About Lt. Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander Moreau Forrest, Courtesy of Maryland Historical Society

Moreau Forrest (January 29, 1841), MD—November 24, 1866, Santa Cruz, West Indies; USN). Forrest was appointed an acting USN midshipman on September 22, 1858, and was immediately ordered to the US Naval Academy. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he left Annapolis to serve the Union on the Atlantic blockade. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on August 1, 1862, and, from that time on, sent two-thirds of his pay to his mother, widowed in 1852.

In January, 1863, Forrest became executive officer of the experimental ironclad Keokuk, which was sunk off Charleston, S.C. in April. In July, he became SABS flag lieutenant, remaining in that post until October 1864 when he was ordered to assume command of the USMS 11th District in Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee’s “Brown-water navy,” headquartered at Chattanooga, TN. With his flag in the General Burnside (No. 63), he received considerable commendation for the handling of the four-tinclad Upper Tennessee flotilla during the December 1864-January 1865 Nashville campaign. Once his Western unit was demobilized in the spring of 1865, Forrest returned east where he taught Mathematics briefly at the US Naval Academy and then was was posted to the North Atlantic Squadron in February 1866 and promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander on July 25. — [Civil War Biographies from the Western Waters…pg. 80, by Myron J. Smith, Jr.]

Moreau died at sea of yellow fever while serving on board the USS Florida. Date of death was 24 November 1866 at the east end of Santa Cruz. He was buried at sea on the same day.

Moreaus parents were Moreau Forrest, Sr. (1805-1852)—died 23 May 1852 at San Francisco—and Mary Leeke Dashiell (1807-1899). Mary was born in Baltimore, Maryland to Mary Leeke and Captain Henry Dashiell. In 1827 she married ship captain Matthew Robinson and had three children. After her husband died in 1833, Mary  remarried (1838) to Dr. Moreau Forrest. Moreau (Jr.) had one sister, Eliza D. Forrest (b. 1836); he had three half-siblings—Mary, Matthew, and Louisa Robinson, children by his mother’s first marriage.

Biographical Note

The Forrest family resided across Maryland, including in Baltimore and Finksburg. Moreau Forrest, Sr., grew up in Montgomery County at Chateau Blanc. He attended University of Maryland Medical School and graduated in 1826. He married Mary Leeke Dashiell Robinson in 1835. Mary was born to Mary Leeke and Captain Henry Dashiell in 1808 and grew up in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore City.

Mary had been previously been married to Matthew Robinson, a ship captain, who died in 1833. They had several children together. Mary’s son with Robinson, Matthew, began studying at New Ark College, in 1834, which later became University of Delaware.

In 1841, Moreau, Mary, and their youngest children moved to Finksburg where Moreau worked as a general physician for patients in Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Moreau eventually gave up his medical practice and was appointed United States Marshal for the State of Maryland in 1844. He often traveled to the Western states for his work and was involved in the George P. Reed versus Samuel Carusi copyright case. He was a marshal until 1850, and he died in 1852 in California.

Mary and Moreau’s son, Moreau Forrest, 1841-1866, also had a distinguished career. He attended the United States Naval Academy. During the Civil War, Moreau fought for the Union cause. He was reassigned to the Mississippi River Squadron and commanded the U.S.S. General Thomas. The steamship patrolled the Tennessee River to prevent interference with General William Tecumseh Sherman’s march on Atlanta, Georgia, and engaged in several battles with Confederate forces. He died shortly after the end of the war in 1866 but was well-remembered for his service to the United States. [Maryland Historical Society]

The following are four of Moreau Forrest’s “report cards” from his days at the Naval Academy. We see that he excelled in Grammar, Mathematics, and French.

House of Representatives
January 19, 1859

Dear Sir,

I return you the reports of the Superintendent in your case and beg to congratulate you upon the good position you have now in your class. Do not let anything divert you from your studies and make up your mind to be first in everything. To determine is to succeed.

Very truly your friend, — Morrison Harris