William Reynolds, Rear Admiral

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William Reynolds, Rear Admiral

Birthdate: (64)
Death: 1879 (64)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Reynolds and Lydia Reynolds
Brother of Major Samuel Moore Reynolds; John Fulton, Maj. General (USA); General James L. Reynolds, Esq, Quartermaster General of PA; Catherine Ferree Landis and Eleanor Reynolds

Managed by: Private User
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About William Reynolds, Rear Admiral


William Reynolds (December 10, 1815 – November 5, 1879) was a rear admiral in the United States Navy who served during the American Civil War. His younger brother (by five years) was United States Army general John F. Reynolds.


Reynolds was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and joined the Navy in 1831. His first assignment was to the Boxer, where he toured Africa, Brazil, and the Malay archipelago. In 1837, he was promoted to passed midshipman and then to lieutenant in 1841. From 1838 to 1842, he served with the U.S. Exploring Expedition, and was among the first to sight the Antarctic mainland.


In 1842, he was assigned to the Cumberland.

In 1862, he was promoted to commander and given his first ship, the Vermont, a receiving ship at Port Royal, South Carolina. (When that ship was replaced by the New Hampshire, he was transferred to command it.) He was subsequently given command of the depot there.

In 1865, Reynolds was promoted to captain and given command of the screw sloop Lackawanna. After the American Civil War, he was assigned to the Pacific. In 1867, he was the officer to formally claim the Midway Atoll for the United States, after its discovery by a sealing ship in 1859. In 1870, he was made a commodore and was made the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment. In 1873, he was promoted to rear admiral and given command of the Asiatic Squadron from his flagship, the steam frigate Tennessee. Reynolds served as the acting Secretary of the United States Navy in 1874.

His last foreign tour included an official visit to China. Reynolds' wife, Rebecca Krug Reynolds, became the first American woman to walk on the Great Wall of China.

In 1877, due to failing health, he retired from active service. Reynolds died in Washington, D.C. on November 5, 1879, and is buried next to his younger brother, John F. Reynolds, in the cemetery in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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William Reynolds, Rear Admiral's Timeline

Age 64