A Civil War Biography

Duncan Nathaniel Ingraham

Ingraham was born 6 December 1802 in Charleston, South Carolina. He entered the US navy as a midshipman on 18 June 1812 and served during the War of 1812. He was promoted to lieutenant on 1 April 1818 and commander on 24 May 1838. He saw action during the war with Mexico. In 1853, by then a commander and the commanding officer of the sloop USS St. Louis attached to the Mediterranean squadron, Ingraham became aware of the Austrian consul's detention of Martin Koszata, a Hungarian who had lived in New York for two years and declared his intention of becoming an American citizen. On 21 June 1853 Koszta, who was in Smyrna, Turkey on business, was seized and confined on the Austrian ship Hussar. On 2 July 1853 at 8am, Ingraham demanded the release of Koszta within 8 hours or he planned to attack. Even though the St. Louis was much smaller and out gunned by the Hussar, the Austrian consul agreed to release Koszta into the custody of the French consul. The French held the Hungarian until the US and Austrian consuls agreed to his disposition and he was released. For his conduct in the matter Ingraham, by a 4 August 1854 joint resolution of the US Congress was given the Thanks of Congress. Also by the resolution the President was authorized to give Ingraham a gold medal. Ingraham was promoted to captain on 14 September 1855. In March 1856 he was appointed Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography. He served in this position until 1860 when he took command of the flag ship USS Richmond assigned to the Mediterranean.

When Ingraham learned that South Carolina had left the Union he resigned from the US navy on 4 February 1861 and offered his services to the Confederacy. He was appointed captain in the Confederate navy on 26 March 1861 and after sitting on a board studying the problems of building a navy from scratch was assigned as commandant of the Warrington Navy Yard in Pensacola, Florida. On 16 November 1861 he was assigned to command the naval station at Charleston. While in Charleston Ingraham supervised the construction of the ironclad ram Palmetto State. On 30 January 1863 Ingraham commanded the Palmetto State which, along with the Chicora, another ironclad, attacked the Union blockaders. When the blockaders withdrew on 1 February 1863, the Confederacy claimed the blockade of Charleston was lifted. The lifting of the blockade was only temporary, however. In March 1863 Ingraham was relieved of his sea command due to his age but he remained in charge of the shore installations until Charleston fell to Union forces in 1865.

Ingraham remained in Charleston after the war and died there on 16 October 1891.

Since 25 March 1776 when the Continental Congress authorized a gold medal be given to George Washington, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. The resolution authorized Ingraham to receive a CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL read:

A Joint Resolution directing the Presentation of a Medal to Commander Duncan N. Ingraham.

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, requested to cause to be made a medal, with suitable devices, and presented to Commander Duncan N. Ingraham, of the navy of the United States, as a testimonial of the high sense entertained by Congress of his gallant and judicious conduct on the second of July, eighteen hundred and fifty-three, in extending protection to Martin Koszta, by rescuing him from illegal seizure and imprisonment on board the Austrian war-brig Hussar.

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