Thomas ap Catesby Jones

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Thomas ap  Catesby Jones
Thomas ap Catesby Jones.jpg
A young Jones
Born(1790-04-24)April 24, 1790 [1]
Westmoreland County, Virginia, U.S.
DiedMay 30, 1858(1858-05-30) (aged 68) [2]
Sharon, Virginia, U.S.
AllegianceFlag of the United States (1851-1858).svg United States
Service/branchUS Naval Jack 31 stars.svg  United States Navy
Years of service1805–1858
Rank USN commodore rank insignia.jpg Commodore
Commands held USS Peacock
Pacific Squadron
Battles/wars War of 1812 Capture of Monterey
Mexican–American War

Thomas ap  Catesby Jones (24 April 1790 – 30 May 1858) was a US Navy commissioned officer during the War of 1812 and the Mexican–American War.

War of 1812 32-month military conflict between the United States and the British Empire

The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States and the United Kingdom, with their respective allies, from June 1812 to February 1815. Historians in Britain often see it as a minor theatre of the Napoleonic Wars; historians in the United States and Canada see it as a war in its own right.

Mexican–American War Armed conflict between the United States of America and Mexico from 1846 to 1848

The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the Intervención estadounidense en México, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848. It followed in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which was not formally recognized by the Mexican government, who disputed the Treaties of Velasco signed by Mexican caudillo President/General Antonio López de Santa Anna after the Texas Revolution a decade earlier. In 1845, newly elected U.S. President James K. Polk, who saw the annexation of Texas as the first step towards a further expansion of the United States, sent troops to the disputed area and a diplomatic mission to Mexico. After Mexican forces attacked U.S. forces, the United States Congress declared war.


Early life and education

Thomas ap Catesby Jones was born on 24 April 1790 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Catesby and Lettice (Turberville) Jones. The Jones family had originated in Wales and the middle name "ap Catesby" was a gesture to the patronymic surnames traditionally used in Wales; Thomas ap Catesby in Welsh means "Thomas, son of Catesby". [1]

Westmoreland County, Virginia County in the United States

Westmoreland County is a county located in the Northern Neck of the Commonwealth of Virginia. At the 2010 census, the population was 17,454. Its county seat is Montross.

Virginia U.S. state in the United States

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Jones' father died on 23 September 1801 leaving the family destitute. Jones and his older brother, Roger were taken in by an uncle, Meriwether Jones of Richmond, Virginia. His mother died in December 1804 after a long illness leaving Jones an orphan at age 14. His uncle provided for his and his brother's education at Richmond Academy until the expense of private school became a burden. They studied with a private tutor after leaving the school. [3] Roger Jones would later become Adjutant General of the U.S. Army. [4]

Roger Jones (Adjutant General) Adjutant General of the United States Army

Roger ap Catesby Jones was an officer in the United States Marine Corps and United States Army who was the longest-serving Adjutant General of the U.S. Army in U.S. history, holding the position from 1825 to 1852.

Richmond, Virginia Capital of Virginia

Richmond is a city in, and the capital of, the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and the Greater Richmond Region. Richmond was incorporated in 1742 and has been an independent city since 1871.

War of 1812

Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana BattleLakeBorgneHornbrook.jpg
Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana

Jones was appointed a midshipman in the U.S. Navy on 22 November 1805 at the age of fifteen, but owing to a lack of openings for midshipmen he was not ordered to active duty. He was furloughed home and advised to study geography, navigation, and surveying so that his chances of getting an active assignment would improve. After the Chesapeake–Leopard Affair, the Navy mobilized its gunboats and Jones was ordered to report to Norfolk, Virginia, where he was assigned to gunboat No. 10, reporting the first week of August 1807. [5]

A midshipman is an officer of the junior-most rank, in the Royal Navy, United States Navy, and many Commonwealth navies. Commonwealth countries which use the rank include Canada, Australia, Bangladesh, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Kenya.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.

Norfolk, Virginia Independent city in Virginia, United States

Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 242,803; in 2017, the population was estimated to be 244,703 making it the second-most populous city in Virginia after neighboring Virginia Beach and the 91st largest city in the nation.

Thomas Jones received honors for bravery at the Battle of Lake Borgne (1814), Louisiana, delaying the British before the Battle of New Orleans. [6]

Battle of Lake Borgne A naval battle fought between Britain and the United States in the War of 1812

The Battle of Lake Borgne was a battle between the Royal Navy and Royal Marines on one side and the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines on the other in the American South theatre of the War of 1812. It occurred on December 14, 1814 on Lake Borgne, and allowed the British to assault New Orleans ten days later.

Louisiana U.S. state in the United States

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Battle of New Orleans Battle part of the War of 1812

The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815 between the British Army under Major General Sir Edward Pakenham and the United States Army under Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson. It took place approximately 5 miles east-southeast of the city of New Orleans, close to the town of Chalmette, Louisiana, and it was a U.S. victory.

