Civil War Blog

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Admiral William G. Buehler of Harrisburg

Posted By on June 25, 2012

William G. Buehler (1837-1919)

William George Buehler retired as a Rear Admiral from the United States Navy after a long career which spanned the Civil War period.  Although he had no direct connection to Gratz or the Lykens Valley area, his brother Henry B. Buehler, served for a short time as a physician in Gratz before the Civil War before he moved to Harrisburg to eventually take over the father’s insurance business.  Henry B. Buehler has been featured on several prior posts on this blog including Death of Dr.Henry B. Buehler, Death of Widow of Henry Buehler, and in the series of post on the erection of the Dauphin County Civil War Monument.

The following articles tell of the life and career of Rear Admiral William George Buehler:


Journal of Commerce Reviews Admiral Buehler’s Life in Service


The Journal of Commerce, Philadelphia, in the issue of 30 March, contains an interesting sketch of Rear Admiral George Buehler, a former Harrisburg boy.  Born in Philadelphia in 1844, the Admiral came to this city at the age of 7 and was educated in the private schools.

The Journal of Commerce says:

As the [sic] continue this series of natal day notes of eminent Philadelphians we take pleasure this week in extending greetings to a widely-known officer of the United States Navy, Rear Admiral George Buehler, retired, who on Monday 25 March reached another milestone in the pathway of life and received the congratulations of many friends upon the splendid preservation of his health and the retention in their youthful vigor of all those cases in life and the enjoyment of its pleasured.

Entire Life to Country

Practically the whole of Admiral Buehler’s adult life has been given to the service of his country in the United States Navy.  He was born in Philadelphia and in 1844, when only seven years old, removed to Harrisburg, where he was educated in the private schools.  In 1857, when he was 10 years old, he entered the Navy as third assistant engineer.  In October 1861, he was promoted to second assistant engineer and a year later to first assistant engineer.  On 10 November 1863 he was made chief engineer.  At the time of the laying of the first Atlantic cable he was an officer on the U.S.S. Frigate Niagara and received a medal from the New York Chamber of Commerce for services rendered on that great work.

Admiral Buehler served with distinction through the Civil War.  He was chief engineer of the U.S.S. Aroostook, in 1861-1862 and of the U.S.S. Galena, 1863-1965.  He was present and took part in the attacks on James River and Fort Darling.  He was with Farragut when he ran the forts at the entrance of Mobile Bay and the subsequent reduction of Forts Powell, Gaines and Morgan.  He continued as engineer on various ships until 1888.  For four years he was a member of the United States Naval Board of Inspection and was twice a member of the United States Examining Board of Naval engineers.

Retired in 1899

On 4 Jun 1894, Admiral Buehler was promoted to captain and placed in charge of the department of steam engineering at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire, where he continued over four years.  On 25 March 1899, he was retired as a Rear Admiral of the United States Navy,  Admiral Buehler’s record in the Navy is a clean, untarnished page, of which any man might well be proud.  He always followed where duty called without faltering, and his example in many trying engagements was an inspiration to his companions just as this record will be inspiration to the young men of our day.

Admiral Buehler is a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, the Society of Colonial Wars, the Sons of the Revolution and the Military Order of Foreign Wars; also of Union League and Rittenhouse Club.  He has the Civil War Medal conferred by Act of Congress upon officer who served with distinction during the war.  He was authorized to have engraved upon the rim of the medal the names of the ships upon which he served during the war, which he has done.  Since his retirement he lived quietly in his beautiful home at 124 South 17th Street, Philadelphia, where he enjoys the companionship of old friends and takes pleasure in recounting the scenes and incidents of his naval career.

We cheerfully join in extending congratulations on this auspicious occasion, and take pleasure in admitting him to the company of those other Philadelphians who have honored this Birthday Series.  Although having reached the three-quarter century mark., Admiral Buehler is strong and well-preserved and can outfoot some of the younger men.  We sincerely trust  life’s shadows may lengthen slowly for him and that for many years the community may have the inspiration of his personal presence and the benefit of his wise counsel. [Harrisburg Patriot, 22 April 1912].


Rear-Admiral William George Buehler, United States Navy, died on Sunday evening at his summer home at Haverford.  Admiral Buehler was born 25 March 1837, and during his early boyhood his parent moved to this city where he received his education.

He is surived by his widow, who was Miss Carolyn Rogers; two sisters, Mrs. Robert A. Lamberton and Mrs. George Douglas Ramsay, both of this city, and a brother Edward H. Buehler.

At the age of twenty Buehler left this city to join the Navy.  He enlisted in the United States Navy as a third assistant engineer.  He was promoted to chief engineer in 1863, captain in 1894, and retired with the rank of rear-admiral 25 March 1899.

He was an officer of the United States frigate Niagara when it assisted in laying the first Atlantic telegraph.  For this service he received a gold medal from the New York Chamber of Commerce. [Harrisburg Patriot,  2 August 1919].

Civil war ships on which William G. Buheler served were the U.S.S. Aroostock which was built for the Union Navy during the Civil War in order to patrol navigable waters to prevent the Confederacy from engaging in international commerce and the U.S.S Galena, also built during the Civil War, but as an ironclad.  Images of both ships are available on Wikipedia, the U.S.S. Aroostock photo being in the public domain (shown below), but the U.S.S Galena photo is under license (click here to go to Wikipedia to see the photo).

U.S.S. Aroostock

A previous blog article on the role of the Navy in the Civil War was presented as part of the series on the Photographic History of the Civil WarThe Navies.  The photograph of Rear Admiral Buehler is from a family history file at the Gratz Historical Society.  News articles are from the on-line resources of the Free Library of Philadelphia.


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