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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 biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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William Barker Cushing

CUSHING, William Barker, naval officer, born in Wisconsin, 24 November 1842; died in Washington, D. C., 17 December 1874. He was appointed to the naval academy from New York in 1857, but resigned on 23 March 1861. In May 1861, he volunteered, was appointed master's mate, and on the day of his arrival at Hampton Roads captured and brought into port a tobacco-schooner, the first prize of the war. He was attached to the north Atlantic blockading squadron during the war, and repeatedly distinguished himself by acts of bravery. He was commissioned lieutenant on 16 July 1862. In November 1862, he was ordered in the steamer "Ellis" to capture Jacksonville, Fla., intercept the Wilmington mail, and destroy the salt-works at New Juliet. He captured a large mail, took two prizes, and shelled a Confederate camp, but was unable to cross the bar that night, and in the morning ran aground. The crew transferred everything except the pivot-gun to one of the captured schooners, and sailed to a place of safety, mile and a half away; but Cushing remained with six volmlteers on board the steamer until she was disabled by a cross-fire from the shore, when he set her on fire and made his escape to the schooner in a row-boat. He distinguished himself the same year on the Blackwater and in the sounds of North Carolina. In 1863 he added to his reputation for braveryand judgment by an expedition up the Cape Fear and Little rivers and operations on the Nansemond. His most brilliant exploit was the destruction of the Confederate ironclad ram "Albe-marle" on the night of 27 October 1864. This powerful vessel had suc-eessfully encountered a strong fleet of U. S. gunboats, and fought them for several hours without sustaining material damage. There was nothing able to cope with her in the sounds. Cushing volunteered to destroy her, and with a steam launch and a volunteer crew he ascended Roanoke River, towing an armed cutter. The River was lined with pickets to guard against just such an attack as this; but Cushing's luck did not desert him, and he was within a few York, in 1841, Nancy Sykes, Lady Gay Spanker, and other characters, constantly added to her professional reputation, and made warm friends in the intellectual society of England. In August 1849, she returned to the United States and played throughout the country. She took her farewell at the Broadway theatre, 15 May 1852, visited friends in England, and traveled on the continent, but began playing again in December 1853. Her house in Mayfair became a centre of artistic and literary society, and during the dramatic season she acted with undiminished popularity in London and the provinces, while part of her winters she passed in Rome. In 1857 she returned to the United States and performed during the winter and the spring of 1858, and returned to Rome, establishing herself in a spacious permanent winter home in January 1859. In 1860 she again acted in New York, and appeared on several occasions for the benefit of the Sanitary commission. During the last six years of her life Miss Cushman developed a remarkable ability as a dramatic reader, giving scenes from Shakespeare, ballad poetry, dialect poems, and humorous pieces with a success not less decided than her early histrionic triumphs. In 1871, after a residence in Europe, she resumed her career in the United States as a reader, besides fulfilling several dramatic engagements. Her farewell appearance was announced at least seven times in as many different years. Her final performance in New York at Booth's theatre, where she played the part of Lady Macbeth, was signalized by social and literary demonstrations. She took a similar demonstrative farewell in the same character in Philadelphia and other cities, and her career closed in Boston, at the Globe theatre, on 15 May 1875. After a reading-tour to Rochester, Buffalo, and Syracuse, she retired with a large fortune to her villa at Newport, where she was seized with her final illness, and in October went to Boston and placed herself under medical treatment. An obelisk copied from Cleopatra's Needle was placed over her tomb in Mount Auburn cemetery in 1880. See "Charlotte Cushman, her Letters and Memories of her Life," edited by Emma Stebbins, the sculptor, who was her intimate friend and companion at Rome for several years (Boston, 1878).--tter sister, Susan Webb, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 17 March 1822; died in Liverpool, England, 10 May 1859, made her debut on the stage in April 1837, at the Park theatre, New York City, as Laura Castelli in Epes Sat'gent's play, "The Genoese," and achieved an immediate success. She played Desdemona to George Vandenhoff's Othello, Grace Itarkaway to her sister's Lady Gay Spanker, and other prominent parts in New York and Philadelphia, and made a remarkable success in "Satan in Paris." In England her impersonation of Ophelia was regarded as of the first rank, her Juliet ran 200 nights, and in her old and many new characters her acting was greatly admired for its grace and delicacy. In 1847 she retired from the stage, and in March 1848, married Dr. James Sheridan Muspratt, of Liverpool, the distinguished chemist and author.

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