December 31: Henry Lycurgus Howison (1914)

Henry L. Howison was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. He was born in Washington, Indiana, on October 10, 1837. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in June 1858. During the next three years he served on the steam frigate Wabash, gunboat Pocohontas and sloop Pawnee. From September 1861 to May 1864, Lieutenant Howison was Executive Officer of three South Atlantic Blockading Squadron ships: the cruiser Augusta and the monitors Nantucket and Catskill, all of which were engaged in wartime operations off Charleston, South Carolina. He then spent nearly a year in the Gulf of Mexico with the cruiser Bienville, acting as her Commanding Officer during some of this time. Following promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in March 1865, Howison was assigned to ordnance inspection duty at the Washington Navy Yard, D.C. It was during this time that Howison married Hannah Johnson Middleton at the Church of the Epiphany. Hannah’s family had been closely connected with the church since at least the 1850s.

In August 1866, Howison returned to sea as Navigator (and later Executive Officer) of the steam sloop Pensacola, flagship on the Pacific Station. During 1868-1872 he served again at the Washington Navy Yard and at the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1873 Commander Howison commanded the gunboat Shawmut. Further duty followed at the Naval Academy and in Washington, D.C., broken by a brief assignment as Commanding Officer of the gunnery training ship Minnesota. Promoted to Captain in 1885, he continued his service in the Nation’s Capital until taking command of USS Vandalia in February 1886. In June 1888 Captain Howison became President of the Steel Inspecting Board and two years later was transferred to the Lighthouse Board. He was Commandant of the Navy Yard at Mare Island, California, and in July 1896 became the first Commanding Officer of the new battleship Oregon, which at that time was the Navy’s most important west coast warship. Commodore Howison was Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard until 1899 and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1898. Following several months as the commander of the South Atlantic Station, in October 1899 he reached the legally-mandated retirement age of 62 and left active duty. Rear Admiral Henry L. Howison died in Yonkers, New York, on December 31, 1914.

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