Henry Walke, the artist and famous Naval officer, was born in Princess Anne County, Virginia, on December 24, 1808. His family moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, when he was two and that is where he was educated. On February 1, 1827, he entered the United States Navy as a midshipman. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1839. During the Mexican War, he served as the executive officer of the Bomb Brig Vesuvius which was assigned to the Gulf Squadron under Commodore Matthew C. Perry and participated in the capture of Vera Cruz, Tobasco, Tuxpan, and Alvarado. In February 1861 then Commander Walke received a General Court-Martial at Brooklyn, NY. He was the Captain of the United States Storeship Supply which was in Pensacola, Florida with orders to join the squadron of Commodore Prendergest at Vera Cruz. Inside of following these orders, he evacuated Union soldiers, sailors and civilians to Brooklyn where he was promptly court-martialed and convicted of charges associated with disobeying the order to go to Vera Cruz. The sentence of the court-martial was an admonition. The court-martial conviction had little adverse impact on his career. He was prompted to Captain in August 1862 and the rank of Rear Admiral in July 1870. Walke was a Union Naval hero in the Civil War and served with great distinction at Forts Henry & Donelson, Fort Pillow, Vicksburg and elsewhere. Later, Walke was dispatched to pursue Confederate cruisers in European waters. He retired from the Navy in April 1871. However, Walke continued an active life as a writer and artist until his death at Brooklyn, New York, in March of 1896.
In 1877 Walke wrote Naval Scenes and Reminiscences of the Civil War. For information on this book, click here. He had also produced Naval Scenes in the Mexican War. Both of these works were particularly distinguished by the fact that he was an accomplished artist and his art work illustrated them. Both of his books are now rare.
Rear Admiral Walke authored a pamphlet titled Private Record of The Walke Family in the United States. While it is undated, it was probably published in 1895 shortly before his death. There is a section in the pamphlet (pages 12-3) where he discusses his life but it has no indication a role in the Perry Expedition to Japan. The pamphlet is discussed here.
Walke is not on the list of officers that were on the Expedition to Japan. Apparently he did not accompany the expedition but did contribute to at least two of the lithographs in the Narrative of the Expedition.
Bay of Wodowara
Walke & Brown
Napha (Okinawa) from the Sea
Walke & Heine
Captain Henry Walke, USN
Photograph taken circa 1863-66
(Source: U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph)
Henry Walke's Classic Naval Lithograph Portfolio. Perhaps the rarest American Naval print series was created by then Lieutenant Walke. It is a series of eight plates depicting Naval actions in the Mexican War in the Spring and Summer of 1847. Walke served in the war as the second in command of the U.S.S. Vesuvius, a bomb brig of the Gulf Squadron. During the war the Vesuvius participated in the blockade Laguna and supported landings at Tuxpan and Tabasco.
After serving for eight months on the Vesuvius, Walke returned to the United States in October 1847 and went on extended leave until September of 1848. He immediately began work on his Naval lithograph portfolio and it was completed during this period.
All of the lithographs were after original art by Walke. He personally rendered five of them onto the lithograph stones. Numbers 1, 3, 4, 5 & 7 were executed by Walke onto the lithograph stones. The others (Nos. 2, 6 & 8) were executed on the lithograph stones by others but based upon Walke's original art.
"Naval Portfolio No. 1~8" is stated at the top of each lithograph. There is also a line of text in smaller print reading "Naval Scenes in the Mexican War by H. Walke, Lieut. U.S. Navy." The image is surrounded by a thick (2~4 mm wide) frame box. Directly below the image, and within the image frame box, small print text is seen at the left (lithographer - "Sarony & Major"), middle ("Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1847 (1848)....") and to the right the name of the artist who executed the image on lithograph stones ("Executed by H. Walke Lt. U.S.N." etc., or other named artists "after Walke"). At the bottom under the image frame box in large print is the title of the image in double line letters. This is followed by lines of smaller print descriptive text. On some of the lithographs the name and address of the lithographer/publisher ("Published by Sarony & Major, 117 Fulton Street, New York." is stated below the descriptive text.
The plate size of these lithographs is generally 20 3/4 x 26 3/4+ in (53 x 68 cm). The image areas (including the image frame box) vary slightly but generally measure 15~15 1/4 x 21 1/4~22 1/2 in (37.8~38.5 x 53.8~56.8 cm).
The four lithographs that I have examined are tinted lithographs. There are executed in black & white and contain an additional tint color tint. Some of the lithographs may be multi-color (chromolithograph) but I have not personally examined one.
