Member of the examining board for the admission of volunteer officers to the regular Navy in 1868. Promoted to commodore 10 February 1869. Lighthouse inspector 1869-1871. Promoted to rear admiral 14 February 1873 and given command of the North Atlantic Squadron in May of that year.
He was in command of the North Atlantic Squadron when the Virginius Affair took place in Cuba in November 1873. The A Spanish warship captured the American sidewheeler SS Virginius which had been hired by Cuban insurrectionists against Spanish rule to bring men and war material to Cuba during the Ten Years' War.
The ship and crew were brought to Santiago de Cuba where they were found guilty of piracy and sentenced to death by firing squad. Fifty-three were executed before British and American warships arrived and threatened to bombard unless the executions ceased. They did.