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H. Erben

H. Erben

Federal (USN)

Lieutenant Commander

Henry Erben

(1832 - 1909)

Home State: New York

Command Billet: none

Branch of Service: Navy

Unit: Army of the Potomac

Before Antietam

Service Summary:
Entered Navy as Midshipman 17 Jun 1848 (not yet 16 years old).
Lieutenant 27 Dec 1856.
Lt. Commander 16 Jul 1862.
Commander 6 May 1868.
Captain 1 Nov 1879.
Commodore 3 Apr 1892.
Rear Admiral 31 Jul 1894.
Retired 6 Sep 1894.
Additional service during the Spanish-American War (1898).

At the outbreak of war he was a Lieutenant aboard USS Supply, at Pensacola, Florida and was there when the Navy Yard was seized by State Confederate forces in January 1861. He reported aboard USS Powhatan in April. He was ordered to the Mississippi flotilla 5 Sept 1861. He commanded ironclads USS St. Louis (Apr-Jun 62), USS Sumter (6 Jun to July 62), USS Tunxis (Jul-Sep 64), and USS Pinola (?-65) during the Civil War.

His last command before the Maryland Campaign, USS Sumter, a captured Confederate armored gunboat, was severely damaged by cannon fire from Vicksburg on the Mississippi on 15 July 1862, and was later (date?) lost/captured. At least as late as August 10th he was still on duty on the Mississippi.

On the Campaign

There is information that he was present "on the Maryland Campaign and at Fredericksburg with the Naval Howitzer battery". Perhaps as an observer. The only Federal battery known to be equipped with Naval Howizers at Antietam was Whitings (9th NY) Battery in the IX Corps.

More research is needed to confirm his role at the battle.

The rest of the War

In New York City, probably during October 1862, there was a formal investigation of the loss of USS Sumter while under Erben's command. Charges were dismissed. In January 1865 he was in command of USS Pinola on Gulf Coast blockade duty.

After the War

By 1893 he was one of the 11 Commodores in the Navy, and in command of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He retired as a Rear Admiral and Commander, European Squadron, in 1894.

In 1943 the Navy named a new Fletcher Class Destroyer after him - USS Erben (DD-631).

References & notes

Sources: Register of the Commissioned, Warrant, and Volunteer Officers of the Navy of the United States, Including Officers of the Marine Corps and Others, to January 1, 1865., Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1865; and
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion., Various volumes, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1905 His picture from one in Hamersly's The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps (1902). His gravesite is on Findagrave.


9/5/1832; New York City, NY


10/23/1909; New York City, NY; burial in Trinity Church Cemetery, New York, NY