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James Henry Gillis
File:Commodore James H. Gillis.JPG
Born (1831-05-14)May 14, 1831
Died December 6, 1910(1910-12-06) (aged 79)
Place of birth Ridgway, Pennsylvania
Place of death Melbourne Beach, Florida
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1854–1893
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held USS Michigan
USS Franklin
USS Lackawanna
USS Minnesota
USS Hartford

American Civil War

James Henry Gillis (14 May 1831 – 6 December 1910) was an Rear Admiral in the United States Navy. His active-duty career extended from the 1850s through the 1890s, including service in the American Civil War.


Born in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, Gillis graduated from the Naval Academy in 1854. Three years later, while serving in store ship Supply he rescued the crew of a foundered Argentine ship during a violent storm. During the Civil War he served with Union Squadrons blockading the Confederacy, and subsequently commanded Michigan, Franklin, the flagship of the European Squadron, Lackawanna, Minnesota, and Hartford, the flagship of the Pacific Squadron.

Gillis served on the frigate USS St. Lawrence at the beginning of the civil war, he participated in the defeat of the rebel privateer Petrel on July 28, 1861, off South Carolina.[1]

Appointed Rear Admiral in 1888, he retired on 14 May 1893. Known as the "Sailor with a charmed life" because he never lost a man at sea, Rear Admiral Gillis died at Melbourne Beach, Florida.


The destroyer USS Gillis (DD-260) was named for him and Commodore John P. Gillis.


  1. Hamersly, pg. 127
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
  • Hamersly, Lewis R. (1878). "The records of living officers of the U.S. navy & Marine corps: compiled from official sources". Lippincott Publishing. 

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