Hugh Swinton Legare

Namesake of the LEGARE

Coast Guard Cutter LEGARE is named after Hugh Swinton Legare the 16th Attorney General of the United States. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 2, 1797, he graduated from the College of South Carolina in 1814. For the next three years he studied law, then traveled in Europe, studying French in Paris, Roman law, philosophy, math and chemistry in Edinborough. Upon his return to South Carolina in 1820, he was elected to the South Carolina State Legislature. He served until 1822, and from 1824 to 1830 when he was elected State attorney general. In 1832, he was Charge d'Affaires at Brussels. Upon his return to the United States, he was elected to Congress. He served from 1837 until 1839. President Tyler appointed him Attorney General of the United States in 1841. He died in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 20, 1843, while attending ceremonies at the unveiling of the Bunker Hill Monument.
    The first steam propulsion cutter to serve in the Revenue Cutter Service was named LEGARE. Equipped with the then new experimental Ericcson 6-bladed propeller (instead of the proven paddle wheel) and displacing 360 tons, this 140-foot long cutter with an iron hull could readily make nine knots.
    R. and G.L. Schuyler of New York built LEGARE in 1843. It was placed in service May 1844 under the command of Captain H. B. Nones, a well-known officer who also carried the Revenue Cutter FORWARD heroically into action in several Mexican War battles.
In May 1846, LEGARE, one of eleven revenue cutters assigned to cooperate with the Army and Navy during the Mexican War, was used as a dispatch boat. It assisted in towing, blockading, and transporting troops and ammunition to various ports in the Gulf of Mexico. During this period the LEGARE remained under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department. In 1847 it was transferred to the Coast Survey.

    The second LWMEC-144 LEGARE, a patrol craft of the 125-foot class, was designed to enforce Prohibition. Built by the American Brown Boveri Electrical Corporation of Camden, New Jersey, and commissioned on March 17, 1927, it patrolled out of New London, Connecticut. In 1929, the LEGARE pursued and seized a rumrunner, the Flor Del Mar, which was promptly abandoned by its crew. The forsaken schooner was then towed to New London. The LEGARE also conducted countless rescues during its service career while patrolling the Gulf Coast.

     On November 1, 1941, in accordance with an Executive Order, LEGARE began to operate as part of the U. S. Navy. Operating in inland and East Coast waters, it tended lighthouses, buoys, and other navigational aids while serving on patrol and rescue duty. During World War II, while stationed at Norfolk, Virginia, it hunted enemy submarines in the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea. On March 10, 1942, LEGARE was informed that contact had been made with a German submarine eight miles south of Hatteras. It immediately proceeded to the area, made contact, attacked, and deployed all eight depth charges on board. Oil, debris, and air bubbles surfaced, but verification of a hit was not confirmed, even though captured documents were examined following the war's conclusion.

     LEGARE was then transferred to patrol and convoy escort duty under the Caribbean Sea Frontier Command, and served valiantly in the area until the end of hostilities. Executive Order returned the LEGARE to the Treasury Department on January 1, 1946 and it served as a rescue vessel and buoy tender for many years. LEGARE was redesignated WMEC-144 in 1966 and served our country with honor until 1968.