Editor’s note: Beginning July 1, 2014, Norfolk District celebrates its 135 anniversary. Stay with us throughout the year as we look back at our former commanders, completed projects and distinguished employees.
Frederick A. Hinman of Bellevue, Michigan attended the United States Military Academy from 1863 to 1867.
After graduation he was promoted to second lieutenant, Corps of Engineers.
Hinman served with the Engineer Battalion at Willet’s Point, NY (now Fort Totten) from 1867 to 1872. However, he detached to survey battlefields from August to October in 1869, during which time he was promoted to first lieutenant.
While in Chicago from 1872 to 1873, he served as an assistant engineer on river and harbor works, followed by a position in Mobile, Alabama from 1873 to 1874, in which he oversaw fortifications, river, harbor and lighthouse works.
His work included overseeing harbor improvements on Lake Superior in 1883, and river and harbor improvements and surveys in North Carolina and South Carolina until his assignment to the United States Engineer Office in Norfolk March 16, 1884, at which time he became the officer in charge of what would later become the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
During his tenure in Norfolk, he was in charge of river and harbor improvements in Virginia and North Carolina. He improved the approach to Norfolk Harbor and the navy yard between Lambert’s Point and Fort Norfolk; according to the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, “Prior to the commencement of this improvement, the harbor proper had much deteriorated by filling up, due to many causes. The project for improvement, which consisted in dredging, was adopted in 1877, and, with slight modifications … resulted in securing a channel having a least width of 200 feet and 25 feet deep at low water.” The project was revised in 1865 to “secure a channel” 25 feet deep and 500 feet wide.
Hinman also worked on the navigation aspects of the Appomattox River, the Nottoway River (which was “snagged” and “obstructed” by logs, overhanging growth, a war blockade and sunken vessels), the Blackwater River, North Landing River and various other rivers in Virginia and North Carolina. He also removed sunken vessels “obstructing or endangering navigation,” including the barge Albemarle near Hog Island lighthouse in Virginia, the schooner Maria and Elizabeth near Cape Charles lighthouse in Virginia, the schooner Tarry Not near Craney Island near the mouth of the Nansemond River, the schooner Anthea Godfrey in “Lynn Haven Roads, Virginia” [sic] (which was destroyed by explosives after having shown the wreck and cargo were valueless), and the steamer Concord, which was burned and sunk in the Pamplico River near Washington, North Carolina.
The captain also served on the engineer boards for improvement of Norfolk and Portsmouth harbors.
Hinman left the Norfolk Office in June of 1887, and went on sick leave of absence beginning in 1887, while awaiting retirement. He retired from active service for a service-related disability on Feb. 26, 1891.
Following retirement, he became the director of the Milwaukee Cement Company in Wisconsin.
He died Aug. 16, 1912 in Flushing, New York at the age of 66.