From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Charles Cabaniss '80

Date of birth: October 10, 1859

Date of death: January 19, 1882

Age: 22

Naval Academy Register

Charles Cabaniss was admitted to the Naval Academy from Virginia on June 21, 1876 at age 16 years 8 months.


From "Dangers of Naval Life" by Arthur H. Dutton, former Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, in the January-June 1909 issue of "The Overland Monthly":

Cadet-Midshipman Charles Cabaniss was accidentally killed January 19, 1882, on board the U.S.S. Swatara, by a stray bullet at target practice.


From The United States Army and Navy Journal and Gazette of the Regular and Volunteer Forces on January 1, 1882:

To the Editor of the Army and Navy Journal:

Sir: By a telegram from the U.S.S. Swatara, dated at Kobe, Japan, Jan. 19, intelligence is received of the death of Cadet Midshipman Charles Cabaniss. it appears he was shot and almost instantly killed by a ball from a Hotchkiss rifle, fired accidentally by a sailor lately enlisted.

The writer enjoyed an intimate acquaintance with the deceased, and the recollection at this moment of the many good qualities he possessed prompts him to pay a slight tribute to his memory.

Devotedly attached to his profession, for which he had great aptitude, Midshipman Cabaniss, by his strict attention to duty and discipline, commanded too respect of his superior officers; and his kind and generous disposition greatly endeared him to his messmates and made him a favorite with the men over whom he had command. The writer distinctly remembers a conversation held with him a few weeks ago in which the deceased feelingly alluded to the near approach of the time for his examination for promotion, and for a meeting with the loved ones at home. How great a shock the intelligence of this mail brings to his home circle can only be imagined by those who know what a son and brother he must have been; but let it be a consolation to his relatives to know that the life he led was exceptionally honest and upright.

He was buried in Kobe, Japan.

From researcher Kathy Franz: "Charles Bothwell Cabaniss, born October 10, 1859, in Dinwiddie, Virginia. Father Charles a farmer, mother Virginia, brother Robert, sisters Anna and Sarah. Both parents died in 1901 and are buried in Petersburg, Virginia. No listing for Charles though in this cemetery, but news article said he was from Petersburg. The family would have been entrenched in the Civil War with the battle at nearby Five Forks in 1865 and the embattlements erected in Petersburg."

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

July 1881

Cadet Midshipman, Swatara

Others at this command: ENS Philip Lansdale '77.

Class of 1880

Charles is one of 4 members of the Class of 1880 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.