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Lieut. John L. Ring
d.30 Apr 1861 New Orleans, Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Facts and Events
John L. Ring of Charleston, South Carolina, was an officer in the U.S. Navy for twenty-six years. He is identified as a son of David A. Ring in a family letter dated 3 October 1840, but otherwise there is no official record of his parentage.
United States Navy, 1829-1855
John joined the Navy in January 1829. On 12 June 1834, he was promoted to Midshipman at Baltimore, Maryland, and assigned to the schooner Jersey to work on the coastal survey. In October 1840, while visiting family in Charleston, John was promoted to Lieutenant and ordered to join the brig Consort to survey the coast of Florida.
In December 1842, John was serving on the ship Vandalia when it arrived at Newport, Rhode Island. Returning from 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 they left Cape Palmas, Africa, 57 days earlier. By the time the Vandalia arrived at Newport, "more than a third of her crew [were] ill, and scarcely any part fit for duty."
This incident led to a Court Martial for the trial of Commander William Ramsay, Lieutenant Charles H. Poor, Lieutenant John L. Ring, and others from the Vandalia. Convened aboard the U.S.S. Pennsylvania at Norfolk, Virginia, 25 March 1843, the trial continued for four months. In July 1843 Commander Ramsey was convicted and suspended without pay, and two Midshipmen were punished, but Lieutenants Poor and Ring were both acquitted.
On Tuesday, 7 February 1843, while awaiting court martial, John L. Ring married Emily Jane Stark at Norfolk, Virginia. She was the youngest daughter of the late Robert B. Stark, a naval surgeon, and the sister-in-law of Charles H. Poor, John's comrade from the Vandalia.
After his acquittal, 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.