Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LYNCH, William Francis, naval officer, born in Norfolk, Virginia, in April, 1801; died in Baltimore, Maryland, 17 October, 1865. He entered the United States navy as midshipman in 1819, and was promoted lieutenant in 1828. The expedition to explore the course of the Jordan and the Dead sea was planned by him in 1847, and, after receiving the sanction of the government, was carried out by him with success. He sailed for Smyrna in the storeship "Supply," and thence made an overland journey on camels to Constantinople, where he obtained the requisite authority and protection from the Turkish government to pass through Palestine. In March, 1848, he landed in the Bay of Acre, and in April began the work of navigating the Jordan from Lake Tiberias to the Dead sea, performing the journey in two metallic life-boats. By the establishment of a series of levels, the Dead sea was shown to be 1,312 feet below the Mediterranean, corroborating an earlier survey made under the direction of the British navy. Subsequently he planned an exploration of western Africa, but it failed of approval. He was advanced to the rank of commander in 1849, and in 1856 was made captain, which rank he held until 1861, when he resigned to join the Confederate navy. In June, 1861, he received the commisson of flag-officer, and was assigned to the command of the defences of North Carolina. He had charge of the naval force that unsuccessfully resisted Flag-Officer Louis M. Goldsborough's attack on Roanoke island in February, 1862, and he subsequently commanded the remainder of the fleet which was surprised by part of Commander Stephen C. Rowan's forces and driven up Albemarle sound to Elizabeth City. Later he commanded Smithville during Admiral David D. Porter's attack on Fort Fisher, and after its surrender he dismantled the Smithville defences and retired with his marines to Wilmington. He published "Narrative of the United States Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea" (Philadelphia, 1849), and " Naval Life, or Observations Afloat and on Shore" (New York. 1851).
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