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 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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BALCH, George B., naval officer, born in Tennessee, 3 January 1821. He became a midshipman, by appointment from Alabama, 30 December 1837, and was assigned to the sloop "Cyane," of the Pacific squadron. He was promoted to passed midshipman, 29 June 1843, and remained on special duty until the war with Mexico, when he was assigned to active duty, and engaged in the first attack on Alvarado by Com. Connor, 1 November 1846. Throughout this war he was with the naval squadron, serving at the successful attack upon Vera Cruz and in the "mosquito fleet" under Com. Tatnal1. In 1849-'50 he was at the naval observatory, Washington, and was promoted lieutenant, 16 August 1850. While with the sloop "Plymouth," in the Pacific squadron, he was wounded during a fight between Chinese imperialists and rebels, and from this date until the outbreak of the civil war he was on duty with the various home and foreign squadrons. In 1860, while in command of the frigate "Sabine," he fell in with the United States transport "Governor" in a sinking condition, and rescued nearly 400 marines under Lieut.-Colonel Reynolds, the transport sinking just after the transfer was made. In 1861-'2 he was in command of the "Pocahontas," in the south Atlantic squadron, and volunteered to command boats taking possession of Tybee island. Commissioned as commander, 16 July 1862, he was actively engaged along the South Atlantic coast, and effectively cooperated with the land forces on various occasions, especially on 16 July 1862, when, in command of the " Pawnee," he repelled an attack by two batteries of artillery. In this affair the "Pawnee "was struck forty-six times. While in command of this vessel, Commander Balch captured two confederate guns, and was engaged in the combined operations of the navy under Rear Admiral Dahlgren mid the army under General Foster in Stone river, and on 9 February 1865, with two other vessels ascended Togoda creek, South Carolina, and silenced three batteries. On 25 July 1866, he was promoted captain. He was with the North Atlantic squadron in 1868-'9, and on shore duty at Washington until 1872. He became commodore 13 August 1872, rear admiral 5 June 1878, and was superintendent of the naval academy until 1880, when he went on his last cruise, terminating in January 1883, and was placed on the retired list, having attained the limit of age for active service.
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