A Brief Biography of

Senior Major Percival Clarence Pope, U.S.M.C.

(February 28, 1841  - January 22, 1922)

Contributed by Robert Pendleton
General:

Senior Major Percival Clarence Pope was the original executive officer of the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced). He joined the battalion on board the U.S.S. Panther at  Hampton Roads, Virginia, on April 23, 1898.
 

The Biography:

Percival Clarence Pope was the son of Commodore John Pope, U.S. Navy, and Sarah E. (Hartwell) Pope. Of this union there were born two siblings; a daughter, Mary E. (Wyse) in 1834 and Percival Clarence born at Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, on February 28, 1841.

Pope married Sarah W.[entworth ?] Parker in the Church of the Messiah, St. Stephens Street, Boston, Massachusetts, on October 15, 1863. Both bride and groom were listed as being from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Of this union two sons were born: Percival Wentworth Pope (1866-May 5, 1941) and John P.[ercival ?] Pope (1869-February 14, 1959). His oldest son, Percival, described his father as being 5 feet 8 inches in height; his hair brown at the time of his parents’ marriage; his complexion was light, and his eyes were blue.

At the start of the Civil War in 1861 Percival Clarence Pope was 20 years, 8 months old and was appointed Captain’s Clerk, United States Navy, from New Hampshire on board the steam-sloop RICHMOND, which was commanded of his father. While on blockade duty at the Passes of the Mississippi River, they participated in the engagements of October 12 through 13, 1861.

On November 25, 1861 he was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Marines and assigned to duty at Marine Barracks, Washington Navy Yard. He was ordered to the Marine Barracks, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts on February 4, 1862. Eleven days later he was detached and sent to the New York Navy Yard to take passage to Port Royal, South Carolina. Here he joined Major Reynold’s Marine Battalion of the Southern Blockading Squadron on March 16, 1862.

On March 31, 1862 Lt. Pope was ordered to the Marine Corps Headquarters located at 8th and I Streets in Washington DC. Here, on April 12, he was commissioned First Lieutenant of Marines with the commission backdated to November 25, 1861. First Lieutenant Pope was transferred to the Marine Barracks, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seavy Island, Kittery, Maine on April 29, 1862.  Next, he was transferred to command the Marine Guard on board the steam frigate U.S.S. POWHATAN which operated with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron and the West India Squadron from 1862 to 1864.  In Charleston Harbor he was with the Marine Battalion that first unsuccesssfully attacked Fort Wagner, Morris Island on July 11, 1863 and also participated in the capture of Forts Moultrie and Bee in August, 1863.

Lt. Pope was transferred to Charlestown Navy Yard, Marine Barracks, Boston, Massachusetts on November 15, 1864.  On March 2, 1867 he was brevetted captain for gallantry and meritorious service in action during the night attack upon Fort Sumter  that took place on September 8, 1863, while he was aboard the U.S.S. POWHATAN. Pope was later in command of Marine Guards of the steam frigate U.S.S. SUSQUEHANNA, the flagship of the West India Squadron from 1867-1868. On  January 11, 1868 he was detached from the U.S.S. SUSQUEHANNA and was ordered to New York where took passage on U.S. Bark PURVEYOR , to St. Croix, West Indies and reported for duty on board the steam sloop U.S.S. MONONGAHELA, part of  the West India Squadron. Pope was later transferred to the New York Navy Yard, Marine Barracks, Brooklyn, New York on July 9, 1868 and then to the Charlestown Navy Yard, Marine Barracks, at Boston, Massacusetts on July 15, 1868.

Pope was commissioned Captain of Marines on April 20, 1870, with rank from April 16, 1870. On  October 7, 1870 he was transferred to the steamer U.S.S. PENSACOLA. A month later, on November 17, 1870, he was detached to the steamer U.S.S. SARANAC. Almost a year later, on October 4, 1871, he was transferred to command the Marine Guard on board the U.S.S. CALIFORNIA. On April 18, 1872 he was detached  to command the Marine Guard aboard the sloop ST. MARYS.  On February 12, 1873 he was transferred to the U.S.S. PENSACOLA as Fleet Marine Officer, South Pacific Fleet. September 22, 1873 saw his return to the United States where, on November 13, 1873, Captain Pope opened the Recruiting Rendezvous, Boston, Massachusetts.

