About George Campbell Read
George Campbell Read (January 9, 1788 – August 22, 1862) was a United States Naval Officer who served on Old Ironsides during the War of 1812 and commanded vessels in actions off the Barbary Coast and India. Read eventually rose to the rank of rear admiral.
George Campbell Read was born in Glastonbury, Connecticut. At the age of 16, Read entered the United States Navy as a midshipman. Read first joined the crew of the USS Constitution (aka Old Ironsides) in 1806 under the command of his uncle, Captain Hugh G. Campbell. Early in his service, because of his relationship with the captain, Read was suspected of being an informant concerning a fight between two lieutenants: Melancthon Taylor Woolsey and William Burrows. For a long time, Woolsey and the other officers shunned Read who endured the treatment without complaint. When it was eventually learned that it was the captain's clerk and not Read who had informed, Woolsey apologized to Read and asked why he remained silent about the real informant. Read replied, "That would have been doing the very thing for which you blamed me, Mr. Woolsey -- turning informer." Thereafter, Woolsey referred to this incident as an example of Read's great self-restraint and self-respect.
In 1810, after six years of service, Read was promoted to Lieutenant, and he served aboard the USS Constitution under Commodore Isaac Hull during the War of 1812. When the Constitution defeated the British warship HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812, Read was detailed by Hull to board the English vessel and accept her surrender. Two months later, on October 25, Read was serving under Commodore Stephen Decatur aboard the USS United States when they defeated the British warship HMS Macedonian. As a lieutenant, Read commanded the brig USS Chippewa during the Algerian War of 1815. He was promoted to Commander in 1816, and served in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Africa. After a promotion to captain in 1825, Read took command of the USS Constitution. From 1838 to 1839 he took part in retaliatory actions against the pirates and raiders who preyed on American shipping in India. Read commanded the Second Sumatran Expedition which was undertaken in response to the massacre of the merchant ship Eclipse.
From 1839 to 1846, Read commanded the Philadelphia Naval School. As commander there, he served on a Naval board with Commodores Thomas ap Catesby Jones, Matthew C. Perry, and Captains Elie A. F. La Vallette and Isaac Mayo for the examination of midshipmen entitled to promotion. Read next commanded the African Squadron 1846-47 and the Mediterranean Squadron 1847-49. When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Read was again in charge of the Philadelphia Naval Asylum. Read was promoted to rear admiral in July 1862. He died one month later, on August 22, after 58 years of Naval service. He is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of Captain Richard Dale, died on March 1, 1863 and was buried beside him.
USS Commodore Read
The naval patrol ship USS Commodore Read was named in honor of Read. Formerly a ferryboat, it was purchased by the Navy on 19 August 1863, refitted at New York Navy Yard and commissioned on 8 September 1863. The ship served with the Potomac Flotilla during the American Civil War until 20 July 1865.