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Adam Edward Walsh was born in the town of Tourin, County Waterford in Ireland, on June 17, 1841; the son of Edward Walsh, an Irish poet, and Bridget Sullivan.   Adam began his life on the sea at the age of eleven, and his first voyage was to America.   There is no information available relating to when Adam may have migrated to the United States for good or anything relating to his life after arriving, but at least one record reveals Adam Walsh enlisted in the U.S. Reserve Service at the age of seventeen under the assumed name of George Davis, in 1858.   He signed aboard the United States Revenue Cutter “Washington”, using the name George Davis because he was only 17 years of age and too young to enlist under his own name.

When the American Civil War broke out Adam joined the regular U.S. Navy and was drafted first aboard the brig “Bainbridge” in 1860, then the Sloop “Macedonia” that same year, the Gunboat “Chocura” in 1861 and the Frigate Brandywine” in 1862; being discharged in November 1863.   He then joined the United States Volunteers in 1864 and the Revenue Cutter “Wyandra” in 1867; being discharged again in October 1867.  The “Washington” was authorized on July 6th and named on August 1, 1837, for Peter G. Washington, a native of Virginia who served as clerk in the U.S. Treasury, chief clerk to the 6th Auditor, 1st Assistant Postmaster General, and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury; sailing on on her first cruise on December 18th.

She was eventually transferred to the Coast Survey and served 12 years under the aegis of the Navy, off the eastern seaboard of the United States on surveying and sounding duties. When the United States went to war in Mexico, Washington served with Commodore Matthew C. Perry's forces and was returned to the Treasury Department on 18 May 1852.

Ordered to the Gulf of Mexico in the spring of 1859 to relieve Robert McClelland, Washington arrived at Southwest Pass, La., and remained there into 1861; and although slated to be relieved in turn, by the “Robert McClelland”, the outbreak of the War Between the States caught the brig at New Orleans where she was taken over by authorities of Louisiana soon after that state seceded from the Union; on January 31, 1861. Little is known of the ship thereafter. In June 1861, Comdr. David Dixon Porter reported that the ship was being fitted out at New Orleans and was almost ready for sea, but no clues to the ship's subsequent career thereafter have been found.

The USS Bainbridge was a 259-ton brig built at the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned in December 1842. She was named in honor of Commodore William Bainbridge who died in 1833 and operated with the Home Squadron until mid-1844 and then alternated in service with the Brazil and African Squadrons until 1860. In May 1861, soon after the Civil War began, the “Bainbridge” was sent to the Gulf of Mexico to enforce the blockade of the Confederacy and to protect United States shipping. While in that area in May and June 1862, she participated in the capture of three blockade runners. Following a brief trip north, the “Bainbridge” returned to the Gulf area in August 1862 where she encountered a damaging storm at Aspinwall, Columbia , later known as Panama, in late November 1862 that forced her to jettison much of her equipment, armament and supplies. Repaired at New York in May-August 1863, the USS “Bainbridge” was en route south on August 21, 1863 when she capsized off Cape Hatteras. Only one of her crewmen survived the disaster.

The Macedonia on which Walsh served was actually the second “Macedonia”, a 36-gun frigate. She was rebuilt from the keel of the first Macedonian at Gosport (later Norfolk) Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, beginning in 1832 and launched and placed in service in 1836. In 1852 Macedonian was docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and converted to a sloop-of-war for the expedition to Japan, from 1852 to 1854. Walsh served aboard her after her return and being placed into service during the war.   The Chocura on which he served, was a screw steam gunboat, launched October 6, 1861 by Curtis and Tilden at Boston, Massachusetts and commissioned on February 16, 1862 with Commander T. H. Patterson in command. She was one of twenty-three vessels of her class and was fitted with one 11 inch smoothbore Dahgren gun on a semi-pivot, two 24 pound smooth bore guns and one 20 pound Parrot rifle on her forecastle.