Between wars

In 1826, Commodore Jones while in command of the veteran sloop-of-war Peacock , signed a treaty with Queen regent Kaʻahumanu and other chiefs of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. [7] In 1827, Peacock was severely damaged in an attack by a whale. [8] Upon return to New York in October 1827, she was decommissioned and broken up in 1828. She was rebuilt as Peacock (1828), to serve as an exploration ship of the United States Exploring Expedition. Jones was to have commanded the expedition, but lack of funding delayed the expedition until 1838, by which time he had resigned the appointment. [9]

Commodore is a naval rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral, counter admiral, or senior captain as an equivalent, although counter admiral may also correspond to rear admiral.

Sloop-of-war ship type

In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. The rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above; thus, the term sloop-of-war encompassed all the unrated combat vessels, including the very small gun-brigs and cutters. In technical terms, even the more specialised bomb vessels and fireships were classed as sloops-of-war, and in practice these were employed in the sloop role when not carrying out their specialized functions.

USS <i>Peacock</i> (1813)

USS Peacock was a sloop-of-war in the United States Navy during the War of 1812.

In May 1836, an act of Congress authorized the President to establish the five year United States Exploring Expedition "to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas", the first extra-continental American scientific exploration. Jones was appointed Commander of the Expedition. However, delays in Expedition departure dates, and various other disagreements, led to Jones (and certain scientists, including botanist Asa Gray) declining the position in December 1837. The position was subsequently offered to Charles Wilkes.

From 1841 to 1844, Jones commanded the United States Pacific Squadron, and again from 1848 to 1850. In 1842, four years before the start of the Mexican–American War, Jones mistakenly thought that war had begun; he seized the California port of Monterey and held it for one day before returning control to Mexico. [10]

Hearing that British Captain Lord George Paulet had seized the Hawaiian Kingdom, he sailed there and arrived July 22, 1843. The king was restored July 31, and Jones tried to hasten peace by hosting all parties to dinner aboard his ship. [11]

In 1843, Jones returned a young deserter, Herman Melville, to the United States from the Sandwich Islands, as the Hawaiian Islands were then known. Later, Melville modeled "Commodore J—" in Moby-Dick , and the Commodore in White-Jacket after Jones. [12] In 1827 Peacock under Jones's command had been severely damaged in an attack by a whale, which Melville took to have been a sperm whale. [8] Moby-Dick may have partially inspired the story told of Jones in Chapter 45 "The Affidavit". [13]

By early 1844 Alexander Dallas had replaced Jones as Pacific commander. [11]

Mexican War

In 1848, Jones arrived in Mazatlán just at the end of the Mexican–American War, maintaining order until he could transport those who had aided the United States in that war to Monterey. [14]

Grave of Thomas ap Catesby Jones in the cemetery of the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, Lewinsville, Virginia Grave of Thomas ap Catesby Jones with surroundings.jpg
Grave of Thomas ap Catesby Jones in the cemetery of the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, Lewinsville, Virginia

Later career

For the next two years, during the chaotic Gold Rush days, Jones provided a U.S. Navy presence in the San Francisco area while the United States debated what to do with the newly acquired California Territory. [15]

In 1850, in a politically charged court-martial shortly after White-Jacket was published, Jones was found guilty on three counts mostly related to "oppression" of junior officers and relieved of command for two-and-a-half years. In 1853, President Millard Fillmore reinstated him and in 1858, the United States Congress restored his pay. [16]

See also



  1. 1 2 Smith, p 3
  2. Smith, p 161
  3. Smith, pp 6–8
  4. Smith, p 45
  5. Smith, p 11
  6. Smith, pp 29–32
  7. Stauffer, pp 4142
  8. 1 2 Smith, p 68
  9. Stanton, pp 35-66
  10. Stauffer, p 42
  11. 1 2 Gapp, pp 101–121
  12. Stauffer, pp 4243
  13. Smith, p 151
  14. Bauer, p 232
  15. Smith, pp 132–147
  16. Smith, pp 159–160


  • Bauer, K. Jack (1969). Surfboats and Horse Marines: U.S. Naval Operations in the Mexican War, 184648. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute.
  • Gapp, Frank W. (1985). "The Kind-Eyed Chief: Forgotten Champion of Hawaii's Freedom". Hawaiian Journal of History. Hawaii Historical Society. 19: 101–121. hdl:10524/235.
  • Smith, Gene A. (2000). Thomas ap Catesby Jones. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN   978-1-55750-848-5.
  • Stanton, William (1975). The Great United States Exploring Expedition. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN   0520025571.
  • Stauffer, Robert H. (2009). "The Hawai'i-United States Treaty of 1826" (pdf). eVols. University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved 5 December 2015.

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