A Brief Biography of

Major Henry Clay Cochrane, U.S.M.C.

Assistant Executive Officer

Contributed by Robert Pendleton
Henry Clay Cochrane in dress uniform
General:

Major Henry Clay Cochrane was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant of Marines during the Civil War on March 10, 1863. Major Cochrane joined the First Marine Battalion at Marine Barracks, New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, directly from Marine Barracks, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seavey Island, Kittery, Maine, on April 19, 1898. He was appointed Assistant Executive Officer of the 1st Marine Battalion (Reinforced) and was advanced to Executive Officer due to the illness and hospitalization at Key West, Florida of Senior Major Percival Clarence Pope.

The Biography:

Henry Clay Cochrane was born in the city of Chester, Delaware County, Pennsylvania on November 7, 1842. He was the second son of James and Sarah J. (Gillespie) Cochran.   He was educated at local schools and in Philadelphia.

In 1860, he left school at age 19 in order to pursue a teaching career in the Chester schools. In his younger years he had exhibited a keen interest in genealogy and at the start of his first teaching assignment he added an “e” to his surname... “believing this to be the traditional and historical spelling of the name. Thereafter, he referred to himself and to his family by the spelling Cochrane, although his father never adopted the change.”

At the start of the Civil War Henry Clay Cochrane left his teaching position and joined the Union forces.  He applied for a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps and was examined, accepted, and appointed to the Marine Corps from Pennsylvania on August 29, 1861. On the day after he was commissioned 2nd lieutenant on August 30, 1861, he was found to be under the required age and the commission was revoked. He volunteered for duty in the U.S. Navy (until he could attain the legal age for commissioning) and served as a warranted Acting Master’s Mate, beginning September 7, 1861. He was assigned to the United States Receiving Ship NORTH CAROLINA for instruction in gunnery at New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York. He transferred to the steam gunboat PEMBINA in October 1861 and was in the Du Pont expedition and battle of Port Royal on November 7, 1861. This was the first of a series of Civil War battles in which he participated; the capture of Beaufort, South Carolina; St. Helena Sound, November 1; Tybee Island, Georgia, December 10; battle of Port Royal Ferry, South Carolina, January 1, 1862; in action against the Confederate Thunderbolt Battery, Warsaw Sound, near Savannah, GA; in expedition to Cumberland Sound, GA, and St. John’s River., the capture of Fernandina, FL., and Jacksonville, FL, etc.

He was appointed second lieutenant (confirmed on March 10, 1863) while on blockade off Mobile, Alabama, and was ordered to Headquarters, Marine Corps, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., in May 1863. On November 17, 1863 he accompanied President Lincoln to the dedication of Gettysburg Battlefield Cemetery.  By 1865, he was in command of the Marine Detachments on board BLACK HAWK and TEMPEST.

He was commissioned first lieutenant on August 20, 1865; stationed at Headquarters, Marine Corps 1865-1866; in charge of prisoner of war Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes from January to April 1866.

He was stationed at Philadelphia Navy Yard, League Island, PA, 1866 to 1868. Assigned to the steamer SARANAC, North Pacific Squadron, 1968-69; on board the sloop JAMESTOWN, Pacific Fleet, cruising in Polynesia, 1869-71. Assigned to Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, League Island, PA, 1871-72; assigned to recruiting duty in New Jersey, Delaware and Philadelphia, PA, during 1872; placed at the head of the grade of first lieutenants of Marine Corps by the Secretary of the Navy, March 11, 1873; assigned to recruiting duty at Richmond, VA and Baltimore, MD., 1873; assigned to the Marine Company, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD 1874-75; served as Judge-Advocate, first general court martial of naval cadets under the “hazing law,” October 1875; assigned to steam-sloop PLYMOUTH, North Atlantic, West Indies and Centennial Exposition of 1875-78; on the cruise of PLYMOUTH five hundred miles up the Mississippi River to Vicksburg, spring of 1877; assigned to command the United States Arsenal Penitentiary, Washington, DC, July 1877 (during the labor riots); assigned to Marine Barracks, Philadelphia Navy Yard, League Island, PA, 1878-79.

Commissioned captain on March 16, 1879; assigned to Marine Barracks, New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, 1879; assigned to Marine Barracks, Norfolk Navy Yard, 1880; Fleet Marine Officer on board LANCASTER, European Station, 1881-84; present at the bombardment of Alexandria, Egypt, by the British Fleet, July 1882, landing with 70 Marines to assist in suppressing arson and pillage and to re-establish the United States Consulate. He was present at the coronation of Czar Alexander III at Moscow, May, 1883; commanded a company of Marines in expedition from New York to restore order and protect traffic in the Isthmus of Panama, 1885; rebuilt and commanded Marine Barracks, Pensacola, Florida. 1886-89; commanded Marine Barracks, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts; assigned to command Marine Barracks Philadelphia Navy Yard, League Island, Pennsylvania, 1890; commanded Marine Barracks, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California, 1890-91; assigned to flagship PHILADELPHIA as Fleet Marine Officer, Pacific Station, 1894-96; commanding Marine Barracks, Naval Station Newport, Newport, Rhode Island, and at the Naval War College, 1896-98; Promoted major, February 1, 1898;  On April 19, 1898 he joined the newly forming 1st Marine Battalion at New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York from Marine Barracks, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seavy Island, Kittery, Maine; promoted to second in command of the 1st Marine Battalion (Reinforced) at Camp Sampson, Key West, Florida, due to the hospitalization of  Senior Major Percival Clarence Pope, Executive Officer, just prior to the deployment of the battalion to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on June 7, 1898; engaged at Camp McCalla against Spanish infantry and Cuban irregulars from June 11 through June 14, 1898; with the battalion on board U.S.S. RESOLUTE at the bombardment of the city of Manzanillo, Cuba, August 12, 1898. Returned to the U.S. with the battalion via Guantanamo Bay to Camp Heywood, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seavey Island, Kittery, Maine. After the dissolution of the battalion in September 1898, he was reassigned to command the Marine Barracks, Newport Naval Station, Newport, Rhode Island.

Promoted Lt. Colonel, March 3, 1899 and transferred to command Marine Barracks, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts.

Promoted Colonel, January 11, 1900; ordered to command the First Regiment of Marines in the U.S. Relief Expedition, operating in China at Tientsin, China; embarked with the First Regiment for duty at Cavite, Philippine Islands; assigned to command the First Brigade of Marines, January 10, 1901; later assigned to command Marine Barracks, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seavey Island, Kittery, Maine.

On March 10, 1905 Colonel Cochrane was placed on the retired list.

On April 13, 1911 Colonel Cochrane was promoted to Brigadier General (Ret.), to rank from date of retirement.

Brigadier General Henry Clay Cochrane died at Chester, Pennsylvania on April 27, 1913 and was buried on April 30 in Chester Rural Cemetery.



Bibliography:

Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy , (Philadelphia: Lippincott , 1902).

Coker, C. F. W., Captain U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Register of the Henry Clay Cochrane Papers, Manuscript Register Series No. 1, Marine Corps University Archives and Special Collections Branch, Gray Research Center, Quantico, Virginia, 1968

Biographical sketch included in the personal papers of General Henry Clay Cochrane, Marine Corps University Archives and Special Collections Branch, Gray Research Center, Quantico, Virginia.

Marines in the Spanish-American War, 1895-1899: Anthology and Annotated Bibliography.  (Washington, D.C: MCHC, 1998)

1st. Marine Battalion (Reinforced) ROSTER, Headquarters Staff, transcribed and compiled by Robert M. Pendleton, unpublished manuscript, 2005-6
 


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