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  • 7/31/2004

George W. Melville, Rear Admiral

(10 January 1841_18 March 1912)

George Wallace Melville was born inNew York City on10 January 1841. A graduate of Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute, he worked in the engineering field until July 1861, when he joined the Navy in the rank of Third Assistant Engineer. His first year afloat was spent on theGreat Lakes' gunboatMichigan, during which time he was promoted to Second Assistant Engineer. Melville served in the sloops of warDacotah andWachusett from mid-1862 until late in 1864, taking part in the capture of CSSFlorida in October 1864. He finished the Civil War in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area working with torpedo boats and as an engineer on the gunboatMaumee.

In the years after the Civil War's conclusion, First Assistant Engineer Melville served aboard several ships, among them the experimental cruiserChattanooga, gunboatTacony, steam sloopLancaster and Asiatic Squadron flagshipTennessee. In 1873 he was Chief Engineer of the steamerTigress during an Arctic cruise searching for survivors of the exploration shipPolaris. He returned to the Arctic in 1879 as Chief Engineer of the steamerJeannette and assumed leadership of the survivors of theill-fated expedition after they landed in Siberia in 1881.

Melville was promoted to the rank of Chief Engineer during his time in the Jeannette and again went to theArctic in USSThetis in 1884. He was an Inspector of Coal in 1884-1886, and then performed his final seagoing duty in the new cruiserAtlanta. In August 1887 Melville became Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, with the relative rank of Commodore and, after 1899, Rear Admiral. During more than a decade and a half in that post, he was responsible for the Navy's propulsion systems during an era of remarkable force expansion, technological progress and institutional change. Leaving active duty in 1903, Rear Admiral Melville spent his last years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he died on18 March 1912.

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