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Charles J. Train
Charles J. Train.jpg
Charles J. Train around the time of the Spanish-American War.
Born (1845-05-14)14 May 1845
Died 4 August 1906(1906-08-04) (aged 61)
Place of birth Framingham, Massachusetts
Place of death Yantai, China
Buried at United States Naval Academy Cemetery, Annapolis, Maryland
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1864-1906
Rank US-O8 insignia Rear Admiral
Commands held
Battles/wars Spanish-American War
Rear Admiral Charles Jackson Train (14 May 1845–4 August 1906) was an officer in the United States Navy. He served in the Spanish-American War and later as the second Commander-in-Chief of the United States Asiatic Fleet.

Naval careerEdit

Train was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, on 14 May 1845,[1] and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy on 27 November 1861, graduating in November 1864. From 1866 to 1867 he served aboard the flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron, the screw frigate USS Colorado, being promoted to ensign on 1 November 1866 and to master on 1 December 1866 while aboard Colorado. During 1868 he served aboard the screw sloop-of-war USS Frolic in the European Squadron, and was promoted to lieutenant on 12 March 1868 while aboard Frolic. He was aboard the screw frigate USS Sabine while she made midshipman training cruises to ports in Europe and the Mediterranean in 1869 and 1870, and was promoted to lieutenant commander on 30 June 1869.[2][3]

Train returned to the U.S. Naval Academy to serve as an instructor from 1871 to 1872. He was assigned to special duty in 1873, and in 1874 and 1875 had another special duty assignment to study the December 1874 transit of Venus. From 1875 to 1876 he was aboard the sloop-of-war USS Tuscarora on the Pacific Station. He had several assignments in 1877, beginning with duty at the Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California, followed by a stint aboard the sloop-of-war USS Lackawanna on the Pacific Station, and then a return to the Naval Academy for a second tour as an instructor in navigation.[4][5]

Leaving the Naval Academy in 1881, Train received a special duty assignment aboard the sidewheel frigate USS Powhatan from 1881 to 1884. He was assigned to the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting from 1884 to 1886 and was promoted to commander on 17 January 1886.[6] Train took command of a training ship, the sloop-of-war USS Jamestown, from 1886 to 1888, then was commanding officer of another training ship, the sloop-of-war USS Constellation, from 1888 to 1889. After service as a lighthouse inspector from 1889 to 1890, he took command of the schooner-rigged gunboat USS Machias on 20 July 1893.[7]

Train reported for duty to the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, in June 1894, then in October 1894 became a naval member of the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta, Georgia. In June 1896 he became a lighthouse inspector in the Fourth District, serving in that capacity until 1898.[8]

On the eve of the Spanish-American War, Train was ordered to the auxiliary cruiser USS Prairie, and became her first commanding officer when she was commissioned on 8 April 1898. Train then took command of the battleship USS Massachusetts on 19 April 1898, commanding her during the war. She participated in the blockade of Santiago de Cuba but missed the Battle of Santiago de Cuba because she was away coaling.

Promoted to captain on 22 November 1898,[9] Train became a member of the Board of Inspection and Survey on 14 May 1901[10] and served as its president from January 1903 to February 1904.

Promoted to rear admiral, Train became the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet on 30 March 1905.:[11] During his tour, he was involved in various ways with the last weeks of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, and after the decisive Japanese defeat of the Imperial Russian Navy in the Battle of Tsushima Strait in May 1905 units of the Asiatic Fleet escorted three fleeing Russian cruisers into Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands, where he ensured that their crews were well taken care of during a lengthy stay until they were able to return to Russia.[12]

In November 1905, Train was at the center of a diplomatic dispute while with a group of American officers on a pheasant-hunting expedition near Nanking, China, when he accidentally shot a Chinese woman with birdshot, inflicting minor injuries on her. A mob of hundreds of Chinese villagers formed around Train's party and attacked it, pushing Train into the mud, seizing the officers' guns, and taking Train's son, Navy Lieutenant Charles R. Train, hostage. When 40 United States Marines landed to rescue the officers, the villagers attcked them with pitchforks and the Marines fired two shots. Local Chinese officials refused to return the officers' guns, but Train and his companions were able to extricate themselves without further injury to anyone. The governor of Nanking later apologized for the mob's actions returned the American officers' guns, and punished the ringleaders of the mob.[13][14]

Personal lifeEdit

Train was married to the former Grace Tomlinson (1850-1942).[15]


Train planned to retire from the Navy on 14 May 1907 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 62, but, before he could, he died of uremia in Yantai (known to Westerners at the time as "Chefoo"), China, on 4 August 1906 while in command of the Asiatic Fleet. After a memorial ceremony which the Japanese admiral Heihachiro Togo and other dignitaries attended at Yokohama, Japan, aboard Train's flagship, the battleship USS Ohio, the steamer Empress of China carried his body out of the harbor under escort. His body was transported directly to Washington, D.C.[16]

Train is buried with his wife at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.[17]



External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
William M. Folger
Commander-in-Chief, United States Asiatic Fleet
30 March 1905–4 August 1906
Succeeded by
Willard H. Brownson

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