|The author at the Mallory grave site.|
Stephen R. Mallory was born in 1811 (or 12 or 13, depending on the source) at Port of Spain on the island of Trinidad, British West Indies. Mallory's mother was Irish and his father was a construction engineer from Connecticut. When he was about a year old, the family moved from Trinidad and eventually settled in Key West, Florida. The young Mallory was educated in a country school near Blakely, Alabama and when he was nine-years-old was sent to a Moravian School in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. His father died and he helped his mother run a boarding house in Key West to make their living. Mallory was made a customs inspector in Key West and then studied law under Judge William Marvin from 1830 to 1834. He was admitted to the Florida bar shortly after completing his studies. Mallory received some naval experience when he commanded a small vessel during the Seminole Wars in the Everglades (1836-1838). The young man married Angela Moreno, a Spanish women from Pensacola, in 1838, He served as a county judge in Monroe County, Florida and again became the customs inspector in Key west in 1845.
Mallory was elected to the Florida state senate in 1850 and appointed chairman of the Naval Affairs Committee.in 1853. Although opposed to secession, he resigned from the Senate January 21, 1861 after Florida left the Union. He used his influence with President Buchanan to prevent U.S. warships from coming to Pensacola and to prevent reinforcements from being sent to the fort there. Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed Mallory Secretary of the Navy on February 25, 1861, He and Postmaster General John H. Reagan were the only two Confederate cabinet members who stayed in their posts for the entirety of the Confederate government. One of his great accomplishments was organizing the training men for the Confederate Navy, and basing promotions on gallant or meritorious service. He also let numerous contracts for building gunboats, cruisers and ironclad ships. Mallory believed building ironclad ships were of the highest priority.
|Stephen Russell Mallory|
(Library of Congress)
Mallory also encouraged the development of underwater mines, then called torpedoes, which caused havoc for the Union Navy. The C.S.S. Hunley, the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship, became a reality during Mallory's tenure. Throughout the war Mallory and his wife were an active and popular part of the social life of Confederate Richmond. At the end of the war he accompanied President Davis in the evacuation of the city and he resigned from the cabinet on May 3, 1865 in Washington, Georgia. He met his family in LaGrange, Georgia where he was arrested by Federal authorities May 20, 1865. Incarcerated at Fort LaFayette in New York Harbor, he was finally released March 10, 1866. Mallory reunited with his family in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the family returned to Pensacola in July of that year. He resumed the practice of law and opposed Radical Reconstruction. Stephen R. Mallory died in his home in Pensacola on November 9, 1873.
|Mallory monument at St. Michael's Cemetery, Pensacola.|
(Photo by author)