James Augustin Greer
Dates of Service: 8/15/1877 - 8/23/1877
Birth Date: 2/28/1833
Death Date: 6/17/1904
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 28, 1833, James Augustin Greer became a midshipman in 1848 and was a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1854. As a passed midshipman, he participated in the Paraguay Expedition and then joined the African Squadron until the outbreak of the American Civil War. He served as a lieutenant on USS San Jacinto when, in November 1861, she stopped the British steamer Trent and took prisoner the Confederate diplomatic commissioners James Mason and John Slidell, causing a period of tension between Great Britain and the United States. Promoted to lieutenant commander, Greer joined the Mississippi Squadron and commanded the ironclads Carondelet and Benton in the Vicksburg campaign. He also participated in the shelling of Grand Gulf and fought in the Red River expedition. He commanded the Mound City, Illinois naval station briefly before taking command of the flagship Blackhawk. After the war, he alternated between the Naval Academy and the Pacific Squadron until 1873, when he joined in the search effort to find the missing Arctic explorer Charles Francis Hall. The wreck of Hall’s ship was found on Littleton Island, North Greenland. Greer was promoted to captain on April 27, 1876.
Greer’s association with Constitution was short. He commanded during a brief period when his predecessor left unexpectedly and the planned replacement needed a few days to make the transfer. Greer’s command lasted only from August 15 to 23, 1877.
From 1878 to 1879, Greer commanded USS Constellation on a voyage to France and USS Hartford on the South Atlantic Station. Various shore assignments followed until 1887, when, as commodore, he began a two-year tour of the European Station in USS Lancaster. Shore duties completed his service. He was promoted to rear admiral on April 3, 1892 and retired on February 28, 1895. Greer died on June 17, 1904 and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.
Courtesy Naval History & Heritage Command