From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Philip Lansdale '77

Date of birth: February 15, 1858

Date of death: April 1, 1899

Age: 41

Naval Academy Register

Philip Van Horn Lansdale was admitted to the Naval Academy from Washington, D.C. on June 6, 1873 at age 15 years 3 months.

Biography & Loss

Photo courtesy of the Naval Academy's Nimitz Library, via researcher Kathy Franz.
Photo courtesy of the Naval Academy's Nimitz Library, via researcher Kathy Franz.

From Wikipedia:

Philip Van Horn Lansdale, born in Washington, D.C., graduated as Passed Midshipman from the Naval Academy 18 June 1879. Commissioned ensign 1 June 1881, he served on Asiatic, North Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific Stations. Promoted to lieutenant 15 May 1893, he became executive officer of Philadelphia upon her recommissioning at San Francisco 9 July 1898.

After visiting Honolulu for ceremonies which transferred the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Islands to the United States, Philadelphia, flagship of Rear Admiral Albert Kautz, Commander, Pacific Station, arrived Apia, Samoa, 6 March 1899. An unstable political climate, created by rival Samoan factions and German presence, erupted into open hostility during the month. A combined American and British naval force sought to keep the peace, but natives attacked American and British consulates late in March.

A British and American landing party set out from Apia in late March. On 1 April during a mission to drive off the forces under King Mataafa. With Lieutenant Lansdale in command, the landing party was ambushed and forced to retreat after a fierce fight near Vailele.

While protecting the evacuation of a mortally wounded machinegunner, Lieutenant Lansdale was seriously wounded, his right leg shattered by an enemy bullet. Aided by two enlisted men, Ensign John R. Monaghan carried him until he dropped from exhaustion. Despite Lansdale’s plea, “Monny, you leave me now, I cannot go any further,” Ensign Monaghan remained beside the fallen lieutenant. With only one rifle between them, they were soon overrun by pursuing Mataafan Samoan forces; both officers died on the spot. Seaman Norman Edsall and another sailor also were killed.

He was survived by his wife and is buried in California.


USS Lansdale (Destroyer No. 101) and USS Lansdale (DD 426) were named for Philip; the ships were sponsored by his widow, Ethel. A third ship, USS Lansdale (DD 766), was launched but never completed. She, too, was sponsored by his widow.


Philip's classmates erected a plaque to his honor in Memorial Hall.

Related Articles

John Monaghan '95 was also lost in this action.

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 1877

Midshipman, no duty station given

July 1878

Cadet Midshipman, Constellation

January 1879

Cadet Midshipman, Powhatan

Others at this command:

January 1880

Midshipman, Swatara

July 1881

Ensign, Swatara

Others at this command:

January 1882

Ensign, Swatara

Others at this command:

January 1883

Ensign, ordnance duty, Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

January 1884

Ensign, Galena

February 1885

Ensign, Ossipee

January 1886

Ensign, Ossipee

February 1887

Ensign, Ossipee

January 1888

Ensign, Inspector of steel, new cruisers

January 1889

Lieutenant (j.g.), Inspector of steel, new cruisers

January 1890

Lieutenant (j.g.), Inspector of steel, new cruisers

January 1891

Lieutenant (j.g.), Philadelphia

January 1892

Lieutenant (j.g.), Philadelphia

January 1893

Lieutenant (j.g.), Philadelphia

July 1894

Lieutenant, Office of Naval Intelligence

January 1895

Lieutenant, Office of Naval Intelligence

January 1896

Lieutenant, Office of Naval Intelligence

January 1897

Lieutenant, Alert

January 1898

Lieutenant, Alert

Others at this command:

January 1899

Lieutenant, Philadelphia

Others at this command:

Class of 1877

Philip is one of 4 members of the Class of 1877 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.