William Banks Caperton bigraphy, stories - United States admiral

William Banks Caperton : biography

30 June 1855 - 12 December 1941

William Banks Caperton (June 30, 1855 – December 12, 1941) was an admiral of the United States Navy.

Dates of rank

  • Midshipman – September 17, 1875
  • Ensign – August 3, 1877
  • Lieutenant (junior grade) – October 13, 1883
  • Lieutenant – October 24, 1889
  • Lieutenant-Commander – unknown
  • Commander – unknown
  • Captain – unknown
  • Rear Admiral – February 14, 1913
  • Admiral – July 28, 1916


File:Retired admirals 7 August 1928.jpg|Caperton is seated second from right in this 7 August 1928 photograph of retired U.S. Navy rear admirals and other retirees at Rear Admiral Spencer S. Woods home in Jamestown, Rhode Island.


He was born on June 30, 1855 in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Caperton graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1875. He held major posts ashore and afloat, chief of which were commanding the naval forces intervening in Haiti (1915–16) and Santo Domingo (1916), and Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, from July 28, 1916 to April 30, 1919. He served actively until November 12, 1921. and died in Newport, Rhode Island, December 12, 1941.

In 1943, the destroyer was named in his honor.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy in September 1875, Caperton served at sea for five years, with duty aboard , , and . He had three years' service with the Coast and Geodetic Survey, after which he joined Ossipee for service on the Asiatic Station. In April 1887, he assumed duty as Inspector of Steel at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in November of the following year transferred to Washington, D.C. for duty as Secretary of the Steel Inspection Board. He next had brief duty in the summer of 1891 as Recorder of the Examining Board at Norfolk, Virginia.

Caperton had three years' consecutive sea duty aboard , , and . On February 21, 1895, he reported to the Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department, Washington, DC, and following three months' duty in that office, he had instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, completing the course there on October 15, 1896. Next followed consecutive service aboard USS Brooklyn and during the Spanish-American War period aboard USS Marietta, with service as executive officer of that vessel after the peace protocol was signed on August 12, 1898, and until October 16, 1899.

Returning to the United States, Admiral Caperton reported for duty as Inspector of Ordinance at the Navy Yard, Washington, DC, to serve from December 1899 until July 1901, when he was ordered to duty in connection with the fitting out of . He served as her executive officer from her commissioning, August 8, 1901, until May 1904, when he was again ordered to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Completing the course of instruction in October of that year, he became Inspector of the 15th Light House District at St. Louis, Missouri, and served in that capacity until April 15, 1907.

He assumed command of on April 20, 1907 and transferred his command to on July 31, 1908. Detached from that command when the Maine was decommissioned on August 31, 1909, he proceeded to Washington, DC. He thereafter became Secretary of the Light House Board, Department of Commerce and Labor, on October 11, 1909, and served in that assignment until June 30, 1910, when he was ordered to duty in attendance upon the summer conference of officers at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island. Upon completion of the conference he returned to Washington, DC, where he was assigned duty as member of the Naval Examining and Naval Retiring Boards.

Following duty as Commandant of the Naval Station, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, from May 1912 until October 1913, during which period he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, Admiral Caperton became Commander in Chief, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, , flagship, and after a year's service in that command, he assumed command in November 1914 of Cruiser Squadron, Atlantic Fleet, USS Washington, flagship. During the period of this assignment, and transferring his flag to Tennessee and later to Dolphin, he commanded the Naval Forces that intervened at Haiti in 1915–1916; was Commander Naval Forces, Vera Cruz, in 1915; and commanded Naval Forces intervening and suppressing the Santo Domingo Revolution in 1916.

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