A Brief Biography of

Acting Sergeant-Major Henry Good, U.S.M.C.

(December 31, 1859 - June 13, 1898)

Contributed by Robert Pendleton
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First Sergeant Henry Good was the Acting Sergeant-Major of the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced) which saw action at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War of 1898.

The Biography:

Henry Good, a naturalized U.S.citizen, was born in the town of Cork, County Cork, Ireland, on December 31, 1859. Prior to enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, in 1889, he resided in Boston, Massachusetts and was employed as a clerk.

Good first enlisted at Marine Barracks, Charlestown Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts on December 2, 1889. The record of enlistment states that he was 29 years, 11 months old, weighed 167 lbs., was 70 ½ inches in height, and had a 37 ½ (?) waist. He was fair complexioned, with brown hair, blue eyes and his vision was 20/20. In the “other personal characteristics” it was stated that he had a scar on the bridge of his nose and hirsute [hairy] chest. He was accepted and sworn in for a term of five years by Captain L. E. Fagan, U.S.M.C., who certified “That the Recruit was inspected previous to his enlistment and that he was entirely sober when enlisted; that, to the best of my judgment and belief, he was duly qualified to perform the duties of an able-bodied soldier.”

After five days of shore service, Private Good was assigned to the U.S.S. CHICAGO Marine Detachment under the command of Captain William F. Spicer, U.S.M.C., later to command Company D, in the Spanish American War's First Marine Battalion. Good was promoted to corporal on June 23, 1890; to sergeant on September  19, 1890 and then to 1st Sergeant on 14 June 1892.

On December 2, 1894 while serving on board the U.S.S. CHICAGO, at Gibraltar, 1st Sergeant Good was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps upon the expiration of his period of enlistment. The next day, December 3, 1894, also on board CHICAGO, he re-enlisted and sworn in for an additional five year period by Captain Spicer.

On April 26, 1895, having completed 4 years, 11 months and 26 days of sea service on board CHICAGO, United States Naval Force, European Station, 1st Sergeant Good was transferred with the rank of sergeant to Marine Barracks, New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York. At Marine Barracks, he was promoted to 1st Sergeant on July 8, 1895 and detailed for duty as such.

On Friday, April 22, 1898, Good was transferred as 1st Sergeant from Marine  Barracks, New York Navy Yard to the newly formed First Marine Battalion (Reinforced) of Admiral Sampson’s North Atlantic Squadron. The New York Navy Yard Marine Barracks had been under the command of Lt. Colonel Robert Watkinson Huntington, who was transferred to command the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced). On that same day, the battalion boarded the U.S.S. PANTHER and departed the New York Navy Yard bound for Key West, Florida.

After more than a months wait at Camp Sampson, Key West, Florida, the battalion was again ordered to board the U.S.S. PANTHER on Monday, June 6. The PANTHER departed Key West the next day at sunrise and rendezvoused with Admiral Sampson’s blockading fleet at sea off Santiago de Cuba three days later. Lieutenant Colonel Huntington reported to Admiral Sampson and received his orders to immediately capture Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  The PANTHER steamed into Guantanamo Bay, dropping anchor at 1:00 p.m. At 2:00 p.m. four of the six companies were on board boats being  pulled ashore by steam launches from Navy ships in the bay. Captain George Frank Elliott’s, Company C was the lead company, followed by Captain William F. Spicer’s Company D and deployed to the top of a 150 ft. hill (soon to be named  McCallas’s Hill) near the landing beach on the east side of the bay. During the afternoon of the landing, tents were pitched at McCalla’s Hill and out-posts established. The first night was spent quietly and uneventfully. On the morning of Saturday, 11 June, the last infantry company and Company F (4th Artillery) landed, under the command of Major Henry Clay Cochrane, Battalion Executive Officer.

Spanish forces undertook a night attack on the Camp McCalla Hill position on  Saturday, 11 June 1898, and 1st Sergeant Good  suffered a slight wound in the action. “On the morning of [Sunday] the 12th, all tents and material were removed from the position and taken on the bay side of the hill where a trench was dug on the south front, about 40 yards across, and a barricade made around the position [the battalion commander had been informed that] more troops were being assembled by the enemy on this immediate vicinity.”

During Sunday, 12 June 1898, while in combat with the First Marine Battalion (Reinforced) at Camp McCalla, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Lt. Colonel Huntington recommended 1st Sergeant Good’s commissioning as second lieutenant and appointed him acting sergeant-major of the battalion. The honor of Good's new position was short-lived. During an early morning attack on Monday, June 13,1898, on the bay-side trench position of Camp McCalla hill, Acting Sergeant-Major Henry Good was killed in action by a sniper at approximately 2:00 a.m. while controlling the fire from the trench occupied by the Marine Detachment of the U.S.S. MARBLEHEAD. His remains were buried at the Camp McCalla hill interment area.

Nearly one year later, in March of 1899, the assistant secretary of the Navy ordered that the remains of the battalion’s casualties be disinterred at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and returned to New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, on board the U.S.Army transport ROUMANIAN (later to be renamed CROOK). His remains were re-interred at the United States Naval Hospital Cemetery, New York Navy Yard.

The 1.7 acre Naval Hospital Cemetery, located on the Hospital campus at the New York Navy Yard, had served as the hospital’s burial ground from 1824 to 1910. By 1910, it had reached full capacity.  In 1926, the Navy removed 987 burial remains from the cemetery and interred them at Cypress Hill National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Acting Sergeant-Major Henry Good’s remains (his name was misspelled in the cemetery records as Goode) were re-interred yet again at Cypress Hill National Cemetery, Naval Section 7, Row 23, Grave 13051, on the afternoon of Sunday, October 17, 1926.

It is interesting to note that during the 1930’s and 1940’s, believing that all of the burial remains had been relocated to Cypress Hill National Cemetery the Navy converted the cemetery property to recreational athletic fields. However, during 1996 and 1997, the Navy conducted documentary research and field tests and concluded that there were no records confirming the removal of about 517 additional burial remains. Thus, in 1999, the Navy removed the recreational equipment and altered the landscape of the site to restore it as a national cemetery. The deed for the cemetery property preserves the cemetery in accordance with a protective covenant placed in the deed by the United States Navy.


Kelly, Lieutenant Colonel David E., U.S.M.C.,  Marines in the Spanish-American War: A Brief History, by ., p. 21, published in Marines in the Spanish-American War 1895-1899 Anthology and Annotated Bibliography, History and Museum Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., 1998.   Lieutenant Colonel Huntington’s  Report to Colonel Commandant Charles Heywood, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, June 17, 1898, page 115.

1st Marine Battalion (Reinforced) Roster, Battalion Acting Sergeant-Major Henry  Good , Headquarters Staff, compiled 2005-6, Robert M. Pendleton, unpublished  manuscript.

Service Records of Sergeant Henry Good, NARA, RG 127: U.S. Marine Corps, entry 76, Case Files, Enlisted Men, 1798-1895. File for Mr. Henry Good.

Record of Decision for the Disposal and Reuse of Naval Station Brooklyn, New York, Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]       [DOCID:fr30ja01-50], pp 8 of 13

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