Departing Boston on March 17, 1862 the “Chocura” was forced to put into Baltimore for repairs and did not arrive at Fort Monroe, Virginia until April 6th. She was then assigned the blockade of Yorktown and patrolled up the York River until November 9, 1862 when she joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron for service off Wilmington, North Carolina; cruising there until August 15, 1863. In May 1863 the U.S.S. “Chocura” with Lieutenant Commander Truxtun, with the U.S.S. Maratanza in company, seized the sloop “Express” off Charleston, South Carolina with cargo of salt.

After repairs at the Philadelphia Navy Yard the “Chocura” sailed to New Orleans Louisiana arriving on November 30, 1863. There she joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron for patrols in the Gulf of Mexico, taking six prizes and assisting in capturing two others. In May 1864 alone, the “Chocura”, under Lieutenant Commander Bancroft Gherardi, captured the blockade running British schooner “Agnes” off the mouth of the Brazos River, Texas with cargo of cotton and later that same day overhauled and captured the Prussian schooner “Frederick the Second”, also laden with cotton, which had run the blockade with the “Agnes”. In late January 1865, she also cut out and destroyed a three-masted schooner.

The “Brandywine” on which Walsh served, was previously known as the frigate “Susquehanna” and was renamed the “Brandywine” prior to her launching by the Washington Navy Yard, with President John Quincy Adams on board, June 16, 1825. She joined the Mediterranean Squadron and from 1826 to 1851 made three cruises in the Mediterranean, two in the Pacific as flagship, one to the Gulf of Mexico, East Indies, and Brazil. She was in ordinary at New York Navy Yard from 1851 through 1860.   In 1861 the Brandywine was returned to service and converted to a store ship and was station in Hampton Roads Virginia. She was recommissioned October 27, 1861 and on March 9, 1862 was towed up the Bay to Baltimore by the “Mount Vernon”. She was towed back to Hampton Roads in June 1862 for service as a store and receiving ship for the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and then moved to Norfolk where she was destroyed by fire on September 3, 1864
Though Walsh is said to have served aboard the “Washington” in 1858, his personnel records state he enlisted for service on November 19, 1860; creating a real contradiction. One explanation may be that his age deception was discovered and his enlistment date was recorded to coincide with his actual age. His records also reveal he was aboard the “Brandywine” when he was honourably discharged, at Hampton Roads, Virginia on November 18, 1863. George Davis though is shown in the ships descriptive records as having served as a “coxswain”, was received from the Norfolk Hospital at age 23 and was on the ship’s Muster Roll for December 31, 1863.

After Walsh’s having received a discharge, records reveal he was listed aboard the Government Transport Ships “General Custer” and “McLellan” and the Steamer “E.C. Knight”, operating between Washington and New York; and then aboard the Revenue Cutter “Wyandra” for seventeen months until his discharge in October 1867 at San Francisco, California.   The “General Custer” was originally the “Mount Savage”, a 452-ton screw steamship, built in 1853 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was renamed the “Memphis” in 1857, chartered by the Navy in September 1858 and served as the USS “Memphis” during the Paraguay expedition of late 1858 and early 1859. The steamer was then purchased by the Navy in May 1859 and renamed the “Mystic” a few weeks later.

During the first part of the Civil War the “Mystic” served in the blockade of the Confederacy's Atlantic Coast. In May 1863 she supported the Army during an expedition up the York River and in September of that year seized a sailing vessel off Yorktown. She was sold to private owners in June 1865, renamed the “General Custer”, and disappeared from merchant vessel registers in 1868.   The transport “McLellan” was a sidewheel, wooden hull packet launched in 1855 at Cincinnati, Ohio and named for Capt. Moses McLellan. In January 1861 she made trips to Pittsburgh with cotton and delivered U.S. Army supplies. In 1864 the La Crosse & Minnesota and the Northern Line Packet companies were consolidated under the name of the Northwestern Union Packet Company, with the steamers Moses McLellan, Ocean Wave, Itasca, Key City, Milwaukee City, Belle, War Eagle, Phil Sheridan, S. S. Merrill, Alex. Mitchell, City of St. Paul, Tom Jasper, Belle of La Crosse, City of Quincy, and John Kyle. This line controlled the general trade until 1874. Other than that, little is known about her. Her last known inspection was made at St. Paul in 1867.

