Rear Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee

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Charles Dwight Sigsbee, I

Birthplace: Albany, Albany, New York, United States
Death: Died in New York, New York, United States
Place of Burial: Arlington, Arlington, VA, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Nicholas Sigsbee, III and Agnes Sigsbee
Husband of Eliza Rogers Sigsbee
Father of Charles Dwight Sigsbee, II

Occupation: Rear Admiral in US Navy, pioneering oceanographer and hydrographer
Managed by: Tobias Rachor (C)
Last Updated:

About Rear Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee

United States Navy Admiral. He is best remembered for being the Captain of the USS Maine when it exploded in Havana Harbor on the evening of February 12, 1898, an act which triggered the Spanish-American War. The ship was totally destroyed and a total of 260 officers and men were killed. He was also well-known throughout the Navy as the officer who commanded the ship (USS Brooklyn) which returned the remains of John Paul Jones from their burial place in France to their present location at the US Navy Academy. He retired from the Navy in 1907. He was the author of a number of naval text books.

Charles Dwight Sigsbee (January 16, 1845 - July 13, 1923) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. In his earlier career he was a pioneering oceanographer and hydrographer. He is best remembered as the captain of the USS Maine, which exploded in Havana harbor, Cuba, in 1898. The explosion set off the events that led up to the start of the Spanish American War.


Sigsbee was born in Albany, New York, and educated at The Albany Academy. He was appointed acting midshipman on 16 July 1862.

Sigsbee fought in numerous engagements during the Civil War, mostly against Confederate forts and batteries. Sigsbee served aboard the Monongahela, Wyoming, and Shenandoah from 1863 to 1869, when he was assigned to duty at the Naval Academy.

In 1871, he was assigned to the Hydrographic Office. He was first posted to the Hydrographic Office in 1873. He was assigned to the Coast Survey in 1874 and commanded the Coast Survey steamer Blake 1875-1878. He returned to the Navy Hydrographic Office from 1878–1882 and served as Hydrographer in the Bureau of Navigation from 1893 to 1897. During his period on the Blake he developed the Sigsbee sounding machine which became a standard item of deep-water oceanographc equipment for the next 50 years.

Sigsbee served at the United States Naval Academy 1869-71, 1882–85, and 1887–90. He commanded the Kearsarge on the European station 1885-6 and the training ship Portsmouth 1891-92.

A telegram from Sigsbee to Secretary of the Navy John Davis Long on the destruction of the USS Maine Sigsbee took command of the battleship Maine in April 1897. After the Maine was destroyed in February 1898, Sigsbee and his officers were exonerated by a court of inquiry. Subsequently he commanded the St. Paul in 1898 at the Second Battle of San Juan and Texas until 1900.

In February of that year he was appointed Chief Intelligence Officer of the Office of Naval Intelligence, succeeding Cmdr. Richardson Clover; he held this post until April 1903 when he was succeeded by Cmdr. Seaton Schroeder. He was promoted to Rear Admiral on 10 August 1903.

He assumed command of the South Atlantic Squadron in 1904, and the Second Division, North Atlantic Squadron in 1905.

Rear Admiral Sigsbee commanded the USS Brooklyn as his flagship on June 7, 1905, when she sailed for Cherbourg, France. There, the remains of the late John Paul Jones were taken aboard and brought back home for his interment at the United States Naval Academy.

Admiral Sigsbee retired from the Navy in 1907 and died in New York. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His grandson, Charles Dwight Sigsbee III, First Lieutenant, United States Army, was buried next to him on July 10, 1956.


The destroyer USS Sigsbee (DD-502) was named for him.

Sigsbee Park, the primary military family housing area for Naval Air Station Key West, and the collocated Sigsbee Elementary School are named in his honor.

Sigsbee Deep, the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico was discovered by ships under his command and it was named in his honor.

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Rear Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee's Timeline

January 16, 1845
Albany, Albany, New York, United States
December 19, 1889
Age 44
Annapolis, Anne Arundel, MD, USA
July 19, 1923
Age 78
New York, New York, United States
Arlington, Arlington, VA, USA