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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Annapolis in Anne Arundel County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Commander William Lewis Herndon

1813 - 1857

 

—Naval Officer - Explorer - Merchant Captain —

 
Commander William Lewis Herndon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., March 15, 2008
1. Commander William Lewis Herndon Marker
Inscription. In command of the Central America, home-bound with California Gold seekers, Captain Herndon lost his life in a gallant effort to save ship and lives during a cyclone off Hatteras, September 12, 1857

"Forgetful of self, in his death he added a new glory to the annals of the sea." - Maury
 
Erected 1860.
 
Location. 38° 58.938′ N, 76° 29.152′ W. Marker is in Annapolis, Maryland, in Anne Arundel County. Marker is on Blake Road, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is located on the grounds of the United States Naval Academy, across Blake Road from the Academy Chapel. A picture ID is required to enter the Academy grounds. Marker is in this post office area: Annapolis MD 21402, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. One Hundredth Anniversary of the U.S. Naval Academy (within shouting distance of this marker); Zimmerman Bandstand (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Fashioned Anchors (within shouting distance of this marker); On this spot (within shouting distance of this marker); Joseph Nicholson Home Site and Bandstand
Herndon Monument image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., March 15, 2008
2. Herndon Monument
This side carries the date, September 12, 1857, when the S.S. Central America sank off Hatteras.
(within shouting distance of this marker); Spanish 18-Pounder (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); San Cayetano (about 300 feet away); St. Joseph (about 300 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Annapolis.
 
More about this marker. Herndon Monument is the site of the traditional "plebes-no-more" ceremony, where the plebes (first year students at the academy) use teamwork to climb the greased monument and replace a plebe "dixie-cup hat" on top with an upper-class midshipman hat, signifying the official end of their plebe year.

The Midshipman who replaces the dixie cup hat is traditionally given a pair of Admiral's shoulder boards. Legend says that he or she will be the first of his or her class to make Flag Rank although, in reality, this has never proven true.
 
Regarding Commander William Lewis Herndon. Herndon Monument commemorates Commander William Lewis Herndon, who went down with the mail steamer Central America in a storm off South Carolina in 1857. After making every possible effort to save the ship, Herndon left the quarterdeck long enough to don his full dress uniform, in which he returned
Commander William Lewis Herndon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., March 15, 2008
3. Commander William Lewis Herndon Marker
The Naval Academy Chapel is in the background.
to his post to meet a seaman's death.
 
Also see . . .
1. The U.S. Naval Academy "Plebe Recognition Ceremony" or Herndon Monument Climb. "The Plebe Recognition Ceremony is a tradition which is practiced only at the U.S. Naval Academy. It has no equivalency at the other service academies." (Submitted on April 19, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 

2. AMERICA'S LOST TREASURE, The S.S. Central America. "In a final heroic act, Captain William Lewis Herndon and his crew rescued the women and children by lowering them into lifeboats at the sacrifice of their own lives. The values and beliefs that inspired their industry in life and tenacity in the face of death endure today in a shared American spirit." (Submitted on April 19, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 

3. Plebes Rise To Occasion As Tradition Carries On. An article by Nelson Hernandez, Washington Post Staff Writer, on the Class of 2011's Herndon Climb. A link at the bottom provides a photo gallery of this year's climb. (Submitted on May 18, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. Notable EventsNotable PersonsWaterways & Vessels
 
Class of 2011 Herndon Climb image. Click for full size.
By Pat Sullivan, May 15, 2008
4. Class of 2011 Herndon Climb
Seen in this photo is the teamwork required to scale the Herndon Monument. Only by interlocking their arms to create a ladder for other midshipmen to climb can the plebes hope to complete their mission.
Class of 2011 Herndon Climb. Time 2hr 35 min 59 sec. image. Click for full size.
By Pat Sullivan, May 15, 2008
5. Class of 2011 Herndon Climb. Time 2hr 35 min 59 sec.
The Herndon climb was freighted with special meaning this year, for both hats belonged to Kristen Dickmann, a popular plebe and volleyball player from Pennsylvania who died earlier in the month. In this photo, Greg Reichel, who knew Dickmann well, has just placed her midshipman's hat atop the obelisk.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 4,154 times since then and 45 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.   4, 5. submitted on , by Pat Sullivan of Somerville, Massachusetts. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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