George Dewey was Admiral of the Navy, the only person in United States history to have attained that rank. He is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War, with the loss of only a single crewman on the American side.
Dewey was born in Montpelier, Vermont. At age 15, Dewey's father enrolled him at Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont. Two years later Norwich expelled him for drunkenness and herding sheep into the barracks. Summarily, he entered the United States Naval Academy in 1854. He graduated from the academy in 1858 and was assigned as the executive lieutenant of the USS Mississippi at the beginning of the Civil War. He participated in the capture of New Orleans and the Siege of Port Hudson, helping the Union take control of the Mississippi River. By the end of the war, Dewey reached the rank of lieutenant commander.
After the Civil War, Dewey undertook a variety of assignments, serving on multiple ships and as an instructor at the Naval Academy. He also served on the United States Lighthouse Board and the Board of Inspection and Survey.