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William Richardson was born in 1840 in Glasgow, Scotland and it was in Scotland that Richardson received his training to become a marine engineer. When the steamer “Flambeau”  was built and commissioned at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, on November 27, 1861 Richardson was said to have been on board, serving as Acting 3rd Assistant Engineer when she went to sea. That ship, in reality, was the “Flambeau II”, built in 1861 by Lawrence and Foulks, Brooklyn, N.Y.; purchased by the Navy 14 November 1861, and commissioned  November 27, 1861 with Lieutenant Commander W. G. Temple in command.

The “Flambeau” was assigned to the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, arriving at Nassau, New Providence on December 1, 1861, and for a month patrolled the island because it was a key base for Confederate blockade runners. On January 22, 1862, the “Flambeau” arrived at Port Royal, South Carolina and was ordered to blockade Stono Inlet, one of the strategic entrances to Charleston Harbor. For the following year, she cruised off Charleston, sharing in the capture of several prizes, and sending a party ashore on December 28th to destroy an abandoned Confederate fortification on Bull's Island. Again in Bull's Bay on  January 31, 1863, she sent a foraging party ashore, all of whom were captured by the enemy. The following day the “Flambeau” sent out a rescue party, but it too lost one man killed and one wounded when attacked by the Confederates. Richardson, however, was not with the “Flambeau” after 1862, being  transferred  to  the USS  “Vermont” after  requesting official permission to resign his commission.

The “Flambeau” though served throughout the war. In February 1863, the “Flambeau” delivered stores to ships along the coasts of Florida and Georgia, then returned to duty off Charleston, South Carolina until April. After repairs were made at Washington, she joined her squadron at New Inlet from May through September 1863, capturing the Confederate  schooner “Betty Kratzer” on June 23rd.  She was  then ordered to Fernandina, Florida where on  November 28, 1863 she captured  the schooner “John Gilpin”. Afterwards,  returning to New York, she was out of commission for repairs from  February 10, 1864 through June 22, 1864.

Rejoining her squadron June 21, 1864, the “Flambeau” was ordered to Georgetown, South Carolina where on  June 23rd  she fired on a Confederate cavalry and men working on two wrecks on the beach; driving them off. She then continued to blockade the Carolina coast, and to carry supplies from the base at Port Royal to the fleet of Charleston, through the remainder of the war. She returned to New York Navy Ship Yard on May  31,1865 and was decommissioned on June 7, 1866; being  sold  on July 12, 1866.

While at Port Royal in 1862, Richardson sent a dispatch to Gideon Wells, Secretary of the U.S. Navy, requesting to be allowed to resign.  He stated as his reason for the decision was that his health was declining to a point he could no longer satisfactorily perform his duties and requested he be allowed to resign as Acting 3rd Assistant Engineer of the “Flambeau”. As a result of his request, he was ordered aboard the USS “Vermont” on January 7, 1863, “for residence”, and transported back to New York where his resignation was officially recorded on January 24, 1863. The “Vermont” was a 74-gun warship, but Richardson never saw action aboard her. He was only aboard for seventeen days before his resignation was officially signed.

In 1863 Richardson left the U.S. for Australia and about a year later, in February 1864, he married Agnes McFarlane; who had arrived in Australia from Scotland that same year; aboard the “General Caulfield”. William and Agnes had a total of thirteen children. Richardson continued working as an engineer in Australia with the Engineering Department of the Australian Steam Navigation Company, in Brisbane, Queensland and later in Sydney, New South Wales. Richardson then joined the work force of the Sydney Department of Public Works in 1871 and remained a public works engineer there until he retired in 1904.

After retirement, Richardson moved his residence to Glebe, New South Wales, where lived for the next twenty years. Of his thirteen children, seven were still living at the time of his death; Elizabeth born in 1870, David born in 1872, Jane born in 1880, Agnes born in 1883, Helen born in 1888, Lavinia born in 1890 and William born in 1892.  William Richardson died in 1923 at the age of 83, still living in Glebe, and was buried in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney New South Wales, Presbyterian Section 50, Grave number 1567.

 

Birth, Marriage and Death Records, New South Wales

 Birth Records, Glasgow, Scotland

 “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships”, U.S. Navy Dept.

 “New York Daily Times”, newspaper archival records, November 29, 1861

 Rookwood Cemetery Records

 "The War of Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union

 and Confederate Armies 1880-1901"

 U.S. Naval Archives, Washington, D.C. -  U.S. Pension Records, Washington, D.C.

 

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