On January 7, 1874 Pope was transferred to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to command the Marine Barracks at Seavy Island, Kittery, Maine. This was followed on February 19, 1874 with a transfer to  command  the Marine Barracks at the Charlestown Navy Yard at Boston, Massachusetts.

On January 15, 1880, Captain Pope was transferred to the Marine Guard on board the U.S.S. TRENTON, the flagship of the European Fleet. The following year, he was ordered to report to the Washington Navy Yard to serve as a member of the Board of Inspection as of December 1, 1881. Pope was transferred to the Marine Barracks at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Seavy Island, Kittery, Maine, on October 9, 1882. Captain Pope next commanded the Marine Barracks at the Washington DC Navy Yard, beginning on June 8, 1886. Over four years later, on September 19, 1890, Pope returned to serve at the Recruiting Rendesvous at Boston.

On March 4, 1891 Captain Pope was promoted to the rank of major, effective February 2, 1891.  He was assigned to the Headquarters of the  Marine Corps in Washington, D.C to serve as the President of the Board of Organization and Examination of Officers of the Marine Corps from July to October, 1891. Next he served as the President of the Board for Uniforming Marine Corps officers and men from November 1891 to March, 1892 and then went on to command the Marine Garrison at the United States Naval Academy beginning on March 1, 1892. Shortly thereafter, on July 10, 1892, he was detailed to command the Marine Barracks and Naval Prison at Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard. Next, Pope commanded the Marine Barracks at Mare Island, California beginning on January 15, 1894. From July 10, 1894 Pope was detailed to serve with the U.S. Army, from July 10 1894 to December 31, 1897. He again returned to the command of the Marine Barracks at Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard, for a brief period from March 26 to April 22, 1898.

At this time, war was imminent between the U.S. and Spain. Major Pope was detailed to serve as senior major and executive officer of the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced). Pope reported on board the U.S.S. PANTHER at Hampton Roads, Virginia on April 23, 1898. Pope was promoted to lieutenant colonel on June 2, 1898, while the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced) was at Camp Sampson, Key West, Florida. He was transferred from the battalion and admitted to the U.S. Army General Hospital at Key West, only four days later he was diagnosed as suffering from neurasthenia (chronic fatigue). Lt. Col. Huntington commanding battalion wrote a Report of Fitness of Officers stating that Major Pope’s Health was ...“not good”, and where the form asked “Considering the possible requirements of the Naval Service, in peace and in war, have you any objection to said officer being under his immediate command? If so state reasons, Lt. Col. Huntington wrote “Yes, too nervous.” Again, where the form asked “Do you consider said officer a fit officer to be intrusted with hazardous and important independent duties? If nay, state reasons,”Lt. Colonel Huntington again indicated “No. too nervous.” Lt. Colonel Pope did not return to duty with the battalion and was replaced as executive officer by Major Henry Clay Cochrane. Pope was discharged from the U.S. Army General Hospital by medical survey on June 16, 1898, and ordered to his home, having been granted three months sick leave. On September 8, 1898, he wrote a response to the Secretary of the Navy regarding Lt. Col. Huntington’s negative report concerning his fitness as an officer as follows:

     "Marine Barracks,

Navy Yard, Boston, Mass
Septr. 13 [?] 1898

Sir,

I.  I respectfully make the following statement in reply to the unfavorable answers to queries 4-6 and 7 made by Col. Robert W. Huntington, U.S.M.C. Commanding the 1st.Battalion of Marines.

II.  Query 4. “Health not good”. My health was not good ? I was ill and invalided north on sick leave and have only now recovered sufficiently to perform duty.

III. Queries 6 and 7 the answers to which are given as my being “too nervous,” as an objection to serving under the command of the Commander of the Marine Battalion and of unfitting me for hazardous duties, I would state that any nervousness on my part observable by the Commanding Officer, would have naturally been caused by my illness at the times reported on.

IV. My record during the thirty-seven years of service in the Marine Corps, I am sure, will bear out my assertion, that I have faithfully and zealously performed the duties required of me. I feel deeply the misfortunes to myself on account of my unavoidable illness while serving with the Battalion.

Very Respectfully.

P.C.Pope
Lieut. Colonel, U.S.M.C.

The
Secretary of the Navy
Navy Department
Washington."

On September 8, 1898 the balance of Pope's sick leave was revoked and he was ordered back to the command of the Marine Barracks, Charlestown Navy Yard at Boston.  On March 28, 1899, he was promoted to Colonel with the commission backdated to March 3.

