Rear Admiral Cheatham was born at Beach Grove, Tennessee, February 11, 1872, the son of Major General B.F. Cheatham, Confederate States Army. He was appointed Assistant Paymaster in the Navy in August, 1894. From that time until 1911 his assignment at sea included duty in USS Minnesota, USS Alliance, USS Wilmington, and the battleship, Maine. Ashore he had several tours of duty in the New York Navy Yard, and in the Naval Station, Cavite, P.L.
In 1911, with the rank of Commander, he was appointed Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Navy Department, Washington, and in 1914, he became Fleet Paymaster, Atlantic Fleet. He had duty as Supply Officer in the Navy Yard, Mare Island, California, from July, 1914 until October, 1920, and in the Washington Navy Yard from that date until December, 1922, when he sailed for Rio de Janeiro with duty as a member of the United States Naval Mission to Brazil.
Upon his return to the United States in 1926, he took the course of instruction at the Army Industrial College, Washington, DC. In April, 1929, with the temporary rank of Rear Admiral he was appointed Paymaster General of the Navy and Chief of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts. On June 13, 1930, he was promoted to the permanent rank of Rear Admiral, Supply Corps, US Navy. He served as Supply Officer, Fifth Naval District, and Officer in Charge, Naval Supply Depot, Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, from May 15, 1933, until February 29, 1936.
Rear Admiral Cheatham was transferred to the retired List of the Navy March 1, 1936.
He has the Sampson Medal, Spanish Campaign Medal, the Mexican Service Medal and the Victory Medal.