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Henry Glass (admiral)

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Henry Glass (admiral)

Henry Glass
Born (1844-01-07)January 7, 1844
Hopkinsville, Kentucky
Died September 1, 1908(1908-09-01) (aged 64)
Paso Robles, California
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1863–1906
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held USS Nyack
USS Jamestown
USS Wachusett
USS Monocacy
USS Cincinnati
USS Texas
USS Charleston
Pacific Squadron
Battles/wars American Civil War
Spanish–American War

Henry Glass (January 7, 1844–September 1, 1908) was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy, best remembered for his role in the bloodless capture of Guam in the Spanish-American War. He was also a Union veteran of the American Civil War.


Glass was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and entered the Naval Academy in 1860, graduating a year ahead of schedule with the rank of ensign on 28 May 1863.[1]

Civil War

He saw considerable action during the Georgetown, South Carolina, in February 1865.


After the war, Glass was advanced to the rank of master on 10 November 1865; to lieutenant on 10 November 1866; and to lieutenant commander on 12 March 1868. Sea duty came in a succession of ships: the steam sloop Powhatan in the Pacific Squadron (1865–1868); the steam sloop Tuscarora in the North Atlantic Squadron (1869); and the steam sloop Mohican in the Pacific Squadron (1870–1871). During his time in the Mohican, he was assigned to temporary command of the wooden-hulled, screw gunboat Nyack for six months during 1870. Also while serving in Mohican, he performed duty as an aide on the staff of the Commander of the Pacific Squadron, Rear Admiral John Lorimer Worden.

Glass then served in the screw sloop Iroquois in the Asiatic Squadron from 1872 to 1873, before returning to the United States for the first of several tours of duty at the Mare Island Navy Yard, first serving in the receiving ship Independence, before he was given command of the State of California's State Marine School Ship, Jamestown, which was recommissioned for this service on 21 July 1876.

Returning to the Navy on 3 March 1879, Jamestown was refitted at Mare Island and sailed from San Francisco for Alaska on 22 May 1879 to protect American lives and property threatened by "the disturbed condition of affairs" on shore. She arrived at Sitka on 14 June and remained there into the following year "preserving the peace and furnishing security to persons and property ... and ... surveying the waters and bays adjacent to Sitka." Promoted to commander on 27 October 1879, Glass served as the senior naval officer in Alaskan waters in charge of Indian affairs in that territory in 1880.


The following year, Glass took command of the screw sloop Wachusett, of the Pacific Squadron, before he began a tour at the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1883. During his time there, he compiled Marine International Law, a collection drawn, as he freely acknowledged, "from the writings and opinions of certain acknowledged authorities on the subject" to provide a handy reference work for naval officers. This volume was published in 1885. After winding up his tour at Mare Island in 1886, Glass commanded the sidewheel gunboat Monocacy of the Asiatic Squadron into 1888.

Glass' next duty was that of Commandant of Cadets at the Naval Academy, a post he held from 1889 to 1891, before serving on the Naval Examining Board from 1891 to 1893. Since the latter assignment was only intermittent, Glass served as equipment officer of the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1892 and later became captain of the yard the following year. On 23 January 1894, he was commissioned as captain.

He returned to sea in 1894 and commanded the cruiser Cincinnati from 1894 to 1896 before he took command of the battleship Texas. He then returned to Mare Island to the post of captain of the yard in 1897.

Spanish–American War

Upon the outbreak of war with Spain in 1898, the twin-screw protected cruiser Charleston was quickly readied for service, with Glass in command. Commissioned on 5 May 1898, Charleston set out for the Hawaiian Islands 16 days later. Escorting three transports — City of Peking, Australia, and City of Sydney — she sailed from Honolulu on 4 June, bound for Manila, Philippines. When clear of land, Glass opened his confidential orders, which directed him to take the island of Guam while en route to the Philippines. Her mission thus outlined, Charleston altered course for Guam, and the cruiser and her three consorts reached their interim destination at daybreak on 20 June. Leaving the transports anchored outside, Charleston boldly entered the harbor and fired a challenge, only to receive no return fire of any kind. Spanish emissaries soon called upon Glass and were astonished to learn that a state of war existed between their respective countries. As the island was virtually undefended — the forts were in ruins — the Spanish governor surrendered; and Glass took possession of Guam for the United States on the afternoon of 21 June 1898.

As the orders specified, Charleston proceeded on to Manila and participated in the operations that resulted in the surrender of that city in August 1898 and took part in the initial actions against Filipino "insurgents" who were resisting America's assumption of control in the Philippine Islands.


Relieved of command of Charleston on 12 December 1898 by Capt. W. H. Whiting, Glass returned to the United States and soon assumed command of the naval training station at San Francisco, California, on 23 January 1899. Promoted to rear admiral in 1901, he broke his flag in the armored cruiser New York on 4 February 1903 as Commander in Chief, Pacific Squadron. During his tour of duty in command of the squadron, the flagship, New York, together with the cruiser Marblehead and Fortune visited Adak and Kiska, in the Aleutians, conducting surveys of the latter place in July 1903 with an eye toward establishing a coaling station there.

Later, with New York requiring extended repairs at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Glass and his staff proceeded to San Francisco, and he briefly wore his flag in the cruiser Boston from 28 to 30 September 1903 before he transferred to the cruiser Marblehead on the 30th. On 3 November, a revolution broke out on the isthmus of Panama, which soon won the independence of that strategic region from Colombia. Glass, in Marblehead, was dispatched to Panama's Pacific coast and arrived there a week later. In addition to the Marblehead, his fleet consisted of the USS Wyoming, USS Concord and USS Nero.[2] During the period of tension, Glass stationed one ship at Darien harbor to protect American lives and property and, with the permission of the Panamanian government, sent small observation parties from his ships offshore to explore the rivers, roads, and trails of the region, thereby gaining "much information ... of a country of which very little was known."

Placed on the retired list on 7 January 1906, Glass served subsequently on active duty as Commandant, Pacific Naval District. He died in Paso Robles, California, on 1 September 1908.


The Glass Breakwater in Apra Harbor is named in his honor.


  1. ^ "US Navy Officers: 1778-1900". Retrieved 14 August 2010. 
  2. ^ "The Panama Question".  
Preceded by
Juan Marina
Final Spanish Governor
Commissioner of Guam
Succeeded by
Francisco Portusach Martínez
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