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First Name: Joseph

Last Name: Coghlan

Birthplace: Frankfort, KY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Bullock

Date of Birth: 09 December 1844

Date of Death: 05 December 1908

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served:
Joseph Bullock Coghlan

•  Spanish-American War (1898)


Joseph Bullock Coghlan
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Joseph Bullock Coghlan was born on 9 December 1844 in Frankfort, KY. At an early age, Coghlan's family moved to Belleville in St. Clair County, IL, and it was there that he received his early education.

On 27 September 1860, he received his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated on 28 May 1963 and was promoted to Ensign. From 1863-65, he was attached to the steam sloop USS Sacramento on special service. In late 1865, Coghlan was promoted to Master of the steam sloop USS Brooklyn, the flagship of the Brazilian Squadron and served on the Brooklyn until 1867 when he was promoted to Lieutenant. In 1867, he was assigned as Executive Officer of the USS Pawnee and later that same year was transferred to the steam frigate USS Guerriere.

On 12 March 1868, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and, being attached to the steam sloop USS Richmond, joined the European Squadron where he remained until 1871. In 1873 he was assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron, and that same year was transferred to the USS Colorado then the USS Monongahela proceeding to the Asiatic Station. He remained in that capacity until 1879, when he returned home to join the Receiving Ship USS Independence. In early 1882, Coghlan was promoted to Commander and commanded the USS Adams from 1883 to 1884 on the Pacific Station.

Following this tour of duty, he was reassigned to the Mare Island Navy Yard from 1886-87 then ordered in 1888 to command the USS Mohican and then the USS Raleigh, a battleship which he served on during the historic battle of Manila Bay. During the Spanish American War, he led the expedition which captured the batteries at Cavite, and at Isla Grande, Subic Bay, Philippines. In 1898 Coghlan was at the War College and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1902. In 1904 he became the Commandant of the Navy Yard at New York. He retired from the Navy on 2 June 1907.

In Retirement

Shortly after his retirement, he was appointed Chairman of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commission and, at the time of his death, was engaged in the preparation of the plans for the reconstruction of the famous old USS Clermont, the first steamboat with which Fulton navigated the Hudson River.

It was reported in his obituary that at the time of his retirement, he was the most famous officer in the American Navy, with the exception of Admiral Dewey, Rear Admiral Evans and Rear Admiral Sperry. Coghlan also had a sense of humor. Speaking to sailors he repeated the story about the way he handled an Alderman who wanted to borrow a cruiser on which to entertain a party of friends. Coghlan dictated a prompt reply: "My Dear Alderman: I am, indeed, sorry, but the navy yard has just run out of cruisers, as several Aldermen who borrowed them recently have not returned them. In a few days maybe I can talk business. He asked how would a battleship or submarine do?"

Death and Burial

Rear Admiral Joseph Bullock Coghlan died on 5 December 1908 in New Rochelle, NY. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2353   Created by: MHOH




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