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Lt. Joseph B. Smith, USN

Joseph B. Smith (1826 – 8 March 1862) was an officer in the United States Navy who was killed in action during the American Civil War.


Born in Belfast, Maine, Smith was appointed midshipman on 19 October 1841. After graduating with the Class of 1847, he served at the Washington Navy Yard, in Mississippi and with the U.S. Coast Survey. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1855, and soon afterwards was assigned to the steam frigate Merrimack, his station until 1857. Smith next had ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard, D.C.

In 1860, he was ordered to frigate, Congress as her Executive Officer. He was in command of Congress on 8 March 1862, when she was attacked and destroyed by the Confederate ironclad, Virginia, and lost his life in the action. When his father, Commodore Joseph Smith, heard of the surrender of Congress, he said, “Then Joe is dead,” feeling that she never would have surrendered while his son lived.


Two ships have been named, USS Smith, for him.

See also[]

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