A Sailor Abroad – US Navy Officer in Valparaiso, Chile

US Naval Officer, Valparaiso, Chile, ca 1861
US Naval Officer, Valparaiso, Chile, ca 1861

Another find from my Gettysburg excursion. He’s a US Navy Officer. I’m not sure of the dating – the jacket looks possibly post- Civil War, but the shoulder boards suggest he’s a Master (a rank no longer used, but the equivalent of a Lieutenant, Junior Grade today) circa 1861. They changed the Master’s insignia in 1862 from the blank bar to include a gold bar at each end and an anchor in the middle, and introduced the rank of Ensign to replace the previous rank of Passed Midshipman as the most junior commissioned officer rank. This is another records quest – I would suspect there were only one or two ships at most that would have docked in Valparaiso in 1861, and ship’s crews being significantly smaller in 1861 than they are now, there’s a good chance he was the only Master (or one of two) on the ship.

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