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William Longshaw, Jr. (26 April 1839 – 15 January 1865) was a physician who served in the United States Navy during the American Civil War.


Longshaw was born near Richmond, Virginia 26 April 1839. He studied pharmacology at Tulane University (then named the University of Louisiana) and received a medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1859. He entered the Navy as an assistant surgeon 25 April 1862.

While serving in the screw steamer Lehigh, Longshaw showed outstanding courage in an engagement with Confederate batteries on Sullivan's Island, Charleston, S.C., 16 November 1863. After the ship had grounded while shelling Confederate forts at Cummings Point, a hawser had to be passed to steamer Nahant, which was standing by. Dr. Longshaw, in an open boat, carried a line for the first two hawsers across to Nahant. Confederate fire was so intense that both hawsers were shot away. Lehigh was eventually refloated when Nahant pulled her free with a third hawser. Longshaw’s gallantry in this action was praised by Rear Adm. John A. Dahlgren and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles.

Dr. Longshaw was killed in the assault on Fort Fisher, 15 January 1865, while binding up the wounds of a dying marine. Though he had received a leave of absence that same day, he voluntarily postponed his departure to serve during the assault.


In 1943, the destroyer USS Longshaw (DD-559) was named in his honor.

See also[]

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