Table of Contents

Title Page
Captain Edward Babcock
Captain George Francis Babcock
W. I. Babcock
Frederick A. Bailey
Captain Joshua Bailey
Captain Robert N. Bailey
Captain Thomas J. Bailey
Captain A. J. Bain
Captain Isaac Guilbert Bain
Captain Edward J. Baker
Captain C. R. Baker
Captain J. Baker
James W. Baker
J. A. Baldwin
Captain T.G. Baldwin
Horatio F. Bangs
Captain G. C. Barnes
William C. Barr
Captain John Barrow
Fred B. Barrows
Captain John L. Bartlett
Peter D. Bauld
William Baumert
James W. Beach
Oscar M. Beach
Charles Beatty
Richard Beaubien
Henry Beck
William G. Beckbissinger
Captain Daniel M. Becker
G. W. Beers
Thurman E. Beers
Harvey C. Beeson
David Bell
George M. Belloir
Captain W. H. Beltz
Captain Charles E. Benham
Captain W. P. Benham
D. C. Bennett
J. C. Bennett
James Bennett
Captain Fred G. Benson
Captain John G. Betke
Captain John M. Beverly
C. F. Bielman
Frank Bingham
A. D. Birdsall
W. E. Bishop
William H. Bishop
David A. Black
William A. Black
James B. Blair
Edward R. Blanchard
Joseph R. Blanchette
H. J. Blaney
C. Blauvelt
Robert S. Blauvelt
Henry Bloecker
Captain David Blom
Captain Frank Bloom
Charles A. Bloomer
Thomas J. Bluett
Adam G. Bohland
Captain George Bohn
George M. Bohnert
Captain David Bordeaux
Henry Born
Captain William A. Boswell
Captain Benjamin Boutell
Captain Thomas T. Boyd
Captain P. Boylan
George A. Brabant
George L. Brackett
Captain Thomas J. Brady
Fred A. Bradley
William E. Bradley
M. E. Brady
William Brake
Henry Braund
Samuel H. Braund
Patrick Brennan
Captain Julius Brett
Hiram Philip R. Brey
Captain John Bridge
Thomas W. Bristow
Engineer Peter Britz
John Broderick
J. P. Brogan
Captain Charles T. Bronson
Captain George E. Brooks
James William Brooks
Captain R. H. Brooks
Captain A. J. Brown
Alexander A. Brown
Capt. C. W. Brown
Captain Charles T. Brown
Charles W. Brown
Captain Frank H. Brown
Captain George H. Brown
Captain James E. Brown
Captain John Brown
Nelson Brown
Willis Brown
Hugh Buchanan
James Buchanan
Daniel Buie
Captain Dugald Buie
Henry Bullard
William Bullock
Captain Thaddeus F. Burbank
Henry B. Burger
James V. Burke
Captain William C. Burnett
William Ritchie Burnett
David Burns
Captain George C. Burns
M. J. Burns
Captain Riley M. Burrington
Captain F. O. Burrows
A. E. Bury
Captain Thomas Bury
Charles W. Butler
E. D. Butler
Captain F. G. Butlin
John Butterworth
Corey H. Buzzard
Irvin G. Buzzard
Captain Robert L. Byers
Captain James Byers
James T. Byers
Table of Illustrations

Captain James Byers

Captain James Byers was born in Ireland in 1834, and removed to the United States with his parents at an early age, the family settling in Buffalo.

In 1862 he was the hero of a daring exploit which saved a vast amount of government property, and won for him the hearty thanks of President Lincoln. A short time before the Civil war opened he went to Virginia with the little steamer J.P. White to fill a contract he had made with ex-Mayor Barton, of Buffalo. While he was in Norfolk, Va., the struggle commenced in earnest, and the Captain's vessel was seized, he being suspected as a Northern sympathizer. In 1861, therefore, he was not permitted to sail his steamer, but early in 1862 the Confederacy was in need of his services, and he was again placed in charge of the White. The Rebels, who were preparing to evacuate Norfolk and Portsmouth, Va., had mined all the government buildings, preparatory to blowing them up. The navy yard, as well as the government hospital at Portsmouth was to be burned at the same time, and Captain Byers, learning this, determined to make the attempt to save this property by running the forts and batteries and informing the authorities of the Northern army stationed at Newport News under the command of General Mansfield. He took into his confidence two trusty friends, George W. Griggs and John Nolen, and on May 6, 1862, the three men took possession of the steamer, and flying the Confederate flag, steamed down the river past the Rebel forts and batteries and landed at Newport News, where they surrendered the White to General Mansfield. President Lincoln, Secretary Stanton and General Wool were at Old Point Comfort, a few miles away, and thither Captain Byers was directed, that he might impart his startling information in person. A letter from President Lincoln to Congress tells the rest of the story: "On the morning of May 7, 1862, I was at Fortress Monroe, Va., when two or three men came there and said that they had just come from Norfolk, and that Norfolk was being evacuated by the enemy. This information proved true, and to a great extent led to the movements which resulted in our occupation of that city and the destruction of the Merrimac. It was said, and I believe truly, that they came on a tug, which they surrendered to the United States authorities." The unexpected descent of the Union troops had defeated the plan of blowing up and burning the government property at Norfolk, and enabled the government forces to blow up and ram Merrimac. The steamer J.P. White, which had been brought over from the enemy by Captain Byers and his comrades, was used in the Federal service until again captured by the enemy and destroyed. It would seem that according to the usage of war these men were entitled to the price of the vessel thus surrendered to the government, and also compensation for the value of the intelligence given. They at one time had a bill before Congress asking for some recognition of these claims, and it was in support of this measure that President Lincoln wrote the letter above quoted; but Captain Byers, not being an expert in the art of "lobbying," never realized the money value of his steamer or recompense for his courageous action. He served all through the war, and was honorably discharged in 1865.

Before taking the steamer J.P. White down to Virginia Captain Byers had thoroughly learned the duties of pilot and master of lake craft, having sailed the George W. Tift and F. L. Danforth, and was a captain on the lakes before he was twenty years old. After his discharge from the Navy he returned to Buffalo, and, with his brother, Robert L. Byers and James Ash, engaged in the tug and vessel business. He sailed the tug L.P. Dayton, and did the towing for the water-works crib for the contractor, John Heckles. This tug was purchased and put into the association. He also sailed the tug Compound. In 1886 he took the tug International, and sailed her for the International Bridge Company, until he was prostrated by a stroke of paralysis which terminated in his death on April 8, 1894. He left a widow, Mrs. Rosa M. (Stevens) Byers, who resides on Fargo Avenue, Buffalo, New York.


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Volume I

This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.

Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.