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Garrett Jesse Pendergrast (5 December 1802 – 7 November 1862) was an officer in the United States Navy during the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

A native of Kentucky, Pendergrast was married to Virginia Barron, the daughter of James Barron. Upon the Secession, she reportedly refused to accompany her husband in his allegiance to the United States and swore she would never live with him again.

His nephew was Lieutenant Commander Austin Pendergrast, who during the Civil War took command of USS Congress when she was sunk by CSS Virginia.

By 1832, Pendergrast had been promoted to Lieutenant. He commanded Boston during the Mexican-American War in 1846. In 1856, he commissioned Merrimack, the ship that would later become the Virginia.

Subsequently, he held command of both the Home Squadron and the West India Squadron.

Civil War[]

At the outbreak of war in 1861, Flag Officer Pendergrast was in command of the sloop USS Cumberland. At age 58, he was one of the oldest officers in service.

The first significant victory for the U.S. Navy during the early phases of the Union blockade occurred on April 24, 1861, when Pendergrast and the Cumberland, accompanied by a small flotilla of support ships, began seizing Confederate ships and privateers in the vicinity of Fort Monroe off the Virginia coastline. Within the next two weeks, Pendergrast had captured 16 enemy vessels, serving early notice to the Confederate War Department that the blockade would be effective if extended.[1]

Promoted to Commodore on July 16, 1862, Pendergrast was assigned to command the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and held that position when he died of a paralytic stroke on November 7, 1862. He is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery.

See also[]


  • Photo of Pendergrast
  • Time-Life Books, The Civil War. The Blockade: Raiders and Runners. Time-Life Books, 1983.


  1. Time-Life, page 24.