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James A. Greer

James A. Greer (28 February 1833 – 17 January 1904) was a rear admiral in the United States Navy who served during the Civil War.

Early years[]

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Greer enlisted in the Navy in 1848. He entered the United States Naval Academy in 1853 and graduated as a Passed Midshipman the following year. After participating in the Paraguay Expedition, he cruised the west African coast until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Civil War[]

Greer was serving on board the USS San Jacinto on 7 November 1861, when she stopped the British steamer Trent and removed the Confederate diplomatic commissioners on their way to Britain, thereby nearly drawing Great Britain into the war on the Confederate side. This incident became celebrated as the Trent Affair.

Greer served on the USS St. Louis from 1862 to 1863, and then was attached to Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter's Mississippi Squadron.

While in command of the ironclads USS Carondelet and USS Benton, he participated in the Vicksburg campaign and the shelling of Grand Gulf as well as the abortive Union Red River expedition.

After commanding the Naval Station at Mound City, Illinois, he assumed command of the USS Blackhawk and was then in charge of conveying Army transports up the Tennessee River.

Post-war service[]

A tour of duty as Assistant to the Commandant at Annapolis after the war was followed by command of USS Mohongo with the Pacific Squadron, where Greer was commended for "defending American interests" in Mexico. After a tour of duty at the Naval Academy between 1869 and 1873, Greer returned to the Pacific Station.

In 1873, he commanded the USS Tigress when that ship was sent to find and aid the ship Polaris. The Polaris was wrecked on an Arctic expedition which had been led by Charles Francis Hall.

After special service in Constitution during the Paris Exposition, Greer held a variety of shore posts and then served as commander of the European Squadron from 1887 to 1889.

Promoted to Rear Admiral in 1892, he retired on 28 February 1895. Admiral Greer died in Washington, D.C.


The destroyer USS Greer (DD-145) was named for him.

Several Tom Clancy novels feature a Vice Admiral James Greer, who is the Director of Central Intelligence.

See also[]


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.