William P. Cronan

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For the Medal of Honor recipient, see William S. Cronan.
William Pigott Cronan
William Cronan as a Cadet.png
Cronan in 1903
19th Naval Governor of Guam
In office
April 29, 1916 – May 8, 1916
Preceded by William John Maxwell
Succeeded by Edward Simpson (governor)
Personal details
Born March 6, 1879
New Haven, Connecticut
Died March 18, 1929(1929-03-18) (aged 50)
San Diego, California
Nationality United States
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Years of service 1898 - 1923
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Captain
Commands USS Monaghan
USS Jouett
U.S.S. Komingin der Nederlanden
Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla Fifth Fleet
Battles/wars Battle of Santiago de Cuba
Awards Navy Cross

William Pigott Cronan (March 6, 1879 – March 18, 1929) was a United States Navy Captain who served as the 19th Naval Governor of Guam. During his tenure in the Navy, he became decorated, commanded a number of ships, and came to be known as "the most popular man in the Navy". He participated in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish–American War. In 1903, he gained some attention for his participation in the rescue of a Venezuelan fisherman off the coast of La Guaira under bad conditions. Both the Venezuelan government and navy command praised him for the way he carried out the operation. He became a national news story in 1907 while serving aboard the USS Connecticut during a training operation. When a gun nearly exploded because of leaking powder; he shoved his hand into the gun's breechblock, preventing the explosion and losing two of his fingers in the process.

He served as the first commanding officer of the USS Monaghan in 1911. He would later command the Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla Fifth Fleet from the flagship USS Jouett. During World War I, he first commanded the USS Supply and captured German Corvette Captain Adalbert Zuckschwerdt off the coast of Guam. He also commanded the U.S.S. Komingin der Nederlanden during the war, for which he received the Navy Cross. The house he owned with wife Nellie Grant Cronan, granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant, is now an historical site in San Diego. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Life[edit]

Cronan was born on March 6, 1879 to Patrick J. Cronan in New Haven, Connecticut.[1] His uncle, James P. Pigott, served in the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut.[2] Cronan was an officer in the New York Yacht Club.[3] He married Nellie Grant, daughter of Jesse Root Grant and granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant, in 1913.[4] They had two daughters: Nellie Grant Cronan and Elizabeth Grant Cronan. Nellie was born in Tokyo and married United States Army Captain Franklin Gibney Rothwell in 1942.[5] From 1923 until his death in 1929 Cronan lived in San Diego, California, in the William and Nell Cronan House, now considered an historical resource by the city.[6] During his time in the Navy, he was known as "the most popular man in the Navy".[7] He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Naval career[edit]

Cronan graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1898.[8] While still a naval cadet he served aboard the USS Marblehead.[9] Upon graduation, he participated in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba of the Spanish–American War aboard the USS Brooklyn.[10] He also served aboard the USS Iowa as an ensign.[11] He subsequently served aboard the USS Don Juan de Austria, leaving the ship in 1901.[12] In 1903, while serving aboard the USS Marietta, Cronan and eight enlisted men rescued a Venezuelan fisherman off the coast of La Guaira under dangerous conditions, for which he received praise from the Venezuelan government and his superior officers.[13] He also served with the Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy.[14]

In 1907, he gained some fame for an incident aboard the USS Connecticut during a target practice exercise. Believing an explosion imminent within the breechblock of one of the ship's guns, Cronan shoved his hand within the block to prevent its closing. He prevented any explosion and lost two fingers of his right hand in the process.[15]

In 1911, Cronan became the first commanding officer of the USS Monaghan as a lieutenant commander.[16] During his time in command, the ship struck a naval pier at full speed and took several hours to get loose.[17] In 1913 he became the commander of the newly formed Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla Fifth Fleet and also commanded his flagship USS Jouett.[18] Cronan served in World War I as the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Komingin der Nederlanden, a transport ship, for which he received the Navy Cross.[8] He retired as a Captain on October 4, 1923.[8]

Governorship[edit]

Cronan served as acting Naval Governor of Guam from April 29, 1916 to May 8, 1916.[19] As the ranking officer present, he took command from outgoing governor William John Maxwell pending the arrival of appointee Roy Campbell Smith. Cronan remained in Guam after his tenure as governor as commander of the USS Supply. He captured German Corvette Captain Adalbert Zuckschwerdt after he exploded the SMS Cormoran rather than allow her to be captured in Apra Harbor during World War I. He reportedly greeted Zuckschwerdt with the accolade "Sir, you are a brave man."[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Review of the Year". The Journal of the American-Irish Historical Society (Boston: American Irish Historical Society) 7: 114. 1907. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Cronan's Heroism Prevented Explosion". The Meriden Daily Journal (Meriden, Connecticut). 21 October 1907. p. 3. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "Blair to be Commodore". The New York Times (New York City). The New York Times Company. 15 November 2010. Archived from the original on 10 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Miss Nell Grant to Wed". The Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon). Guard Publishing Company. 18 April 1913. p. 1. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  5. ^ "Cronan–Rothwell". The New York Times (New York City). The New York Times Company. 9 November 1941. p. D2. 
  6. ^ Saunders, Kelly (6 November 2009). "City of San Diego Memorandum: ITEM #9 – 2950 and 2950A Sixth Avenue". San Diego: City of San Diego Historical Resources Board. p. 3. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Milestones: Apr. 8, 1929". Time (New York City). Time Inc. 8 April 1929. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c "Valor Awards for William Pigott Cronan". Military Times. Gannett Government Media. 2011. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps and Reserve Officers on Active Duty. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1900. p. 149. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  10. ^ Maclay, Edgar Stanton (1901). A History of the United States Navy from 1775 to 1902. New York City: D. Appleton & Company. p. 372. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  11. ^ List and Station of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Navy of the United States, and of the Marine Corps, on the Active List, and Officers on the Retired List on Employed on Active Duty. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. 1898. p. 20. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "Army and Navy Orders". New York Tribune (New York City). Horace Greeley. 1 September 1901. p. 3. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  13. ^ "Ensign and Jackies Rescue Venezuelan: Words of Praise for Act of Great Heroism". Washington Times (Washington, D.C.). Hearst Corporation. 4 January 1903. p. 3. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  14. ^ "Officer to be Tried for Giving Advice". The New York Times (New York City). The New York Times Company. 15 September 1909. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  15. ^ "To Commend Lieut. Cronan: Navy Department Will Take Official Notice of His Bravery". The New York Times (New York City). The New York Times Company. 22 October 1907. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  16. ^ Mooney, James (1981). "Monaghan". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington, D.C.: Naval History & Heritage Command. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  17. ^ "Destroyer Hits Naval Pier: Monoghan, Stuck Fast, Released by Water Pressure and Other Boats". The New York Times (New York City). The New York Times. 28 August 1911. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  18. ^ "Record Torpedo Flotilla: American Armada of Powerful Destroyers Being Organized". The New York Times (New York City). The New York Times Company. 1 December 1913. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  19. ^ "Naval Era Governors of Guam". Guampedia. Guam: University of Guam. 10 August 2010. Archived from the original on 29 October 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  20. ^ European War Pamphlets 59. Washington, D.C.: United States. 1919. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 

External links[edit]

William Pigott Cronan at Find a Grave