John L. Ring
d.30 Apr 1861 New Orleans, Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Facts and Events
John L. Ring (died 1861) was an officer in the U.S. Navy for twenty-six years and may have served in the Confederate States Navy. He is identified as a son of David A. Ring of Charleston, South Carolina, in a family letter dated 3 October 1840, but otherwise there is no record of his birth or parentage. If we assume John became an officer at sixteen, he must have been born sometime before 1819.
United States Navy, 1829-1855
John joined the Navy in January 1829. On 12 June 1834, he was promoted to the rank of Midshipman at Baltimore, Maryland, and assigned to the schooner Jersey to work on the coastal survey. In October 1840, John was visiting family in Charleston when he was promoted to Lieutenant and ordered to join the brig Consort on a mission to survey the coast of Florida.
In 1842 John was involved in an incident that led to his court martial. That December, John was serving on the ship Vandalia when it arrived at Newport, Rhode Island. Returning from service on the west coast of Africa, where it had been "protecting our mercantile marine on the coast of Africa from the violations of British cruisers," the Vandalia was crippled by gales and prevented from entering the harbor at New York City. With supplies running short, the crew had been on half allowances since the Vandalia left Cape Palmas, Africa, 57 days earlier. By the time it arrived at Newport, "more than a third of her crew [were] ill, and scarcely any part fit for duty." The officers of the Vandalia were called before the Navy General Court Martial at Norfolk, Virginia. In July 1843, Commander William Ramsey was suspended without pay for six months, two Midshipmen were punished, and John was acquitted of the charges.
John married Emily Jane Stark at Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday, 7 February 1843. She was the youngest daughter of the late Robert B. Stark, a naval surgeon. The marriage must have taken place while John was awaiting court martial for the Vandalia incident.
After his acquittal at court matrial, John next served on the schooner Pheonix, which sailed to Chagres, France, with dispatches for the Pacific Squadron. He then served on the sloop-of-war Saratoga, which visited Rio de Janiero and Cape Horn between 1845 and 1847, and the ship St. Louis which visited Rio de Janiero, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo from 1848 to 1851.
John ended his career with tours on the frigate Savannah and the sloop-of-war St. Mary's between 1851 and 1855. In 1855, Congress ordered a reorganization of the Navy and many senior officers were released. John was dropped from the Navy in October 1855, his service totaling 26 years and 9 months, including 15 years and 2 months of sea duty.
Final Years, 1855-1861
There is no clear information about John's life after he left the Navy in 1855. He and Emily may have returned to Virginia. Civil War records mention a John L. Ring who joined McCreary's South Carolina Infantry at Richmond, Virginia, in 1861, before transferring to the Confederate States Navy, but the dates of service are not consistent with the date of John's death. According to a newspaper report, John L. Ring of Charleston died of heart disease at New Orleans, Louisiana, on 30 Apr 1861.
There is a need for more research in census and military records to clarify what became of John and Emily. This work could also shed light on John's birth date.