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Philip H. Cooper Papers, 1860-1984: Finding Aid

Published in December 2011

Summary Information

  • Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
  • Publisher Address:
    589 McNair Road
    Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
    Phone: 410-293-6917
  • Call number: MS 326
  • Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
  • Title: Philip H. Cooper Papers
  • Dates: 1860-1984
  • Size: 0.83 linear feet
  • Container Summary: 2 manuscript boxes, 1 oversize folder
  • Creator: Cooper, Philip Henry, 1844-1912
  • Language(s) of material: English
  • Abstract:The Philip H. Cooper Papers pertain to Cooper's service and experiences as a midshipman at the Naval Academy, aboard the practice ship U.S.S. Macedonian, aboard the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Richmond during the Battle of Mobile Bay, and as captain of the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Swatara. The papers consist of correspondence, journals, certificates, and biographical material.

Chronological Biography of Philip H. Cooper

  • Born on August 5 to Hiram H. and Delia A. Cooper in Camden, New York.
  • On September 28, is appointed an Acting Midshipman from the 20th Congressional District of New York.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • On July 28, is transferred to U.S.S. Powhatan (Side wheel steamer).
  • On November 10, is promoted to Master.
  • On November 10, is promoted to Lieutenant.
  • 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.
  • On March 12, is promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
  • On April 30, is assigned to U.S.S. Sabine (Frigate).
  • On September 9, is ordered to the Tehauntepec and Nicaragua Surveying Expedition.
  • 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).
  • On July 10, is assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • On July 19, is ordered to report for torpedo instruction.
  • On August 17, is ordered to the Naval Experimental Battery in Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 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.
  • On November 1, is promoted to Commander.
  • 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.
  • On May 20, is detached from U.S.S. Swatara.
  • On April 1, is assigned to the Norfolk Navy Yard.
  • On February 18, is appointed Senior Member of a Board to survey all stores and materials at the Norfolk Navy Yard.
  • Serves as a member of several General Courts Martial.
  • On January 22, is ordered back to the Asiatic Squadron as commanding officer of U.S.S. Swatara.
  • 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.
  • On June 3, is assigned to the Board of Inspection and Survey.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • On October 5, is detached from U.S.S. Chicago.
  • On May 1, is ordered to U.S.S. Iowa (Battleship: BB-4) as commanding officer, effective June 9.
  • 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.
  • On February 9, is promoted to Rear Admiral.
  • On April 10, is appointed President of a General Court Martial at Port Royal, South Carolina.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • On December 29, dies in Morristown, New Jersey.
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Description of Contents

The Philip Henry Cooper Papers, consisting of 0.83 linear feet 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.

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The Cooper Papers are arranged alphabetically by document type into a single record series with no subdivisions.

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Access and Use


Access is unrestricted.

Copyright and Permission

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.

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Acquisition and Appraisal

Provenance and Acquisition

Gift of General [Frank J.] Norman of the Royal Military College in August 1985 and Captain David S. Cooper, USN (Ret.) in May 1994. Accession No. 85-33 and 94-23.

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Processing and Other Information

Preferred Citation

Philip H. Cooper Papers, MS 326

Special Collections & Archives Department

Nimitz Library

United States Naval Academy

Processing Information

This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in December 2011. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in December 2011. Original guide by Mary R. Catalfamo in 1997.

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Subject Headings

Name and Subject Terms

  • Cooper, Philip Henry, 1844-1912
  • Mobile Bay, Battle of, Ala., 1864
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval operations
  • United States Naval Academy -- Students -- Correspondence

Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts
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Contents List

Box 1 Folder 1

Biographical and Genealogical Materials, 1984, undated

Box 1 Folder 2

Certificates - Naval Order of the United States, 1906

Drawer MSOS Folder 1

Certificates, 1866-1868

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

Box 1 Folder 3

Correspondence, 1861 January 20-21

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."

Box 1 Folder 4

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

Photocopy of typescript compiled by Cooper's descendants.

Box 1 Folder 5

Orders, 1862-1898

Box 2 Folder 1

Orders, 1899-1904

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