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American naval officer and author, b. in Brown County, Ohio, 15 May, 1820; d. in Washington, D.C., 11 July, 1898. His father, a soldier of the War of 1812, migrated to Ohio from Virginia. He was appointed midshipman, 7 July, 1834, and ordered to West Point, where he studied for three months, under his brother Jacob Ammen, later a brigadier general in the United States Army. After serving at sea for several years, he was sent to the Naval School, then near Philadelphia. He was appointed lieutenant 4 November, 1849, and became rear admiral 11 December, 1877. During the Civil War, he was engaged in blockade duty with Admiral Dupont's fleet. He was chief of the Bureau of Yards and Docks from 1 May, 1869, to 1 October, 1871, and chief of the Bureau of Navigation from 1 October, 1871, until his retirement, 4 June, 1878. He devoted much time to work on harbour defences, and designed the ram Katahdin, also the "Ammen balsa," or life-raft, used in the navy. In 1872 he was appointed member of a commission to examine and report on the feasibility of constructing a canal through Nicaragua. The commission reported in favour of the Nicaraguan route, which he strongly advocated. In 1879, he was sent as a delegate to a congress in Paris to discuss Isthmian canal questions. He also served on the board for the location of the new Naval Observatory. After his retirement he purchased a farm twelve miles from Washington, at a station named in his honour Ammendale, the seat of the Normal School of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, where through his generosity St. Joseph's church was built. Among his works are "The Atlantic Coast" (New York, 1883); "Recollections of Grant" (1885); "The Old Navy and the New" (autobiographical) (Philad., 1891); "Country Homes and Their Improvements"; "Fallacies of the Interoceanic Transit Questions," and various contributions to current literature.
MILTON E. SMITH