Philip H. Cooper letter
Letter written by Cooper on January 20, 1861, while aboard U.S.S. Constitution.

Guide to the Philip H. Cooper Papers, 1860-1984

MS 326

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: David D'Onofrio
(Original Guide by Mary R. Catalfamo, 1997)

December 2011

Descriptive Summary

The Philip H. Cooper Papers were donated to the Special Collections & Archives Department by General [Frank J.] Norman of the Royal Military College and Captain David S. Cooper, USN (Ret.).  Accession Nos. 85-33 and 94-23.
1 linear foot.
Access to the Philip H. Cooper Papers is unrestricted.
The Philip H. Cooper Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
Philip H. Cooper Papers, MS 326
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Chronology

1844 Born on August 5 to Hiram H. and Delia A. Cooper in Camden, New York.
1860 On September 28, is appointed an Acting Midshipman from the 20th Congressional District of New York.
1862 On July 16, has rank changed to Midshipman, as the rank of Acting Midshipman is abolished.
On November 21 is appointed Acting Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Naval Academy along with Midshipmen Henry Glass and Charles McGregor, while all three were still Academy students.
1863 On May 28, is assigned to the practice ship U.S.S. Macedonian (Sloop-of-war) as Acting Ensign.
On October 1, is detached from the Naval Academy and assigned to duty aboard U.S.S. Richmond (Steam sloop-of-war).
1865 On July 28, is transferred to U.S.S. Powhatan (Side wheel steamer).
On November 10, is promoted to Master.
1866 On November 10, is promoted to Lieutenant.
1867 On December 31, is transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy, serving as Assistant to the Commandant and Assistant Instructor in Seamanship and Naval Tactics.
1868 On March 12, is promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
1869 On April 30, is assigned to U.S.S. Sabine (Frigate).
1870 On September 9, is ordered to the Tehauntepec and Nicaragua Surveying Expedition.
1871 On May 31, is detached from the Surveying Expedition for service in the Equipment Department of the New York Navy Yard.
On September 20, is transferred to U.S.S. Congress (Screw sloop-of-war).
1873 On July 10, is assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy.
1875 On July 19, is ordered to report for torpedo instruction.
On August 17, is ordered to the Naval Experimental Battery in Annapolis, Maryland.
1878 On June 28, is attached to the Coast Survey Office, where he served as Assistant Hydrographic Inspector.
On November 7, is detached from the Coast Survey for special duty with the Bureau of Navigation.
1879 On November 1, is promoted to Commander.
1881 On March 7, receives command of U.S.S. Alliance (Screw gunboat), while Alliance was under repair.
On October 1, is assigned to special duty in the Bureau of Navigation.
On October 17, is detached from the Bureau to receive command of U.S.S. Swatara (Screw sloop-of-war), which was serving in the Asiatic Squadron.
1884 On May 20, is detached from U.S.S. Swatara.
1886 On April 1, is assigned to the Norfolk Navy Yard.
1887 On February 18, is appointed Senior Member of a Board to survey all stores and materials at the Norfolk Navy Yard.
1889 Serves as a member of several General Courts Martial.
1890 On January 22, is ordered back to the Asiatic Squadron as commanding officer of U.S.S. Swatara.
1891 On January 30, is detached from Swatara effective February 7.
After detaching from Swatara, serves on several General Courts Martial and Courts of Inquiry.
On November 18, is ordered to duty on the Board on Navy Yard Organization.
1892 On June 3, is assigned to the Board of Inspection and Survey.
1892-1894 Serves on multiple Courts Martial, as well as on boards overseeing the trials of U.S. Ships Essex, New York, Detroit, Bancroft, Montgomery, and Columbia.
1894 On April 11, is promoted to Captain.
On July 18, receives command of U.S.S. San Francisco (Protected cruiser).
On November 7, is ordered to the U.S. Naval Academy as Superintendent, effective November 15.
1898 On July 5, is detached from the U.S. Naval Academy.
On July 7, is transferred to U.S.S. Chicago (Protected cruiser) for her fitting out.
On December 1, receives command of Chicago.
1899 On October 5, is detached from U.S.S. Chicago.
1900 On May 1, is ordered to U.S.S. Iowa (Battleship: BB-4) as commanding officer, effective June 9.
1901 On March 5, is detached from U.S.S. Iowa.
On October 7, is assigned to Tutila, Samoa as member of a General Court Martial.
1902 On February 9, is promoted to Rear Admiral.
On April 10, is appointed President of a General Court Martial at Port Royal, South Carolina.
1903 On February 6, reports as Senior Squadron Commander on the Asiatic Station.
On March 1, assumes command of the Southern Squadron of the Asiatic Station.
On July 2, receives command of the Cruiser Squadron of the Asiatic Station.
1904 On March 21, assumes command of the Asiatic Station.
On July 1, is detached from the Asiatic Station.
On August 5, is transferred to the retired list.
1912 On December 29, dies in Morristown, New Jersey.

