Rear Admiral Campbell was born in South Bend, Indiana, on October 4, 1872. He was appointed to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from the Thirteenth District of Indiana on September 6, 1889, and was graduated on May 31, 1893. He served the two years at sea, then required by law before commissioning, aboard the USS Baltimore, and was commissioned Ensign to rank from July 1, 1935. He subsequently progressed in grade to that of Rear Admiral, with date of rank February 17, 1927. He served in that temporary rank of Vice Admiral from June 15, 1934 until May 15, 1935. He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on November 1, 1936, and died on December 11, 1946.
Commissioned Ensign aboard the USS Baltimore, Rear Admiral Campbell continued to serve in that vessel until detached on March 8, 1897. He served next as Watch and Division Officer of the USS Alert until June 6, 1898, after which he had successive duty in the USS Albatross, the USS Bennington, and USS Solace. Completing his period of sea duty in June 1899, he reported on July 10 to the Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, for two months instruction.
On September 15, 1899, Rear Admiral Campbell returned to the Naval Academy for duty until June 1901, during which tour he had temporary duty aboard the USS Newport. He served in the battleships Iowa and Indiana, and again in the Iowa, until May 6, 1904, when he reported to the Navy Department, Washington, DC, for duty in connection with the General Board. On September 7, 1906, he was detached to deliver confidential papers to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Squadron, Bremerton, Washington, and thence to duty with the USS Milwaukee, then fitting out at Union Irons Works, San Francisco. He served aboard that cruiser from her commissioning, December 11, 1906, until October 27, 1907.
Ordered to report to the Secretary of the Navy, Navy Department, Washington, DC, Rear Admiral Campbell was appointed Judge Advocate General of the Navy (ad intern) with the rank of Captain, on November 12, 1907. On January 18, 1908, he was commissioned Judge Advocate General for a period of four years from January 14, 1908. His resignation tendered in a letter of October 9, 1909, was accepted by the President, and when relived he reported to the Secretary of the Navy for special temporary duty.
On January 10, 1910, he reported to the Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, for duty in connection with fitting out the USS North Dakota. He joined that battleship upon her commissioning, April 11, 1910, and served successively as her Navigator First Lieutenant, and Executive Officer. Detached on April 10, 1913, he proceeded in May to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, for the short course of instruction.
Rear Admiral Campbell commanded the USS New Orleans from August 1915 to March 1916, when he was transferred to command of the USS Charleston. On September 22, 1916, still in command of the Charleston he assumed additional duty as Senior Officer Present Afloat in the Canal Zone, with further additional duty in connection with plans for defense of the Panama Canal. For distinguished service as Commanding Officer of the Charleston, he was awarded the Navy Cross, with citation as follows:
“For distinguished service in the line of your profession as Commanding Officer of the USS Charleston engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies to European parts through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines.”
On November 20, 1917, a few days after being relieved of command of the USS Charleston, Rear Admiral Campbell became Commanding Officer of the Navy Training Station, Newport, Rhode Island, in which capacity he served throughout the remainder of World War I, and until November 16, 1919. He then reported to the Naval War College at Newport, Rhode Island, for a second course of instruction which he completed on November 20, 1920.
Duty as Chief of Staff to Commander Battleship Force, Pacific Fleet (Flagship Texas, and later Pennsylvania), continued when that designation was changed on October 1, 1921, to Chief of Staff to Commander, Battleship Squadron Four, Pacific Fleet. Rear Admiral Campbell was in command of the Pennsylvania from December 7, 1921, until November 25, 1922, when he became Captain of the Yard, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California. Appointed President of the Retiring Board convening at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, he also served as a member of the General Court Martial in 1923.
Rear Admiral Campbell proceeded to Washington, DC, in July 1924, for a tour of duty as Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, Navy Department. On April 30, 1925, he again assumed the duties of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, with the accompanying rank of Rear Admiral, being appointed for a period of four years. He was commissioned regular Rear Admiral to rank from February 17, 1927. Relieved for duty as Judge Advocate General, he reported on May 9, 1929, as Commanding, Special Service Squadron. He served from June 15, 1934 to April 1, 1935 in the rank of Vice Admiral, as Commander Scouting Force, US Fleet, and returned to the United States to serve as Commandant, Twelfth Naval District, and Commandant, Naval Operating base, San Francisco, California, in his permanent rank of Rear Admiral, until August 6, 1936.
Rear Admiral Campbell was relieved of all active duty and transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on November 1, 1936, having reached the statutory retirement age of sixty-four years. On May 10, 1942, he was recalled to active duty and ordered to the Thirteenth Navy District, Seattle, Washington. He had active duty intermittent as Prize Commissioner in the District Court of the United States for Northern Division of the Western District of Washington until his return to inactive duty status on August 31, 1942.
In addition to the Navy Cross (for service during World War I), Rear Admiral Campbell had the Spanish Campaign Medal; the Philippine Campaign Medal; the Victory Medal, Escort Clasp; the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal; the Navy Expeditionary Medal with two bronze stars; and the World War II Victory Medal.
He had also been awarded the Medal of Merit by the Government of Nicaragua; “ Abdon Calderon,” First Class, and Diploma, by the Government of Ecuador; and the Medal of Merit with Silver Star and Diploma by the Government of Nicaragua (1930).