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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.
Photographed 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.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Lost at Sea series list. A significant historical date for this entry is September 12, 1857.
 
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. 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. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Annapolis MD 21402, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. SS Central America Bell (a few steps from this marker); One Hundredth Anniversary of the U.S. Naval Academy
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(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 (within shouting distance of this marker); Spanish 18-Pounder (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); San Cayetano (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map 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.
Commander William Lewis Herndon Memorial Obelisk Detail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Howard C. Ohlhous, November 7, 2018
2. Commander William Lewis Herndon Memorial Obelisk Detail
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 to his post to meet a seaman's death.
 
Additional keywords. California Gold Rush
 
Herndon Monument image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., March 15, 2008
3. Herndon Monument
This side carries the date, September 12, 1857, when the S.S. Central America sank off Hatteras.
Commander William Lewis Herndon Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., March 15, 2008
4. Commander William Lewis Herndon Marker
The Naval Academy Chapel is in the background.
Class of 2011 Herndon Climb image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Pat Sullivan, May 15, 2008
5. 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.
Photographed By Pat Sullivan, May 15, 2008
6. 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 was last revised on August 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 19, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 4,881 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on April 19, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.   2. submitted on November 9, 2018, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.   3, 4. submitted on April 19, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.   5, 6. submitted on May 18, 2008, by Pat Sullivan of Somerville, Massachusetts.

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Apr. 20, 2024