Charles Francis Stokes – Rear Admiral, United States Navy


Retired Surgeon General of Navy Had Been in Declining Health for Several Years
Was In Three Campaigns
Served In Cuba, Philippines and China
Acted as President Roosevelt’s Surgeon

October 30, 1931 – Rear Admiral Charles Francis Stokes, retired Surgeon General of the Navy from 1910 to 1924, died in the Brooklyn Naval Hospital last night.  Dr. Stokes had been in declining health for several years.  He was 68 years old and is survived by his widow, Mrs. Charlotte Birmingham Stokes, whom he married in 1892, and a son, John S. Stokes.

Rear Admiral Stokes served in the Navy from 1889 until 1917 when he retired.  His duties carried him to Cuba during the Spanish-American War, to the Orient during the Boxer Rebellion and the Philippines during the insurrection.

He was a pioneer in abdominal surgery and devised the first-aid dressing which the Army and Navy used in modified form during the World War.  He also devised the Stokes splinter stretcher.

Dr. Stokes was a member of the Army and Navy Club and Theta Delta Chi fraternity and was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Stokes was born in New York and attended Adelphi Academy and the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn and the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, from which he was graduated in 1884.  He became an ambulance surgeon at Chambers Street Hospital the year before his graduation and, in 1884, was appointed house surgeon of Bellevue Hospital, receiving first honors in an examination among twenty men.

He entered the Navy as Assistant Surgeon in 1889 and achieved the rank of Surgeon on May 31, 1900.  During the Spanish-American War he was operating surgeon aboard the ambulance ship Solace and became executive surgeon of the Naval Hospital in 1899.  He was surgeon of the Buffalo in the Orient and from 1903 to 1906 was President Roosevelt’s surgeon.  At this time he was also Professor of Surgery at the Naval School in Washington.

Dr. Stokes commanded the United States Naval Hospital at San Juan, Puerto Rico from 1906 to 1908 and was recalled by the Navy Department to command the United States Hospital Ship for service with the Atlantic Fleet during the around-the-world cruise in 1908.

He was the first medical officer to command a hospital ship.  Dr. Stokes succeeded Presley M. Rixey as Surgeon General in 1910 and four years later was succeeded by William Brausted.

In announcing the appointment of Dr. Brausted, Josephus Daniels, then Secretary of the Navy, stated that never had the standing or the reputation of the Medical Corps of the Navy been as high as under the administration of Dr. Stokes.

Dr. Stokes was engaged in private practice in New York City from 1919 to 1928.  He was author of many monographs on military and general surgery and wrote the selections for the Navy drill book “First Aid,” “The Medical Department in Battle,” and “Military Hygiene.”

In 1915 Mayor John P. Mitchel appointed Dr. Stokes director of the New York City Retreat for Drug Addicts and Inebriates at Warwick in Orange County.

Military Honors Will Be Accorded Captain Charles F. Stokes and Colonel T. C. Turner

WASHINGTON, November 3, 1931 – The funeral service for Captain Charles Francis Stokes, Medical Corps, United States Navy, Retired, former Surgeon General of the Navy will be held in Arlington National Cemetery at 11 o’clock tomorrow morning with full military honors.  Captain Sydney K. Evans, a chaplain in the Navy, will officiate.  The honorary pall bears will be: Rear Admiral Frank B. Upham, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation; Rear Admiral C. E. Riggs, Surgeon General of the Navy; Brigadier General George Richards, Marine Corps; Captain Emory S. Land, Construction Corps, U.S.N.; Captain Arthur W. Dunbar; and Captain Theodore W. Richards.

The funeral service for Colonel Thomas Caldwell Turner, Untied States Marine Corps, will be held at Arlington at 2 o’clock on Thursday afternoon with full military honors.  Commander William A. Maguire, a chaplain in the Navy will officiate.  The honorary pallbearers will be: Representative J. J. Cochrane of Missouri; Rear Admiral William A. Moffett; Brigadier I. T. Myers; Captain W. G. Farrell; Captain D. C. McDougal; Lieutenant Colonel C. B. Sanderson; Lieutenant Colonel Philip H. Terrey; Lieutenant Colonel A. E. Randall; Major E. H. Brainard; Major F. T. Armstrong; Major W. H. Frank; Major Earl C. Long; and Major R. J. Mitchell.


  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/29/1931

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