They Sailed with General Lafayette

Experience the Marquis de Lafayette sailing to America

Illustration of the U.S.S. Brandywine off Malta on November 6, 1831 (From opposite page 26 of the book “Old Naval Days” by Sophie Radford de Meissner; a Public Domain Image in Wikipedia)

Illustration of the U.S.S. Brandywine off Malta on November 6, 1831 (From opposite page 26 of the book “Old Naval Days” by Sophie Radford de Meissner; a Public Domain Image in Wikipedia)

Sophie Radford de Meissner wrote sketches from the naval life of her father Rear Admiral William Radford, U.S.N. These sketches were published in her 1920 book “Old Naval Days.” The illustration of the U.S.S. Brandywine is from Chapter III; entitled “Lafayette.” As a young midshipman, William Radford had the honor to sail on The U.S.S. Brandywine as it conveyed General Lafayette on his final return trip from the United States to France in the fall of 1825.

General Lafayette requested that The U.S.S. Brandywine include Midshipmen from as many states as possible; with preference given to those men whose father or grandfather served in the Continental Army. The papers of William Radford contained a list of everybody on board that voyage of The U.S.S. Brandywine. His daughter included that list on page 27 of “Old Naval Days,” because, as she noted, “it may interest some of their descendants.” Which is the reason, I’m including the list here:

PASSENGERS on the 1825 Voyage returning Lafayette to France on The U.S.S. Brandywine

  • General Marquis de Lafayette
  • George Washington Lafayette
  • A. Levasseur, Secretary to General Lafayette
  • D. McCormick, U.S.N. (Surgeon, J.)
  • Capt. George C. Read, U.S.N.
  • Lt. Isaac Mayo, U.S.N. from Virginia
  • Lt. Bonneville, U.S.A.
  • Mr. Summerville, U. S. Minister to Stockholm

OFFICERS on the 1825 Voyage returning Lafayette to France on The U.S.S. Brandywine

  • Captain, Charles Morris
  • 1st Lt. Francis H. Gregory
  • 2nd Lt. Blanden Dulany
  • 3rd Lt. Ralph Voorhes
  • 4th Lt. Thomas Freelon
  • 5th Lt. Irvine Shubrick
  • 6th Lt. David G. Farragut
  • 7th Lt. John Marston
  • Purser, Edward N. Cox
  • Surgeon, William Birchmore
  • Surgeon’s Mate, William Plumstead
  • Surgeon’s Mate, John Brooke
  • Sailing Master, Elisha Peck
  • Captain Marines, Thomas S. English
  • Lieutenant Marines, William A. Randolph

MIDSHIPMEN on the 1825 Voyage returning Lafayette to France on The U.S.S. Brandywine

  • George M. Bache from Philadelphia PA
  • Samuel Barron from Virginia
  • Solomon D. Belton from Georgia
  • Thomas W. Brent from District of Columbia
  • John B. Cutting from District of Columbia
  • John A. Davis from Louisiana
  • Ezra T. Doughty of New York
  • Charles W. Gay from Massachusetts
  • Cary H. Hansford from Virginia
  • Paul H. Haynes from South Carolina
  • Henry Hoff from South Carolina
  • Harry Ingersoll from Philadelphia PA
  • William F. Irving from New York
  • Andrew M. Irwin from Pennsylvania
  • Kinsey Johns from Maryland
  • James L. Lardner from Pennsylvania
  • William F. Lynch from Virginia
  • James W. Marshall from Kentucky
  • M. F. Maury from Virginia
  • Henry Mifflin from Pennsylvania
  • Lewis Ogden from New York
  • William S. Ogden from New York
  • Richard L. Page from Virginia
  • William D. Porter from District of Columbia
  • William Radford from Missouri
  • John W. Willis from Virginia

William Radford was only 16-years-old when he made this 1825 voyage on the U.S.S. Brandywine. It was his first voyage across the Atlantic in a naval career spanning the years 1825 to 1870. His daughter, Sophie Radford de Meissner, used her father’s memories and correspondence to write about this voyage of The U.S.S. Brandywine; quoting from page 28 of her 1920 book “Old Naval Days.”

The midshipmen on The Brandywine were each and all enthusiastic admirers of General Lafayette, while he himself was “deeply gratified”—(we have his secretary’s word for it)—“thus to find himself surrounded by these young representatives of the Republic he had visited with so much pleasure, not only as their presence recalled spots he loved, but also as some of them being sons (or grandsons) of old Revolutionary soldiers, gave him an opportunity of speaking of his former companions-in-arms; and the young men, or their part, proud of the mission they were engaged in, endeavored to render themselves worthy of it by strict attention to study and the performance of their duties.”

The passage was a stormy and most uncomfortable one, notwithstanding which, they made excellent time, sighting the French coast twenty-four days after leaving the Chesapeake.

“The morning after our arrival,” writes Commodore Morris, “the wife and children of George Lafayette, with M. de Lasteyrie, son-in-law of Lafayette, and his children, came on board to meet the General and his son, and after passing a few hours they all returned together to the shore. Before leaving the ship the General was entreated to ask for anything he might desire to take with him, when he requested the flag of the ship under which he had been received on board, and this was immediately presented.”

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About Stephen H. Smith

Stephen H. Smith is a design engineer who worked at York International Corp. for 33 years before retiring several years ago to research and write books full time; his second career. The initial emphasis was on family history when he won a national award during 2002 for his first book “Barshingers in America.” Positive feedback and that award were influential in his decision to retire early from engineering and start a retirement career.

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