William F. Lynch
William F. Lynch was born in Virginia. On 2 June 1828, one month after his promotion to lieutenant, Lynch was married in New Haven, Connecticut, to Virginia Shaw, the youngest daughter of a senior navy officer and sister-in-law of another. They had two children, but separated in the 1840s and divorced in 1850s.
He was appointed a midshipman 26 January 1819, and first saw service with the USS Congress and next with the schooner USS Shark under Lieutenant Matthew C. Perry. Subsequent service included duty with Commodore David Porter's "Mosquito Squadron" in the West Indies and in the Mediterranean.
Middle East Operations
Lynch had his first command, the Poinsett, from 3 March to 30 December 1839. The ship sailed on behalf of the United States Naval Hydrographic Office. In 1847, he proceeded to the Jordan River, transporting overland, by camels, a copper and a galvanized iron boat. A total of 16 men were a part of the trip, including John Y. Mason. Each boat was "assembled" and then placed on a carriage. His expedition ended with the exploration of the River Jordan and the Dead Sea.
Using the triangulation method, Lynch's expedition was the first to determine that the Dead Sea was below sea level, something that the scientific community had inferred but not previously determined conclusively, though several other expeditions by Europeans had attempted to do so. The American expedition's measurement showed the Dead Sea to be 1312.7 ft. (400 metres) below sea level.
He published his travels in 1849, Narrative of the United States' Expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea.
In 1849 he was commissioned commander and in 1850 was promoted to captain. In 1852, he requested permission to explore the interior of Africa for purposes of possible colonization. In his exploration in west central Africa, he caught a fever, and was forced to return to the United States. Lynch believed that explorers who "remove the obstruction to Commerce, Civilization and Christianity will become the benefactors of mankind."
American Civil War
After Virginia seceded from the United States on 17 April 17, 1861, he resigned from the United States Navy on 21 April. Lynch was initially appointed captain in the Virginia Navy and when Virginia joined the Confederate States of America and merged its military, he became a captain in the Confederate States Navy on 10 June 1861. He commanded naval batteries at Aquia Creek, Virginia, during their shelling by Union gunboats in May 1861; was in charge of gunboats and the defense of Roanoke Island, North Carolina in February 1862; and led Confederate naval forces at Vicksburg, Mississippi from March to October 1862. He was also assigned to the Department of the Navy offices as the Chief of the Bureau of Orders and Details during 1862.
The USS Lynch (T-AGOR-7) was named after Lynch.
- Christopher Costigan – explored the River Jordan and the Dead Sea in 1835
- John MacGregor – explored the River Jordan and the Dead Sea in 1869
2. Bain, David Haward (2011). Bitter Waters. New York, NY: The Overlook Press. p. 384.ISBN 978-1-59020-352-1. An account of Lynch's expedition to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
Clark, Carol Lea. Clash of Eagles: America's Forgotten Expedition to Ottoman Palestine, 2012. Lyons Press (Guilford, Conn.)ISBN 978-0762778423. Lt. William Francis Lynch commanded America's first military foray into the Middle East for the purpose of exploring the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.