Winfield Scott Schley, born on 9 October 1839 in Frederick County, Maryland, was appointed Midshipman on 20 September 1856.
In 1860, he cruised in Niagara on a peacetime mission to Japan; and, he later briefly served in her during the Civil War while the steam frigate established the blockade off Charleston, S.C.
His first command was the prize square-rigger, General Parkhill, which he brought into Philadelphia. While assigned to Potomac at Mobile, he twice volunteered for hazardous service. He then served in Winowa, Monongahela, and Richmond off Mobile and in the Mississippi River. In 1864, he moved to the Pacific as executive office of Wateree.
He subsequently took part in quelling insurrection in the Chincha Islands; in landings to protect American interests at La Union, El Salvador; and in an expedition to Korea. In 1884, he was put in command of an expedition sent to the Arctic to relieve the expedition headed by Lt. A. W. Greely, USA. He reached the expedition’s survivors on 22 June 1884 and successfully brought them out. He was rewarded with the position of Chief of the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting which he held until 1889.
Schley was in command of Baltimore when the murder of two members of that ship’s crew by a mob in Valparaiso, Chile, nearly caused a war between the two countries.
Schley was promoted to Commodore in February 1898 and, at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, was placed in command of the Flying Squadron which took a prominent part in the destruction of the Spanish squadron in the Battle of Santiago on 3 July 1898. After promotion to Rear Admiral and two years in command of the South Atlantic Squadron, he retired on 9 October 1901.
Rear Admiral Schley died on 2 October 1911 at New York.