Cadwalader Ringgold - Other Expeditions

Other Expeditions

Ringgold was promoted to commander on July 16, 1849 and began the definitive survey of the San Francisco Bay region, suddenly important because of the discovery of gold in the area. The survey began in August 1849, with Ringgold commanding the chartered brig Col. Fremont.

After the California surveys, Ringgold helped Navy officials pick a location for a dockyard for the Navy's Pacific station. It later became the Mare Island Navy Yard. Together with Commodore Matthew Perry and others, Ringgold served in August 1852 on the Board of Examination for midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis.

It may have been around this time that Ringgold acquired a bust of Whig politician Henry Clay, presumably out of admiration.

In 1853 he took command of the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition, also known as the Rodgers-Ringgold Expedition, but while on the expedition, in July 1854, he became sick with malaria and was sent home, according to at least one source. Nathaniel Philbrick, in his book Sea of Glory about the U.S. Exploring Expedition, writes that in the later expedition Ringgold "began to act strangely" once in China, keeping his ships in port "ceaselessly repairing his vessels". Commodore Perry, on his own expedition, sailed in and convened an official panel which relieved Ringgold from command of the expedition and sent him home. Philbrick quotes Perry as declaring Ringgold "insane." John Rodgers was given full command of the expedition and completed it.

A board of naval doctors convened by Perry declared Ringgold unfit for active service, and he was put on the reserve list on September 13, 1855. Ringgold recovered within weeks, however, and soon petitioned Congress for his return. Unsuccessful there, he appealed to a Court of Inquiry, and eventually succeeded in returning to the active list on January 23, 1858, (retroactive to April 2, 1856), a campaign of more than two years.

For the next several years, he was in Washington, D.C., working on the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition charts, some of which were later used by the U. S. Navy in World War II (charts from the United States Exploring Expedition were also used in that war).

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