This work is sometimes described as a book. It apparently was issued with a folio case to house the loose lithographs. Complete sets of all eight lithographs are rarely seen. Even single lithographs are seldom seen and generally in poor condition. The Library of Congress on-line exhibit titled "Pictorial America" contains all 8 of these lithographs.
Available for Purchase.
- Naval Portfolio, No 1 (The U.S. Steam Frigate Mississippi, Comre. M.C. Perry), click here. Price on Request.
- Naval Portfolio, No 3 (The U. States Steamers, Scorpion, Spitfire, Vixen and Scourge), click here. Price on Request.
- Naval Portfolio, No 4 (The Attack of the Mexicans from the Chapperal), click here. Price on Request.
- Naval Portfolio, No 7 (The Capture of the City of Tabasco), click here. Price on Request.
The individual prints in the Naval Portfolio are as follows:
No. 1. "The U.S. Steam Frigate Mississippi, Comre. M.C. Perry."
"Going out to the relief of the American Steamer Hunter & French Bark [her prize] and an American Pilot Boat wrecked on Green Island reef near Vera Cruize March 21st. 1847." "Executed by H. Walke Lt. U.S.N."
No. 2. The U.S. Naval Expedition under Comore. M.C. Perry, ascending the Tuxpan River. Drawn on stone by J. Vollmering, after Walke. After the fall of Vera Cruz, Perry moved to control the last important Mexican port on the Gulf Coast not under his control. This was achieved on April 18-22, 1847. Walke's print shows the vessels of Perry's squadron proceeding upriver towards the town of Tuxpan.
No. 3. "The U. States Steamers, Scorpion, Spitfire, Vixen and Scourge; With 40 Barges in Tow, Crossing the Bar at the Mouth of Tobasco River, (Mexico.)"
"Comore. M.C. Perry in Command. Supported by the Commands, of Captains J. Mayo, S.L.Breeze, F. Forrest. Commanders Wm. J. Mc Cluney, A. Bigelow, F. Buchanan, H.A. Adams, A.S. Mackenzie, G.A. Magruder, G.J. Van Brunt. Lieuts. Commanding S.S. Lee, S. Lockwood and J.M. Berrien. June. 14th. 1847." "Designed and Drawn on Stone by H. Walke, Lt. U.S.N." This is the first print of five devoted to Perry's Tabasco River expedition.
No. 4. "The Attack of the Mexicans from the Chapperal, on the first Division of the Naval Expedition to Tabasco (Mexico.)"
"Consisting of the U.S. Steamer Scorpion Comore. Perry. Capt. Breese and Comaer. Bigelo Bomb Brig Vesuvius. Comaer.Magruder. Brig Washington, Lieut. Comaer. S.S. Lee. With a Detachment of Seamen and Marines in Barges from the Steam Frigate Mississippi; Under, Comaer. Mackenzie and H.A. Adams, Marines Comanded by Capt. Edson." "Designed and Drawn on Stone by H. Walke, Lt. U.S.N."
The Tabasco expedition met with stiff resistance, and this print shows the ships under heavy fire from the forests on both sides of the Tabasco River, while the Americans pour broadsides into the banks.
No. 5. The Naval Expedition under Comre. Perry, Ascending the Tabasco River at the Devils Bend, June 14, 1847. By and after Walke. This print provides a panoramic view of most of the ships of the expedition, under steam and tow.
No. 6. The Landing of the Naval Expedition, against Tabasco. Drawn on stone by Volmering & Davignon, after Walke. This plate shows one of the earliest amphibious assaults launched by American forces, as the Marines with the expedition were unloaded near the city of Villahermosa.
No. 7. "The Capture of the City of Tabasco, By the U.S. Naval Expedition, Afloat and on Shore, Under Comore. M.C. Perry."
"and the destruction of Fort, Mounting three long 26 pounders,' with other heavy guns, by the U.S. Steamers Scorpion, Comer. Bigelow. Steamer Spitfire, Lieut Coming. S.S. Lee, and Schooner Bonita, Liut. Coming. Berrian. June 15th. 1847. Published by Sarony & Major 117 Fulton St. N. York." "Designed and Drawn on Stone by H. Walke, Lieut. of U.S.N. New York"
No. 8. The U.S. Naval Battery during the Bombardment of Vera Cruz on the 24 and 25 of March 1847. Drawn on stone by P. Fau [sic.], after Walke.