Tattnal, Josiah

Tattnal, Josiah

(1795–1871) naval officer; born near Savannah, Ga. While serving in the U.S. Navy (1812–61) he compromised American neutrality by assisting a hard-pressed British squadron in its attack on a Chinese fort (1859). He explained that "blood is thicker than water" and his action was upheld by the U.S. government. As a Confederate naval officer (1861–65) he commanded the coastal defenses of Georgia and South Carolina and gave the order for the CSS Virginia to be burned rather than allow her to fall into Northern hands.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.