John L. Worden Biography

Fort Worden: Rebirth Through Decay John Lorimer Worden Biography

The namesake of the fort, John Lorimer Worden finished his career as a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. He was a Mexican-American War and Civil War veteran, and, in the latter conflict, became a prisoner of war. He was held for several months. In February of 1862, after being set free and recovering, he was put in command of the ironclad battleship Monitor.

On March 9, 1962, Lieutenant Worden led the Monitor in battle against the Confederate Virginia, another ironclad which the previous day had sunk two Union ships. It was a historic battle, the first between two ironclad warships, and ended in a tactical draw. However, this prevented the Virginia from disrupting the Federal blockade of the Norfolk area. The “victory” turned Lieutenant Worden into a major war hero in the North.

In July 1962 he was promoted to Commander, then Captain, and commanded another monitor, Montauk, which attacked Fort McAllister in January of 1863. In February, Worden’s Montauk destroyed the privateer Rattlesnake, and in April joined in the attack on Fort Sumter.

Following the Civil War, Worden commanded the USS Pensacola in the Pacific, was promoted to Commodore in 1868, then served five years as the Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy where he was promoted to Rear Admiral. He had reached the highest permanent rank during peacetime in the United States Armed Services.

From 1875-77 he commanded the European Squadron, then was given shore duty until his retirement from active duty in 1886. On October 18, 1897, in Washington, D.C., the distinguished life of Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden came to an end.

Peter St. George © 2011-2016