Biography[edit | edit source]
Murphy was born in Westchester County, New York, and was appointed midshipman 10 August 1841. He served during the War with Mexico at Vera Cruz and Tabasco. He resigned as a passed midshipman 10 May 1852 after his last mission as an assistant on John G. Barnard's survey of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. He went into the private sector, working as a first officer on the Collins' line of steamships, a city surveyor for the city of New York, Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and lastly as State Senator for the 4th District (1860–1861).
American Civil War[edit | edit source]
Murphy reentered service at the beginning of the Civil War as a colonel in the engineers, forming the 15th New York Regiment of Engineers, serving in the Army of the Potomac. He was appointed acting lieutenant, USN, 4 December 1862, taking many veterans of his regiment along with fresh volunteers from New York. He took command of gunboat Carondelet 4 March 1863, skippering that ship during the joint Army‑Navy Expedition in Steele's Bayou under Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, 18 to 24 March, in which he landed with two boat howitzers and 300 men near Rolling Fork to hold that place until the Union ships could cover it with their guns. One of his officers was Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Julius H. Kroehl.
He next took Carondelet off Vicksburg, Mississippi engaging batteries at that Confederate fortress many times from 18 May to 3 July, being commended by Admiral Porter for energetic attention to orders and ready cooperation with Army corps commanders assaulting the fortress. Acting Lieutenant Murphy relinquished command of the gunboat 1 September 1863 to serve as a recruiter in New York and resigned his commission 30 July 1864. Attempts to re-enter politic office were unsuccessful.
Personal[edit | edit source]
He was the son of Thomas Murphy and Maria Warner, and the brother of Augustus Howard Murphy and William Jay Murphy, both of whom were Sandy Hook pilots. He married the former Mary Theresa Mooney in 1848, and had six known children: Walter M., Maria B., Mary Theresa, Joseph D., John K., and Mary Elsina. Mary Elsina was the guest of honor who christened the ship named for her father in 1942.
He died in New York City 1 June 1871, and is interred at Calvary Cemetery (Woodside) in New York.
He should not be confused with his nephew, John McLeod Murphy, who served as a New York City fireman and patented the third-rail safety system for electric trolleys.
Namesake[edit | edit source]
USS Murphy (DD-603) was named for him.
References[edit | edit source]
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889.
Death of Col. John McLeod Murphy, New York Times, June 2, 1871.
Died, New York Times, June 4, 1871.