walke, meeting with the ram Arkansas, retreated and was pursued until, with his steering gear disabled, he ran close into the bank, and the ram in passing discharged repeated broadsides into the Carondelet, and kept on her way to Vicksburg. He was promoted captain, July 16, 1862, was given command of the gun-boats patrolling the river below Helena, and in December made an excursion up the Yazoo. He led the second division of Porter's fleet at Grand Gulf, April 29, 1863, and remained in the Mississippi squadron until September 24, 1863, when he was assigned to the Sacramento and sent in search of the Alabama. When he arrived at Lisbon he learned of her destruction by the Kearsarge, but he blockaded the Rappahannock at Calais for fifteen months, and after her escape, pursued her to Liverpool, where he held her until the end of the war. He was promoted commo(lore, July 25, 1866; rear-admiral, July 13, 1870, and was retired at his own request, April 26, 1871. He is the author of: "Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of the Civil War" (1877). He died in Brooklyn, New York, March 8, 1896.


FROM:
Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography
Volume III
By: Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL. D.
Lewis Historical Publishing Company
New York 1915



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