New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy Mrs Gustavus Fox, a

New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy
The Strange Legacy of the Name of the Kearsarge
(Extracted from The Pride Of Portsmouth by William Marvel, NHHS
Spring/Summer 1986)
At the start of the war the Navy Department had determined to
christen new vessels with names that were exclusively American;
hence a number of Indian names began to appear.
Gideon Welles
Secretary of the Navy
Administration officials and theirs wives were invited to submit
names. Mrs. Gideon Welles proposed the Junita after the river along
which she was born.
New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy
Mrs Gustavus Fox, a daughter of a New Hampshire Senator
wished to name a ship the Kearsarge after the 3268 Mt just North of
Conway, where she has summered.
For fourteen years there was no question until along comes Henry
McFarland, wrote a letter to Gideon Welles claiming he had suggested the
name to Gideon Welles and it was the Mt. Kearsarge in Warner.
New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy
The Reverend Nathaniel Boutin, President of the New Hampshire
Historical Society and an advocate of the Warner Mountain of the
same name enlisted the aid of several legislators to officially rename
the Carroll County mountain, Mt. Pequawket.
In a moment of high drama reminiscent of a movie Boutin was
addressing the legislature on the subject that it was not Mrs. Fox
who had named the ship when he was interrupted by Albert Hatch
who produced from his pocket a letter written by Gideon Welles in
which he defended Mrs. Fox claim that since she was a New
Hampshire native and was aware that there were two mountains of
the same name she surely knew which mountain she was referring
Gustavus Vasa Fox
Under Secretary of the Navy
New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy
Gustavus Fox did more by finding even more evidence to support
his wife’s claim so that on April 11, 1877 he presented the
information to the Appalachian Mountain Club that confirmed
there were indeed two mountains of the same name.
The Reverend Boutin was irate and formed a committee that
included Fox but was stacked with Boutin’s cronies.
New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy
Not too surprisingly the conclusion of the committee was that the
ship was named after the Warner Mountain.
To rub salt in the wounds Henry McFarland reemerged to claim
that Fox was guilty of fraud in misrepresenting the Conway
The controversy subsided only to emerge again in 1915 when the US
Senate investigated on behalf of the United States Geographic
Board. By this time Welles was dead as was Fox.
New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy
Part of the testimony was a letter from Reverend Gilmore, son of
the Civil War Governor who said that his father had been asked to
submit a list of names to the Navy Department and on that list was
the Mt Kearsarge in Warner that Gilmore could see from his home
in Pennacook. No one thought to question the validity of this since
Gilmore did not take office until two years after the Kearsarge was
New Hampshire and the Civil war Navy
Throughout it all the Navy has been unaware
of the major controversy that went on for several decades
down to the present day and it officially recognizes the
Mountain in Warner as the one for which the ship was named.