Scope and Content Note

The Philip Henry Cooper Papers, consisting of 1 linear foot of documentation, span the period from 1860 to 1984, with the bulk of the material falling between 1860 and 1904. The collection spans Cooper's entire career in the United State Navy, including his service during the Civil War and with the Asiatic Squadron.

The bulk of the collection consists of Cooper's official orders, but also includes correspondence, certificates, diary entries, and genealogical data.

The Cooper Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single record series with no subdivisions. The majority of the collection is composed of two bound volumes of orders spanning Cooper's career in the U.S. Navy, from his time as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy to his retirement. While many of the orders simply indicate a change in duty station, others offer a more in depth view of Cooper's responsibilities while at individual duty stations, including: Cooper's role as Acting Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Naval Academy in 1862, while still a student at the Academy; assignments inspecting specific barred harbors while with the Coast Survey Office; the transport of specific envoys and ambassadors, as well as reporting on affairs in Korea while in command of U.S.S. Swatara from 1881 to 1882 and 1890 to 1891; performance of inspections and overseeing the trials of U.S. Ships Essex, New York, Detroit, Bancroft, Montgomery, Atlanta, and Minneapolis while with the Board of Inspection and Survey from 1892 to 1894; the transport of former Secretary [of State John] Sherman from Kingston, Jamaica aboard U.S.S. Chicago; and U.S.S. Chicago's visits to ports of call in Morocco, Egypt, Madagascar, and South Africa.

The remainder of the collection focuses specifically on Cooper's service during the Civil War, both while attending the Naval Academy and after, service with in the Asiatic Squadron, and his family history. The bulk of the remaining material is represented by a typescript compilation of some of Cooper's correspondence and diary entries, entitled "Letters, Diary and Lineage of Philip H. Cooper, USN." The compilation includes: five letters written by Cooper while at the Naval Academy discussing life at the Academy, the school ship U.S.S. Constitution, the attack on Fort Sumter, rioting in Baltimore at the outbreak of the Civil War, and the relocation of the Academy to Newport, Rhode Island (September 30 - October 28, 1860 and May 19, 1861); diary excerpts from Cooper's service aboard U.S.S. Richmond during the Battle of Mobile Bay, describing Union fleet movements, the capture of C.S.S. Tennessee, and the surrender of Confederate forts (July 20 - August 18, 1864); four letters from the Naval Academy practice cruise aboard U.S.S. Macedonian, explaining Cooper's role in the Powder Division, encounters with icebergs, disgust with the British in Plymouth, and sightseeing in London (June 16 - July 11, 1863); a letter from his time aboard U.S.S. Richmond remarking on the monitor U.S.S. Passaic and fleet preparations off Mobile Bay (October 21, 1863); journal excerpts kept by Cooper for his sons while in command of U.S.S. Swatara, which include descriptions of Mt. Fuji, Japanese children, sampans, birthday celebrations for [Nicholas II] of Russia, New Years in Tokyo, and Japanese Temples; and a section on the lineage of the Cooper and Bradford families.

The collection also includes a handwritten letter from Cooper to his parents, written from January 20 to 21, 1861, discussing the attack of Fort Sumter and the future of the Naval Academy, as well as several commission certificates and family history documents.


Container List

Box Folder  
1 1 Biographical and Genealogical Materials, 1984, undated
2 Certificates - Naval Order of the United States, 1906
3 Correspondence, January 20-21, 1861

U.S.S. Constitution. From aboard the USNA school ship, Cooper discusses the attack on Fort Sumter, impending Civil War, and the need to defend Constitution to "the last drop of American blood."

4 Letters, Diary, and Lineage of Philip H. Cooper, USN, 1860-1952

Photocopy of typescript compiled by Cooper's descendants.

5 Orders, 1862-1898
Box Folder
2 Orders, 1899-1904
Box Folder
MSOS 1 Certificates, 1866-1868

Cooper's U.S. Navy commissions as Master, Lieutenant, and Lieutenant Commander.