1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Schley, Winfield Scott

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SCHLEY, WINFIELD SCOTT (1839-1911), American naval officer, was born at Richfields, near Frederick, Maryland, on the 9th of October 1839. He graduated at the United States Naval Academy in 1860, and during the Civil War was in active service as a lieutenant until July 1863. In 1867-1869 he was an instructor in the U.S. Naval Academy. He took part in Rear-Admiral John Rodgers's expedition to Korea in 1871, and was adjutant of the American land forces in the attack on the Korean forts on Salee river on the 10th and 11th of June. In 1872-1875 he was head of the department of modern languages in the U.S. Naval Academy. He was promoted commander in June 1874; in 1876-1879 commanded the “Essex,” most of the time in the South Atlantic, and then until October 1883 was inspector of the second lighthouse district. In February 1884, after the failure in 1883 of the second expedition (under Lieut. E. A. Garlington) for the relief of the Lady Franklin Bay Expedition commanded by Lieut. A. W. Greely, Schley was appointed to command the third Greely relief expedition; and near Cape Sabine on the 22nd of June rescued Greely and six (of his twenty-four) companions. He was chief of the bureau of equipment and recruiting in 1885-1889; and in April 1888 was promoted captain. He commanded the “Baltimore” in Rear-Admiral George Brown's squadron off the coast of Chile in 1891. Early in 1892 he was again transferred to the lighthouse bureau, and until February 1895 was inspector of the third lighthouse district; and in 1897-1898 he was a member (and chairman) of the Lighthouse Board. He was commissioned commodore on the 6th of February 1898, and on the 24th of March, although lowest on the list of commodores, he was put in command of the “flying squadron,” with the “Brooklyn” as his flagship, for service in the war with Spain. The command of the fleet off Santiago de Cuba was taken from Schley by Acting Rear-Admiral W. T. Sampson on the 1st of June. In the battle of Santiago on the 3rd of July Schley, in Sampson's absence, was the senior officer and the “Brooklyn” did especial service, with the “Oregon,” in overhauling and disabling the “Crístobal Colón.” On the 10th of August Schley was advanced six numbers and was made rear-admiral for “eminent and conspicuous conduct in battle.” On the 19th he was appointed a commissioner of the United States to arrange the evacuation of Porto Rico. When the Navy Department recommended that Sampson be promoted eight numbers and over the head of Schley, who had ranked him for forty-two years, there was a bitter controversy, and the Senate did not confirm the promotion. On the 14th of April 1899 Schley was commissioned rear-admiral, ranking as major-general. In November 1899 he was put in command of the South Atlantic Station, and in October 1901 he retired from active service upon reaching the age limit. At his request, because of the charges made against him in E. S. Maclay's History of the Navy, a court of inquiry investigated Schley's conduct before and during the battle of Santiago; on the 13th of December 1901 the court pronounced Schley guilty of delay in locating Cervera's squadron, of carelessness in endangering the “Texas” by a peculiar “loop” movement or turn of the “Brooklyn” which blanketed the fire of other American vessels, and of disobedience to a departmental order of the 25th of May, but it recommended that no action be taken. Admiral Schley filed a protest against the court's findings, which, however, were approved by the Secretary of the Navy.

Schley wrote, with James Russell Soley, The Rescue of Greely (New York, 1885). See Schley's Forty-five Years under the Flag (New York, 1904).