John Lorimer Worden was born on March 12, 1818 in Sparta, Mount Pleasant ownship, Westchester County, New York. He became a U.S. Navy Midshipman in 1834 and spent the next several years at sea in the Brazil, Mediterranean and Pacific Squadrons and ashore at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Promoted to more>>
the rank of Lieutenant in 1846, he served in the storeship Southampton off California during the war with Mexico. Later he returned to the Mediterranean in USS Cumberland before making another Naval Observatory tour in 1850-52. During the remainder of the 1850s and into the early 1860s he was assigned to more>>
the Home Squadron and to the New York Navy Yard. As the secession crisis moved toward civil war in early 1861, Lieutenant Worden was sent to Pensacola with secret instructions for the local Naval commander regarding the reinforcement of Fort Pickens. While returning to Washington, D.C., by rail he was more>>
arrested by Southern authorities near Montgomery, Alabama, and held as a prisoner of war for about seven months, an experience that badly damaged his health. Though still ill as a result of his imprisonment, in February 1862, upon resuming active duty, he was given command of the revolutionary ironclad Monitor more>>
and took her into a historic battle with CSS Virginia on March 9, 1862. Receiving serious eye injuries in the action, he had to relinquish command. However, this battle made him a major war hero in the North. While recovering, Worden was promoted to Commander in July 1862. Further promoted to Captain, more>>
He commanded the monitor Montauk during the first months of 1863, bombarding Fort McAllister, Georgia, in January, destroying the privateer Rattlesnake in February and participating in the 7 April 1863 attack on Fort Sumter. Captain Worden spent the remainder of the Civil War on the important duty of supervising the more>>
construction of new ironclads.Following the end of the great conflict, Worden commanded USS Pensacola in the Pacific. He received the rank of Commodore in 1868 and the next year began five years as Superintendant of the U.S. Naval Academy, during which time he was promoted to Rear Admiral. more>>
In 1875-77, Worden commanded the European Squadron. He then had shore duty until retiring from active duty in late 1886. He was married to Olivia Toffey (1820-1903), and she and three of their four children survived him (two sons and two daughters).