John R. Monaghan

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John Robert Monaghan
Born 26 March 1873
Chewelah, Washington
Died 1 April 1899 (aged 26)
Vailele, Samoa
Allegiance United States United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1895–1899
Rank Ensign

Spanish–American War

Second Samoan Civil War

Ensign John R. Monaghan (26 March 1873 – 1 April 1899) was an officer in the United States Navy.


Born in Chewelah, Washington, Monaghan was a part of the first graduating class of Gonzaga University, and ultimately graduated from the Naval Academy in June 1895. For the next two years, as a Passed Midshipman, he served in the cruiser USS Olympia (C-6), flagship of the U.S. Asiatic Station. Promoted to the rank of Ensign in July 1897, he was next assigned to the monitor Monadnock and gunboat USS Alert (AS-4), both of which operated along the West Coast of the Americas. In July 1898, during the Spanish–American War, he became an officer of the cruiser USS Philadelphia (C-4), which was then the Pacific Station's flagship.

In March 1899 Ensign Monaghan, onboard Philadelphia, was sent to the troubled Samoan Islands. On 1 April, while serving ashore with a combined unit of British, Americans and Samoans, his force was ambushed by another group of rebel Samoans. When his unit's leader, Lieutenant Philip Lansdale, was wounded, Ensign Monaghan seized a rifle and attempted to rescue the injured officer.

The official report of the action stated: "The men were not in sufficient numbers to hold out any longer, and they were forced along by a fire which it was impossible to withstand. Ensign Monaghan did stand. He stood steadfast by his wounded superior and friend—one rifle against many, one brave man against a score. ... He knew he was doomed. He could not yield. He died in heroic performance of duty."


A statue commemorating his death was erected in 1906 in downtown Spokane, Washington. The inscription reads: "During the retreat of the allied forces from the deadly fire and overwhelming number of the savage foe, he alone stood the fearful onslaught and sacrificed his life defending a wounded comrade Lieutenant Philip V. Lansdale United States Navy."[1]

Legend has it, that Robert's ghost haunts the Monaghan Music Mansion located on Gonzaga University's campus.


Two ships, USS Monaghan, have been named for him.

See also[edit]


This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entries can be found here and here.