Vincendon Lezare Cottman was born on February 13, 1852 in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. In 1884 he was appointed a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. In October of 1888 Lt. Cottman was with the Navy Hydrographic Office. In 1899 Lt. Cottman was the Secretary of the International Marine Conference held in Washington, D.C.
On May 27, 1898 the U.S.S. Brutus was commissioned and Lieutenant V. L. Cottman was in command. The U.S.S. Brutus in June of 1898 took the monitor Monterey in tow and sailed from San Diego, California en-route to Manila in the Philippines, traveling more than 3,700 miles. The Brutus is famous for having been one of the ships that towed the U.S. Navy's largest floating dry-dock, the Dewy Dry-dock, from the U.S. East Coast to the Philippine Islands during 1905-06.
On December 15, 1899, the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy was reopened by the Americans and renamed, the Nautical School of the Philippine Islands. The superintendent of the school was commander V. L. Cottman. On December 25, 1899 commander Cottman was relieved in command by Lieutenant George Cooper.
Commander Cottman's next assignment was to be Captain of the newly commissioned monitor U.S.S. Wyoming (BM-10) which was commissioned on December 8, 1902. The newly commissioned Wyoming ran her trials and exercises in San Pablo Bay and in San Francisco Bay. Throughout the summer of 1903 the Wyoming cruised off the west coast of Mexico and into South American waters, where civil war threatened American lives and interests there.
On June 3, 1904 the U.S.S. Wyoming, under command of commander Cottman, along with torpedo boat destroyers U.S.S. Paul Jones and USS Preble, visited Ventura County, California. While the climactic conditions could hardly have been less favorable, hundreds of people braved the fury of wind and sea for two days and viewed three Coast defenders anchored offshore from Ventura. As a return for courteous these these extended by officers and crew the city of Ventura entertained her navel guests most royally. The officers were feasted at the Casitas and given a reception and ball at the armory. The Marines of the U.S.S. Wyoming paraded Main Street as the Ventura City band led the way. At noon the Marines were treated to a free barbecue as many adventures were narrated by those who visited the boats during the high seas. Thirty people were stranded upon returning in a small boat from the USS Paul Jones, and had to seek safety in the shadow of Santa Cruz Islands, where they remained until early the next morning. It was commander Cottman and the Wyoming that went to the rescue of those who were stranded. Commander Cottman's guests were taken on board as their clothes dried and remained on board all night.
The monitor Wyoming, Commander V. L. Cottman, Commanding, arrived that Hueneme, California and remained their for two days before steaming to Santa Barbara, California. The U.S. Navy vessel stopped here in order that the officers might be the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Henry T. Oxnard. Commander Cottman is a cousin of Mr. Oxnard, and his wife, Mrs. V . Cottman has for several weeks been the guest of Mrs. Oxnard. The captain is also a brother of N. R. Cottman, for several years manager of the Chino factory.
The officers including Commander Cottman are; Lieutenant Commander T. B. Griffin, executive officer; Lieutenant W. G. Miller, navigating officer; Lieutenant W. W. Bush, chief engineer; Lieutenant W. W. Dunbar, ships surgeon; Lieutenant S. P. Morton, Lt. G. L. P. Stone, paymaster; warrant officers: Neumann, Boone and Morrison, were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. Oxnard at dinner at their home near Hueneme, California, together with Mrs. Cottman, Ms. Potts, Miss Anna Perkins and Miss Constance Brown of Hueneme and James Oxnard and B. O. Sprague.
Mr. and Mrs. Oxnard gave a barbecue at McGrath's Beach, in honor of the visiting officers. At the barbecue grounds a pavilion for dancing was erected, music being furnished by a Santa Barbara orchestra and the place was made very attractive. Count Wormbrant presided over the barbecue. In this capacity the Count can't be beat. The meat for the barbecue was fine indeed, and added to the other relishes and delicacies provided a unique and tasty entertainment.
After the barbecue Commander Cottman and his officers returned the compliment to their entertainers and escorted as many as desired who wished to travel the choppy water to the monitor, where its wonders were duly explained and examined. A battleship is one of the greatest triumphs of modern engineering, and fills an observer with wonder and admiration for the brain that can seas and the heads and hands that execute and direct these floating fortresses.
Commander Cottman's next assignment after the Wyoming was at the Navy Yard in Puget Sound, Washington, where he was as of January 1907, Captain of the Navy Yard, under the command of Rear Admiral William Burwell. In the 1907 edition of the Naval register, Commander Cottman is listed as the senior grade Commander, and Commander John H. Gibbons is the junior.
Upon the retirement of Admiral Mead, Captain George A. Bicknell was promoted to Rear Admiral and Commander V. L. Cottman is promoted to Captain on February 8, 1907, Lieutenant Commander Thomas Snowden to be Commander, and Lieutenant William K. Gise to Lieutenant Commander. Rear Admiral Bicknell has been detached from duty as commandant of the Pensacola, Florida, Navy Yard and ordered to succeed rear Admiral Mead in command of the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Navy Yard. Captain L. C. Logan, who was recently relieved from command of the battleship Ohio, becomes Commandant of the Pensacola Navy Yard.
On 1 October 1907 Admiral Brownson announces new Captains who will command the ships in Admiral Evans' Fleet. Among the 7 Battleships is the Newly constructed Cruiser USS California to be commanded by Captain Cottman. The Navy recently changed its policy of the length of term a captain will have command of his ship from the customary 2-year term to 18-months so as to allow for the benefit of a greater number of men who will have experience as ship captains.
On July 26, 1910 Rear Admiral John A. Rodgers, Commandant of the Bremerton Navy Yard at Puget Sound, Washington, retired at the statutory age limit of 62 years. He will go to Alaska to search for his son, who was lost in the wilderness there a year ago. Captain V. L. Cottman, who has been Captain of the Bremerton yard since September 1909, has been named commandant succeeding Rear Admiral Rodgers. Rear Admiral Thomas S. Phelps retired on November 7, 1910 at the statutory age limit of 62 years, resulting in the promotion of Captain Cottman to Rear Admiral on November 7, 1910. Rear Admiral Rodgers was one of the men who perfected the Navy's wireless system, and he had a fine record in the line. He entered the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1863, and had been commandant of the Bremerton Navy Yard since 1906 and made or Rear Admiral that same year.
In an article in the January 28, 1912, issue of the Washington Post, it was noted that the commander of the reserve squadron that will be organized on the Pacific Coast has not been selected, but Rear Admiral V. L. Cottman is mentioned for that duty. Rear Admiral Vincendon L. Cottman, commandant of the Navy Yard at Puget Sound, Washington, was retired due to mandatory age limits on February 13, 1914.
Rear Admiral Vincendon L. Cottman, United States Navy, retired, died at 7:15 pm March 15, 1917 at the residence of his brother in law, Captain Emil Theiss, United States Navy. The funeral was held in the home and was a private ceremony. Admiral Cottman was a native of Louisiana and was 65 years old. For many years he was on special duty at the Bureau of navigation. At the time of his retirement in 1914 he was commandant at the Navy Yard in Puget Sound, Washington. His wife, Mrs. Elizabeth K. Cottman, survives him.
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