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Samuel Phillips Lee (13 February 1812 – 7 June 1897) was a Rear Admiral of the United States Navy. He commanded the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron from 4 September 1862 to 12 October 1864. His flagship was Philadelphia.
Life and career[edit | edit source]
Lee was born at "Sully" in Fairfax County, Virginia to Francis Lightfoot Lee II and Jane Fitzgerald. He was the grandson of Richard Henry Lee, great-nephew of Francis Lightfoot Lee I, brother-in-law of Francis Preston Blair, Jr., and of Montgomery Blair, and was third cousin of Robert E. Lee. He was appointed a Midshipman in the U.S. Navy in November 1825 and subsequently saw extensive service at sea, including combat action during the Mexican-American War and exploration, surveying and oceanographic duty. At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, he held the rank of commander and was captain of the sloop of war USS Vandalia in the East Indies, sailing her home on his own initiative to join the blockade of the Southern coast. Commander Lee commanded the new steam sloop USS Oneida during the New Orleans campaign and subsequent operations on the Mississippi River in the first half of 1862.
In September 1862, Lee was placed in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron with the rank of Acting Rear Admiral. His flagship at this point was the USS Philadelphia. He led this force for over two years, during which it was responsible for the blockade of the North Carolina coast and operations on North Carolina and Virginia inland waters, all areas of very active combat between Union and Confederate forces. Acting Rear Admiral Lee transferred to the command of the Mississippi River Squadron in October 1864 and led it to the end of the Civil War in 1865. His flagship during his time as commander of the Mississippi River Squadron was the USS Black Hawk.
Reverting to his permanent rank of Captain after the Civil War, Lee extensively served in the Washington, D.C. area. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1870 and retired from active service in February 1873.
Residence[edit | edit source]
In 1859, Lee's father-in-law, Francis Preston Blair, built a house for Lee and his wife (Francis's daughter Elizabeth Blair) next door to his own. These two houses, within a block of the White House in Washington, D.C., were later combined into one house and became the property of the U.S. government. Today they are the Blair-Lee House, used by the President as his guest house. Upon retirement he moved to the family home in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he died on 7 June 1897.
In memoriam[edit | edit source]
Two U.S. Navy ships have been named in honor of Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, including: USS S. P. Lee (DD-310), which was commissioned in October 1920 and lost by stranding in September 1923, and USS S. P. Lee (AG-192) (ex-AGS-31), which was in naval service between 1968 and 1974.