Did any American Indians serve in the naval war?


Jun 14, 2021
Prior to the Civil War I know that New England whaling ships sometimes hired local American Indians as crew, so by 1861 there would have been at least some guys with maritime experience. Do we know if any American Indians, from anywhere in the country, served in the naval forces of either the USA or CSA during the Civil War, whether at sea or on the riverine flotillas? If so, I'd be curious to know what tribes/nations the sailors came from and any details about their service.


Sergeant Major
Dec 5, 2019
It can be difficult to determine exactly who was a native American because they often were described in records as "colored" (etc.). In 1798 the Secretary of the Navy (Benjamin Stoddard) ruled that "no negroes or mulatoes" should serve in the navy--a regulation often ignored. I can give you some specific names from Stonington (& North Stonington), Connecticut:
Rensailer Babcock (1864, transferred from land forces to USN at Hampton Roads); Malbro Gardner (Pequot) on "USS Stars and Stripes"; Dwight Gardner (likely a relative of Malbro's), "landsman"; Simeon Simons (Pequot, enlisted in New Bedford MA and served on the "Warmsutta".

These names came from an article in the New England Quarterly (12/2008):
From Mashantucket to Appomattox: The Native American Veterans of Connecticut's Volunteer Regiments and the Union Navy
by David J. Naumec