Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CHAUNCEY, Isaac, naval officer, born in Black Rock, Connecticut, 29 February, 1772; died in Washington, District of Columbia, 27 January, 1840. Entering the merchant service very young, he commanded a ship at nineteen, and made several successful voyages to the East Indies in the ships of John Jacob Astor. On the organization of the navy he was made a lieutenant, 17 September, 1798, and was acting captain of the frigate "Chesapeake" early in 1802. He distinguished himself in several actions off Tripoli, was thanked by congress for his services, and voted a sword, which he never received. He became master, 23 May, 1804, and captain, 24 April, 1806. At the beginning of the war of 1812, Capt. Chauncey, then in command of the navy-yard at New York, was appointed to command on all the lakes except Champlain, and entered on his duties at Sackett's Harbor on 6 October From that time till the close of the war vessels were built and equipped with unequalled rapidity. The "Mohawk," a 42-gun frigate, was launched in thirty-four days after her keel was laid, and the corvette "Madison" was launched in nine weeks from the day when the first tree composing her frame was cut in the forest. Chauncey co-operated with the land forces under Pike in April, 1813, in capturing York (now Toronto), and, on 27 May, in the capture of Fort George, which caused the evacuation of the entire Niagara frontier, and in the same year superintended the building of ships at Sackett's Harbor. On 27 September, Chauncey attacked and put to flight, in York bay, the British fleet under Sir James Yeo, whom he had hitherto been unable to bring to action. The "Pike," his flag-ship, was on this occasion manoeuvred and fought in a manner ever since a theme of admiration in the navy. Before the whole American squadron could get into action, the enemy bore up, Chauncey following. A heavy gale stopped the chase, and prevented the destruction of the British fleet. On 5 October. Chauncey captured five vessels, with part of a regiment of soldiers. In August and September, 1814, he blockaded Sir James Yeo's fleet for six weeks. He afterward commanded the Brooklyn navy-yard and the Mediterranean squadron, and with William Shaler, consul, negotiated a treaty with Algiers. He served on the board of navv commissioners at Washington, and became its president in June, 1833, holding the office till his death. He was a model of gallantry, energy, and skill. His remains were buried in the congressional cemetery at Washington, where a marble monument has been erected to his memory.--His son, John S., naval officer, was born in New York about 1800; died in Brooklyn, New York, 10 April, 1871. He entered the service as midshipman, 1 January, 1812, became passed midshipman in 1821, and in 1822, while on the sloop" Peacock," was engaged in the capture of eight pirate schoonels, one of them heavily armed, off Bahia Honda, Cuba. He was ordered to command one of the prizes. Having been appointed acting lieutenant in 1823, he was assigned to the "Ontario," of the Mediterranean squadron, in 1824, and received his commission as lieutenant, 13 January, 1825. He became commander, 8 September, 1841, and was inspector of ordnance at Washington from 1847 till 1850. He was promoted to captain, 14 September, 1855, assigned to the "Susquehanna" in 1861, and engaged at Forts Hatteras and Clark. He commanded the blockade of the sounds of Virginia and North Carolina in September, 1861, became commodore, 16 July, 1862, and was on special service for the rest of the war. He was retired from active service on 4 April, 1869.
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