July 22: William Nicholson Jeffers (1883)

William Nicholson Jeffers was a 19th Century U.S. Naval officer. He took part in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. During the 1870’s and the early 1880’s, Jeffers served as Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance. Jeffers biggest contribution to the U.S. Navy was his work in naval ordnance throughout his career. He wrote numerous books on the subject. A native of New Jersey, Jeffers’ eagerness for sea service was inspired by his maternal uncles, who were naval officers. After serving as a midshipman for five years, Jeffers studied at the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating fourth in a class of forty-seven. His special studies in ordnance were perhaps responsible for his transfer to the command of the Monitor, just after her engagement with the Merrimac during the Civil War.

In 1878, Jeffers’ wife, Lucy LeGrand Jeffers, was confirmed at Epiphany. Jeffers was popular and uniformly courteous. He had a firm spirit, illustrated by his refusal to admit the suffering of his last illness. Following his death, Jeffers’ funeral was at Epiphany before his interment at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. A World War II-era destroyer, the USS Jeffers, was named in his honor.

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