In April 3, 1899 Pope was transferred to Marine Barracks at Brooklyn's New York Navy Yard in order to assemble, organize, and command a reconstituted 1st Marine Battalion, comprised of 15 officers and 260 enlisted men, for duty in the Philippines. The battalion embarked for Manila on May 29, 1899. A second battalion comprising 16 officers and 362 men, commanded by Major George Frank Elliott was sent to Cavite in August 1899. On December 15, a third battalion of 15 officers and 325 men , under the command of Major Littleton W. T. Waller, also arrived but within three days the third battalion was disbanded, and its personnel  distributed between the first and second battalions, with Major Waller commanding the first battalion. The two battalions (first battalion comprised companies A,B.C.and D and the second battalion, companies E, F, G, and H.) were joined together to form the 1st Marine Regiment.

On October 8, 1899 Colonel Pope was detached from Cavite, P.I. and was ordered to the United States where he was transferred, on November 9, 1899, to the Naval Hospital at Mare Island, California. On July 11, 1900 he was transferred to command the Marine Barracks at Brooklyn's New York Navy Yard. He assumed command of the Marine Barracks and Naval Prison at Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard, from August  4, 1900 to September 29, 1902 and then commanded only the Marine Barracks at the same location. Pope was detached from September 28, 1902 through January 5, 1903 to command a Marine Regiment during which he received a letter of citation regarding his handling of his Marine regiment at Culebra Island, Puerto Rico from Rear Admiral J. B. Coghlan.

Colonel Pope again returned to command Boston's Marine Barracks at the Charlestown Navy Yard from January 15, 1903 to June 30, 1903 and then the Marine Barracks at California's Mare Island Navy Yard, from November 16, 1903 to January 31, 1905. From this service, on January 31, 1905 Col. Pope was ordered to his home to await retirement in accordance with the law.

In a letter to Pope, written on February 27, 1905 by Brigadier General, Commandant George Frank Elliott, Pope was notified that on his birthday, on February 28, 1905, he would attain the age of sixty-four years, and would be placed on the retired list of officers of the Marine Corps.  On that date he was retired with the rank and three-fourths of the pay of a Brigadier General of the United States Marine Corps. He had completed over 44 years of active and distinguished service as an officer of the United States Marine Corps.

Brigadier General and Mrs. Sarah W. Pope retired to their home at 59 Morton Road, Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, where on January 22, 1922, General Pope died of Chronic Endocarditis (congestive heart failure) . He was interred on January 25, 1922 at Cedar Grove Cemetery, 920 Adams Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts.  Sarah W. (Parker) Pope (May 10, 1838 - November 2, 1922) died on November 2, 1922 and was interred beside her husband on November 5, 1922.  Their sons Percival Wentworth Pope and John P. Pope were also interred in the family lot.



Bibliography:

Brigadier General Percival Clarence Pope, U.S.M.C. (Retired): Personnel Records, Records of Proceedings of Marine Examining Boards, Report on the of Fitness of Officers, Report of Medical  Survey, U.S.National Archives & Records Administration, RG 125: Office of the Judge Advocate General (Navy), entry 62, proceedings of Naval and Marine Examining Boards, Ca. 1890-1941. File for Percival C. Pope, Lt. Col., USMC, [deceased].

Brigadier General, Commandant George Frank Elliott’s letter of February 27, 1905, notifying Colonel Pope concerning his being placed on the Retired List of  Officers of the Marine Corps, on his 64th birthday, effective February 28, 1905.   Personnel Records, Records of Proceedings of Marine Examining Boards, Report on the of Fitness of Officers, Report of Medical  Survey, U.S.National Archives & Records Administration, RG 125: Office of the Judge Advocate General (Navy), entry 62, proceedings of Naval and Marine Examining Boards, Ca. 1890-1941. File for Percival C. Pope, Lt. Col., USMC,

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

1st Regiment of Marines, Major John H. Johnstone, U.S.M.C., History Branch, Washington, D.C. 1968.

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

U. S. National Archives and Records, Form 85A Full Pension File Widow Sarah W. Pope, WC926696, Location 18E4, Row 12/18/4, Bx 59765

Cedar Grove Cemetery, 920 Adams Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts, Ms. Maryann O’Brien, Assistant Secretary, January 19, 2007


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