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George Musalas "Colvos" Colvocoresses (October 22, 1816 – June 3, 1872) was a United States Navy officer who commanded the USS Saratoga during the American Civil War. From 1838 up until 1842, he served in the United States Exploring Expedition, better known as the Wilkes Expedition, which explored large regions of the Pacific Ocean. Three separate geographical features, two on the west coast of the US and another in Antarctica, were named for Colvocoresses.

Early life and education[]

Born on the island of Chios in the Grecian Archipelago on October 22, 1816, during the Greek War of Independence as a member of a prominent Greek family, he was kidnapped along with his mother and two sisters and ransomed from the Turks after the massacre of the Greek population of the island in 1822. His family's fortunes were devastated by the massacre. Most close relatives, including six brothers, were killed. He was enslaved at 6 years of age, but his father managed to buy back his freedom.

By 1824, Colvocoresses was sent to Baltimore, Maryland in United States by his father. [1] He became the adopted son of Captain Alden Partridge, the founder of the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy (later Norwich University) in Norwich, Vermont. Colvocoresses entered the Navy after graduating from Norwich in 1831. Several generations of his family, including his son, great-grandson, and great-great-granddaughter, have also graduated from Norwich and followed military careers.

Naval career[]

In 1832, he was appointed a midshipman, and in 1836-1837 attached to the frigate USS United States on the Mediterranean squadron. From 1838 up until 1842, he served in the United States Exploring Expedition, better known as the Wilkes Expedition of the Pacific Ocean. Captain Colvocoresses later authored a work on the Wilkes Expedition, entitled Four Years in a Government Exploring Expedition (New York, 1855).

On January 29, 1862, the vessel USS Supply, under his command, captured the Confederate schooner Stephen Hart off the south coast of Florida, carrying assorted cargo. In early August 1864 with 115 men in 7 boats from his sloop USS Saratoga, he conducted an expedition to gather intelligence and capture enemy prisoners. Two week later, at South Newport, Georgia, Colvocoresses led 130 men in boats, capturing a lieutenant and 38 privates of the Third South Carolina Cavalry, six overseers of saltworks he had destroyed, and 71 slaves. He was mysteriously murdered in Bridgeport, Connecticut on June 3, 1872 while on his way to New York.

Colvocoresses' legacy[]

The Captain married twice. From his first union, with Adeline Maria Swasey, he had four children, including Frank E. and George P. His second marriage was with Eliza T. Halsey.

  • His son, Adm. George Partridge Colvocoresses, (NU Class 1866), named for his father's benefactor, also led a distinguished military career, rising to the rank of Admiral in the US Navy. Served under then-Commodore George Dewey (NU 1855) in the Asiatic Fleet, and distinguished himself in service during the Spanish-American War. His name appears on the Centennial Staircase at Norwich.
  • Col. Alden Partridge Colvocoresses, USA (Ret.), and great-grandson of George M. Colvocoresses, received the Purple Heart as well as two Silver Stars with Oak Leaf Clusters, the second awarded under the command of Major General Ernest N. Harmon. After leaving the Army, Alden was a pioneer in satellite mapping techniques, including the Space Oblique Mercator projection that maps images from Landsat satellites, which he used to develop the first satellite map of the United States.
  • Colvocoresses' great-great-granddaughter, Gretchen Herrboldt Hahn, graduated from Norwich University in 2005. Gretchen received her commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army on May 8, her great-great Uncle, Col. Alden Partridge Colvocoresses, USA (Ret.) gave her the commissioning oath. Alden is the great-grandson of George M. Colvocoresses and a key link in a military family whose roots are entwined deep in the Norwich tradition.[2]


  • Colvos Passage, a tidal strait in Puget Sound, was named in honor of Colvocoresses.

See also[]


  • Chryssis, George C., "A Concise History of the Hellenic Presence in America from 1528 to Present." Hellenic News of America, Inc. As retrieved on 2 June 2006 09:37:01 GMT. [3]
  • Dwyer, John B., "Observations from the Edge of the World," Naval History (Annapolis, June 2008), 52-57

External links[]