See biography by C. L. Lewis (1929).
Franklin Buchanan (September 13, 1800—May 11, 1874) was an officer in the United States Navy who became an admiral in the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War, and commanded the ironclad CSS Virginia.
Over the four and a half decades of his U.S. Navy service, Buchanan had extensive and worldwide sea duty. He commanded the sloops of war Vincennes and Germantown during the 1840s and the steam frigate Susquehanna in the Perry expedition to Japan during the 1850s.
In 1845-47, he served as the first Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, followed by notable Mexican-American War service. In 1859-61, Captain Buchanan was the Commandant of the Washington Navy Yard. During the Civil War he joined the Confederate forces.
He was the captain of the ironclad CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) during the Battle of Hampton Roads in Virginia. He climbed to the top deck of the Virginia and began furiously firing toward shore with a carbine as the USS Congress was shelled. He soon was brought down by a sharpshooter's minie ball to the thigh. He would eventually recover from his leg wound. He never did get to command the Virginia against the USS Monitor. That honor went to Catesby ap Roger Jones. But Buchanan had handed the United States Navy the worst defeat it would take until Pearl Harbor.
In August 1862, Buchanan was promoted to the rank of Admiral and sent to command Confederate naval forces at Mobile Bay, Alabama. He oversaw the construction of the ironclad CSS Tennessee and was on board her during the Battle of Mobile Bay with Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut's Union fleet on 5 August 1864. Wounded and taken prisoner, Admiral Buchanan was not exchanged until February 1865. He was on convalescent leave until the Civil War ended a few months later. Following the conflict, Buchanan lived in Maryland, then was a businessman in Mobile until 1870, when he again took up residence in Maryland. He died there on 11 May 1874. He is buried at the Wye House family plot outside Easton, Maryland.
Three U.S. Navy destroyers have been named in honor of Admiral Franklin Buchanan: Buchanan (DD-131), (DD-484) and (DDG-14). See USS Buchanan for U.S. Navy ships named in his honor. The Superintendent's quarters at the United States Naval Academy is also named the Buchanan House.