John Henry Rose

John Henry Rose. Researched and written by Camille Arbogast.

John Henry Rose was born on July 26, 1877, likely in Charleston, South Carolina. Few specifics are known about John’s life.

It is possible that he was the John Henry Rose who served in the Navy during the Spanish-American War, enlisting as a mess attendant in New York City on October 21, 1898, for a term of three years. On September 17, 1900, he was given an ordinary discharge for bad conduct. It was likely the same John H. Rose who served in the Coast Artillery in the early 20th century, first enlisting at Boston in 1904. He was discharged at the end of his term on March 21, 1907, at Fort Howard, Maryland. On July 17, 1910, he reenlisted in the Coast Artillery at Fort Slocum in New York. This term ended on July 17, 1913, and he was again discharged at Fort Howard. At the end of both terms his service was described as “good.”

On October 4, 1913, John enlisted in the Army, giving Dorchester as his place of residence. It is likely he rejoined the Coast Artillery. He may have been assigned to the Coast Defenses of Long Island Sound, as during the First World War he served in the 56th Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps, which was partially formed from members of the Connecticut Coast Artillery. In the 56th Artillery, John served in the Ordinance Department and the Supply Company, first as a corporal, later promoted to sergeant.

John departed for France on March 28, 1918, sailing from New York City on the RMS Olympic. Each soldier was required to provide contact information for a person to be notified in case of emergency; John’s contact was Nettie L. Whitney of 568 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, described as a friend. Nettie Louise Whitney was the unmarried daughter of one of the founders of the Pratt & Whitney Company, a Hartford-based machine tool manufacturer.

The 56th Artillery arrived in Brest, France, on April 5, 1918. While overseas, servicemen were considered part of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). John’s service in the AEF ended on July 13, 1918, a little over two weeks before the 56th Artillery completed their training in Clermont-Ferrand and headed to the front. It is unclear why John’s AEF service ended at this time or when he returned to the United States. John was honorably discharged on May 28, 1919.

In September 1919, a guardian was appointed for John. By this time, he was a patient at

Saint Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C. where many servicemen suffering from shell shock and other disorders were treated after the war. As he was no longer able to make his War Risk Insurance payments, a guardian was necessary to ensure he did not lose his insurance benefits. In January 1920, John appeared on the federal census listed amongst the patients at Saint Elizabeths. Hearings related to his mental state were held in the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of Washington D.C. in September 1920 and October 1924.

In 1926, his guardian, Frederick A Fenning, who was also the Washington, D.C. District Commissioner, faced impeachment charges. Fenning was accused of being “the head of a ‘lunacy ring’ at Saint Elizabeths, having appointed himself guardian to some 100 veterans, collecting a fee of ten percent of their incomes for his services. A Congressional hearing held before a House subcommittee severely criticized Fenning, and he ultimately resigned, made retributions to the veterans under his guardianship, and relinquished oversight of their care to their relatives. John was one of the veterans Fenning was ordered to make a final accounting of in January 1927, probably when Fenning’s guardianship of John ended. At the time of the Fenning hearing, a number of veterans from Saint Elizabeths were moved to facilities closer to their families, including a large number who were relocated to U.S. Veterans Hospital Number 62 in Augusta, Georgia. John may have been part of this group. He was a patient at the Augusta facility by 1940 when he was recorded on the 1940 census as a resident of the hospital.

John died in Richmond County, Georgia, on May 13, 1953.


Military, Compiled Service Records. World War I. Carded Records. Records of the Military Division of the Adjutant General’s Office, Massachusetts National Guard.

“United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917-1940,” database, citing Military Service, NARA microfilm publication 76193916 (St. Louis: National Archives and Records Administration, 1985);

Abstracts of Spanish-American War Military and Naval Service Records, 1898–1902. Adjutant General’s Office. New York State Archives, Albany, NY;

Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, National Archives, Washington, D.C.;

The 56th Artillery, CAC. Transcription of original records 16 April 1920, National Archives Records Administration, Washington D.C. Record Group 165 War Dept. General and Special Staff. History of the 56th CAC Regt. Box 330, 4W2/26/10/D Transcribed by Joe Hartwell 18 November, 1998  <>

Kirk, Frank H. History of Battery D, 56th Artillery, Coast Artillery Corps.

Lists of Outgoing Passengers, 1917-1938. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774-1985. The National Archives at College Park, MD;

Charges of Impeachment Against Frederick A. Fenning, Hearing Before the Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives, Sixty-Ninth Congress, First Session on House Resolution 228. Serial 22. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1926;

1920, 1940 U.S. Federal Census;

“The Daily Legal Record,” The Washington Post, Sep 14 1920; 5;

“The Daily Legal Record,” The Washington Post, 18 Oct 1924: 9;

Daniels, Jonathan. “Hammer Pushing District Inquiry,” News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), 25 March 1926;

Congressional Record, Sixty-Ninth Congress, 2nd Session, Vol 68. February 11-23 1927;

State of Georgia. Indexes of Vital Records for Georgia: Deaths, 1919-1998. Georgia Health Department, Office of Vital Records, 1998;



Posted on

April 9, 2022

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