Lest We Forget

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)

When the two men parted ways some weeks later, Lea told Porter, "I shall never see you again, for I feel that I have but a short time to stay here." The young officer was unfortunately prescient.

That fall, after Union forces took Galveston, the Harriet Lane was one of the ships guarding the harbor when Confederate forces, under Confederate Major General John MacGruder, mounted a counterattack to recapture the island city. Several river-steamers, loaded with Confederate troops and protected by piles of cotton bales, attacked the Union ship. She proved no match for the "cottonclads." After several murderous volleys, no one was left standing on her decks. Her captain had been killed in the first volley, and soon thereafter her executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Lea, was also cut down.

As fate would have it, General MacGruder had dispatched one of his staff officers to monitor the engagement from the roof of one of the taller buildings in Galveston. Observing the clear Confederate victory, the officer went to the waterfront in the aftermath and boarded the captured Harriet Lane .

There, Major Albert Miller Lea found his son Edward bleeding from several gunshot wounds. In contrast to his earlier words, the elder Lea showed great concern and hurriedly went in search of medical attention for his son. While his father was gone, Edward's surviving shipmates and several of the Confederate soldiers asked if they could do anything to ease his pain. But the young man declined, repeatedly saying only, "My father is here." Before Major Lea could return, however, his son died.

With a large contingent of Confederate soldiers and Union prisoners in attendance, Edward Lea was laid to rest at Trinity Episcopal Cemetery in Galveston. Today, his last words can still be read on the weathered tombstone marking his grave: "My father is here."

Lieutenant Commander Cutler is the author of several books, including A Sailor's History of the U.S Navy and Brown Water, Black Berets .

Thomas J. Cutler is a retired lieutenant commander and former gunner's mate second class who served in patrol craft, cruisers, destroyers, and aircraft carriers. His varied assignments included an in-country Vietnam tour, small craft command, and nine years at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Seamanship & Navigation Department and Associate Chairman of the History Department. While at the Academy, he was awarded the William P. Clements Award for Excellence in Education (military teacher of the year).

He is the founder and former Director of the Walbrook Maritime Academy in Baltimore. Currently he is Fleet Professor of Strategy and Policy with the Naval War College and is the Director of Professional Publishing at the U.S. Naval Institute.

Winner of the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Naval Literature, the U.S. Naval Institute Press Author of the Year, and the U.S. Maritime Literature Award, his published works include NavCivGuide: A Handbook for Civilians in the U.S. Navy; A Sailor's History of the U.S. Navy [one of the books in the Chief of Naval Operations Reading Program]; The Battle of Leyte Gulf; Brown Water, Black Berets: Coastal & Riverine Warfare in Vietnam; and the 22nd, 23rd (Centennial), and 24th editions of The Bluejacket's Manual. His other works include revisions of Jack Sweetman's The Illustrated History of the U.S. Naval Academy and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. He and his wife, Deborah W. Cutler, are the co-editors of the Dictionary of Naval Terms and the Dictionary of Naval Abbreviations.

His books have been published in various forms, including paperback and audio, and have appeared as main and alternate selections of the History Book Club, Military Book Club, and Book of the Month Club. He has served as a panelist, commentator, and keynote speaker on military and writing topics at many events and for various organizations, including the Naval History and Heritage Command, Smithsonian Institution, the Navy Memorial, U.S. Naval Academy, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. Naval Institute, Armed Forces Electronics Communications and Electronics Association, Naval War College, Civitan, and many veterans' organizations. His television appearances include the History Channel's Biography series, A&E's Our Century, Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, and CBS's 48 Hours.

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Events and Conferences

Guest Lecturer
12:30pm, “Shifley Lecture Series,” U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, MD /... Read More
Videotape Interview
10:00am, “Veterans Oral Histories Series,” American Veterans Center, 1100 N. Glebe Rd., Arlington,... Read More


Conferences and Events

Maritime Security Dialogue

Fri, 2016-07-08

You are cordially invited to: Delivering on the Vision for the Future of Submarine Warfare A discussion with Rear Admiral Charles...

2016 Naval History Conference

WEST 2017

San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA

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