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Adapted from "Captain Francis Cogswell, United States Navy, Deceased"  [biography, dated 16 April 1951] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library.

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Francis Cogswell

19 August 1887-22 September 1939

Photo of Francis Cogswell copied from the 1908 edition of the U.S. Naval Academy yearbook 'Lucky Bag'

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Captain Cogswell was born on August 19, 1887, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of the late Rear Admiral James Kelsey Cogswell, USN, and Mrs. Annie Miller (Hatch) Cogswell. He was appointed to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, from his native state in 1903. Following graduation in 1908, he served his two years at sea, as then required by law as a Passed Midshipman, before he received his commission as an Ensign, U.S. Navy to date from June 6, 1910, and advanced progressively through the various grades to the rank of Captain to date from June 30, 1936.

Upon graduation from the Academy in 1908, he was assigned to the USS South Dakota until December 1909, when he transferred to the USS Charleston. From May 1910 to January 1915, he had consecutive duty in the USS Decatur, USS Villalobos, USS Decatur ( second tour of duty), and the USS Florida, after which he reported as Censor at the Radio Station, Sayville, Long Island, New York. In August 1915, he transferred to the USS Balch, operating with the Atlantic Fleet, serving in that duty until September 1916, when he was ordered to return to the United States for duty as Instructor in the Department of Seamanship at the Naval Academy. During the World War, he served in the USS Downes and in command of the USS Fanning and the USS McDougal. For service in the Fanning and McDougal, he was awarded a Navy Cross for service as set forth in the following citation:

Navy Cross:

“For distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the USS Fanning and the USS McDougal, engaged in the important, exacting and hazardous duty of patrolling the waters infested with enemy submarines and mines, in escorting and protecting vitally important convoys of troops and supplies through these waters, and in offensive and defensive action, vigorously and unremittingly prosecuted against all forms of enemy naval activity.”

From June until September 1919, Captain Cogswell commanded the USS Stringham, followed by duty in command of the USS Chandler. In December 1923, he reported at the Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren, Virginia and remained at the Station until March 1925, when he was ordered to duty as Navigating Officer aboard the USS Tennessee. Between June 1927 and June 1930, he was attached to the Naval Powder Factory, Indianhead, Maryland, after which tour of duty he assumed command of the USS Pruitt. Detached from the Pruitt in December 1930, he commanded the USS Yarnell until May 1931. Duty as Commander Destroyer Division Three, proceeded instruction at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, from June 1932 until May 1933, and he remained on the staff of that college, upon completing the course.

Captain Cogswell commanded the USS Oglala from September 1934 until July 1936, after which he had about a month’s duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, navy Department, Washington, DC. in August 1936, he reported as US Naval Attaché and U.S. Naval Attaché for Air at the American Embassy, Paris, France, with additional duty in the same capacity at the American Embassy, Madrid, Spain, assuming Command of the USS Houston upon detachment in May 1939. Captain Cogswell died on September 22, 1939, at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Puget Sound, Washington.

In addition to the Navy Cross, Captain Cogswell has the Mexican Service Medal (USS Florida, 1914); and the Victory Medal, Destroyer Clasp (World War I service). He also had the Legion of Honor, rank of Chevalier awarded by the Government of France and the Order of Leopold II, rank of Officer awarded him by the King of Belgium.


Published: Tue Apr 20 09:40:33 EDT 2021