The steamer “E.C. Knight was named after Edward C. Knight, President of the American Steamship Company and was one of many such ships that they built using steam for propulsion. She normally operated from New York south to Washington and eventually sank in the famous gale of October 23, 1878; one of the most severe hurricanes in the latter half of the 19th century.  Immense waves broke over the upper deck and winds reached 84 mph causing the ship to roll completely over, sinking immediately.

Learning that his mother seriously ill in Queensland, Australia, Adam set out from San Francisco, arriving in Australia on December 20, 1867. After arriving he spent some time in Warwick and Dalby, was placed in charge of the Morton Bay Light ship and later connected with the Pilot Service at Maryborough in August 1874. Being transferred to the Lighthouse Service in January 1877 Adam controlled the Sandy Cape and Lady Elliott Island Lighthouse until May 12, 1878; after which he was transferred to the Customs Department at Maryborough.

On September 8, 1875 Adam married 22 year old Josephina Charlotta Andersen from Gothenburg, Sweden at Maryborough, Queensland, Australia and Adam and Josephine had eight children, six of whom grew to adulthood; Brian Sarsfield born in 1877, Hilda Bridgid born in 1878, Mary Laurencia born in 1879, Frances Louisa born in 1881, Adam born in 1886 and Edward born in 1888. Three of their children, Brian, Hilda and Adam, married and between them provided Adam and Josephine with four grandchildren.

 In the Queensland Customs and Excise Service he served as a “Tidewaiter”, a Customs Officer that watched for ship arrivals so the vessels could be boarded and inspected; serving in that capacity for some thirty years. He served ten years there under Mr. A.B. Sheridan, he was eventually transferred to Cairns where he worked for another ten months. Due to detiorating health, Adam applied for and was granted another transfer, to Bundaberg; arriving in April 1888. He remained at that post until he retired in 1905; residing at 12 Boundary Street in Bundaberg.

Walsh retired from the Queensland Customs and Excise Service in 1904, but for some reason was determined not to be entitled to a pension from the Queensland government; he did, however, receive a small military pension. He achieved that only because his sister Mary Frances Sullivan swore in an affidavit to the pension board that she had corresponded with her brother while he was aboard the “Chocura” in the U.S. Navy, and at that time he was using the name of George Davis; while serving aboard the “Chocura”. As a result his pension was granted, certification No. 36441, which he received until his death.

On January 21, 1925, Adam Edward Walsh died at his home in Bundaberg, Queensland at the age of 83 years and six months and was buried in the Bundaberg General Cemetery; at 3p.m. on January 22, 1925. Adam Walsh was survived by his wife, three sons, three daughters and a sister; Brian and Edward in Bundaberg, Adam in Townsville, Mrs. Tunstall in Ipswich, Miss Francis in Brisbane, Minnie who was living at home and his sister Mrs. M.F. Sullivan in Warwick.

After his death his wife was awarded a widow’s pension which she received until her death on April 13, 1932. She was buried two days later, on April 15, 1932. Adam is buried with his wife and three children, Francis who died in 1948, Mary who died in 1959 and Edward who died in 1963 in the family plot A13, in the Bundaberg General Cemetery; marked by a monument.


Elizabeth Nunn, Great-Granddaughter of Adam Edward Walsh

Birth, Marriage and Death Records, Queensland
Bundaberg Cemetery Records
“Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships”, USGPO.
“Discover Waterford”, Eamon McEneaney
“Exploring Family Origins in Dungarvan”, County Waterford, Ireland
Family Records Centre, London
“Gleason’s Pictorial”, February 12, 1853, Volume IV, No. 7
National Archives, Washington, D.C.
Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy
“United States Revenue Cutters in the Civil War”, Florence Kern
“U.S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790-1935”, Donald Canney, Naval Institute Press, 1995
U.S. Pension Records, Washington, D.C.
“Warships of the Civil War Navies”, Paul H. Silverstone

Christene Anderson, Bundaberg Genealogy Assn.

Peter Richardson, Bundaberg, Qld


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