Rr. Adm. William Sheffield Cowles, Sr.

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Rr. Adm. William Sheffield Cowles, Sr.'s Geni Profile

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William Sheffield Cowles, Sr.

Birthplace: Farmington, Connecticut, United States
Death: Died in Farmington, Connecticut, United States
Place of Burial: Farmington, CT, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Cowles and Elizabeth Ellis Cowles
Husband of Anna L Cowles
Ex-husband of Mary Pleasant Holliday
Father of William Sheffield Cowles, Jr.
Brother of Admiral Walter Cleveland Cowles

Managed by: Noah Philip Ban
Last Updated:

About Rr. Adm. William Sheffield Cowles, Sr.

In July 1863 he was appointed an acting midshipman at the United States Naval Academy and graduated in June of 1867. He was commissioned as an ensign in December 1868. He rose through the ranks and was commissioned as a commander in June 1898.

Cowles commanded the gunboat, Topeka during the Spanish–American War, and served as naval aide to President McKinley. He was in command of the battleship Missouri when it collided with the Illinois, and when thirty-three men were killed in an explosion (he was cleared of responsibility in both cases).

He served as the Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet, and retired from the Navy in August 1908 after 45 years in service.

He was a companion of the District of Columbia Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and an honorary companion of the Connecticut Commandery of the Military Order of Foreign Wars.

On December 2, 1908, Cowles submitted a report, prepared by Lieutenant George C. Sweet, recommending the purchase of aircraft suitable for operating from naval ships on scouting and observation missions to the Secretary of the Navy.

Cowles was an official representative at the coronation of King George V in 1911.


Admiral Walter Cleveland Cowles (July 11, 1853 – November 27, 1917) was an admiral in the United States Navy. He served as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and commander in chief of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet.


Born in Connecticut, Cowles entered the U.S. Naval Academy at the age of sixteen, graduating in 1873. As captain of USS Kentucky (BB-6), he sailed around the world with the Great White Fleet in 1908-1909. He commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1913 to 1914 and the U.S. Asiatic Fleet from 1914 to 1915. In March 1915, Cowles became one of the first full admirals in the history of the U.S. Navy when the three commanders in chief of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Asiatic Fleets were all advanced to the temporary rank of full admiral while so serving. Upon relinquishing command of the Asiatic Fleet in June 1915, Cowles reverted to his permanent rank of rear admiral.

Cowles retired in August 1915. He died in Redlands, California on November 27, 1917.

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Rr. Adm. William Sheffield Cowles, Sr.'s Timeline

August 1, 1846
Farmington, Connecticut, United States
Age 51
Connecticut, United States
May 1, 1923
Age 76
Farmington, Connecticut, United States
Farmington, CT, USA