Henry Glass—born in Hopkinsville, Ky., on 7 January 1844— entered the Naval Academy in 1860; but, due to the exigencies of war, graduated a year ahead of schedule in May 1863 and saw considerable action during the Civil War, while attached to the steam sloop Canadaigua. He took part in engagements with Confederate batteries at Charleston, S.C., between July and September 1863; in the Stono River in December 1863 and July 1864; and in the North Edisto River in February 1865. He also participated in the capture of Georgetown, S.C., in February 1865.
After the war, Glass was advanced to master in November 1865; to lieutenant in 1866; and to lieutenant commander two years later. Sea duty came in a succession of ships: the steam sloop Powhatan in the Pacific Squadron (1865-1868); the steam sloop Tuscarora on the North Atlantic Station (1869); and the steam sloop Mohican on the Pacific Station (1870-1871). During his time in the last-named ship, he was assigned to temporary command of the wooden-hulled, screw gunboat Nyack for six months during 1870. Also whilst serving in Mohican, he performed duty as an aide on the staff of the Commander, Pacific Squadron, Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden.
Glass next traveled to the Asiatic Station, where he served in the screw sloop-of-war Iroquois from 1872 to 1873, before he returned to the United States for the first of several tours of duty at the Mare Island Navy Yard, first serving in the receiving ship Independence, before he was given command of the State of California's State Marine School Ship, Jamestown, which was recommissioned for this service on 21 July 1876.
Returned to the Navy on 3 March 1879, Jamestown refitted at Mare Island and sailed from San Francisco for Alaska on 22 May 1879 to protect American lives and property threatened by "the disturbed condition of affairs" on shore. She arrived at Sitka on 14 June and remained there into the following year "preserving the peace and furnishing security to persons and property . . . and . . . surveying the waters and bays adjacent to Sitka." Promoted to commander in 1879, Glass served as the senior naval officer in Alaskan waters in charge of Indian affairs in that territory in 1880.
The following year, Glass took command of the screw sloop Wachusett, on the Pacific Station, before he began a tour at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, Calif., in 1883. During his time there, he compiled Marine International Law, a collection drawn, as he freely acknowledged, "from the writings and opinions of certain acknowledged authorities on the subject" to provide a handy reference work for naval officers. This volume was published in 1885. After winding up his tour at Mare Island in 1886, Glass commanded the sidewheel gunboat Monocacy on the Asiatic Station into 1888.
Glass' next duty was that of Commandant of Cadets at the Naval Academy, a post he held from 1889 to 1891, before serving on the Naval Examining Board from 1891 to 1893. Since the latter assignment was only intermittent, Glass served as equipment officer of the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1892 and later became captain of the yard the following year. In 1894, he was commissioned captain.
He returned to sea in 1894 and commanded the cruiser Cincinnati from 1894 to 1896 before he took command of the battleship Texas in 1896. He then returned to Mare Island to the post of captain of the yard in 1897.
Upon the outbreak of war with Spain in 1898, the twin-screw protected cruiser Charleston was readied for service as expedi-tiously as possible, and Glass was chosen to command her. Commissioned on 5 May 1898, Charleston set out for the Hawaiian Islands 16 days later. Escorting three transports—City of Pekin, Australia, and City of Sydney—she sailed from Honolulu on 4 June, bound for Manila, Philippines. When clear of land, Glass opened his confidential orders, which directed him to take the island of Guam while en route to the Philippines. Her mission thus outlined, Charleston altered course for Guam, and the cruiser and her three consorts reached their interim destination at daybreak on 20 June. Leaving the transports anchored outside, Charleston boldly entered the harbor and fired a challenge, only to receive no return fire of any kind. Spanish emissaries who called upon Capt. Glass were astonished to learn that a state of war existed between their respective countries. As the island was virtually undefended—the forts were in ruins—the Spanish governor surrendered; and the Ladrones came under the stars and stripes when Glass took possession of Guam for the United States on the afternoon of 21 June 1898.
As the orders specified, Charleston proceeded on to Manila and participated in the operations that resulted in the surrender of that city in August 1898 and took part in the initial actions against Filippino "insurgents" who were resisting America's assumption of control in the Philippine Islands.
Relieved of command of Charleston on 12 December 1898 by Capt. W. H. Whiting, Glass returned to the United States and soon assumed command of the naval training station at San Francisco, Calif., on 23 January 1899. Promoted to rear admiral in 1901, he broke his flag in the armored cruiser New York on 4 February 1903 as Commander in Chief, Pacific Squadron. During his tour of duty in command of the squadron, the flagship, New York, together with the cruiser Marblehead and Fortune visited Adak and Kiska, in the Aleutians, conducting surveys of the latter place in July 1903 with an eye toward establishing a coaling station there.
Later, with New York requiring extended repairs at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Glass and his staff proceeded to San Francisco, and he briefly wore his flag in the cruiser Boston from 28 to 30 September 1903 before he transferred to the cruiser Marblehead on the 30th. On 3 November, a revolution broke out on the isthmus of Panama which soon won the independence of that strategic region from Colombia. Upon learning of the trouble, Glass, in Marblehead, sailed for Panama's Pacific coast and arrived there a week later. During the period of tension, Glass stationed one ship at Darien harbor to protect American lives and property and, with the permission of the Panamanian government, sent small observation parties from his ships offshore to explore the rivers, roads, and trails of the region, thereby gaining "much information ... of a country of which very little was known."
Placed on the retired list on 7 January 1906, Glass served subsequently on active duty as Commandant, Pacific Naval District. He died in Paso Robles, Hot Springs, Calif., on 1 September 1908.
(YFB-2: displacement 87; length 85'0"; beam 19'6"; draft 2'7"; speed 9.0 knots)
Admiral Glass—a wooden-hulled ferryboat—was constructed by the Mare Island Navy Yard (with which the late admiral had had much contact during the latter half of his career) and launched on 26 July 1916.
Accepted and simultaneously placed in service on 22 August 1916, Admiral Glass spent almost a decade operating in the 12th Naval District, servicing the Naval Training Station, Yerba Buena. During that time, on 17 July 1920, she was classified as a yard craft, YFB-2.
Pursuant to a material inspection of the craft, a report of which was dated 9 November 1925, Admiral Glass was placed "on the list of naval vessels to be disposed of by sale ..." on 21 May 1926, and her name was simultaneously struck from the Navy list. The launch was sold at public auction on 27 May 1927 to Mr. George A. Moffitt of Oakland, Calif.
By: Robert J. Cressman