Cogswell, James Kelsey was born on September 27, 1847 in Milwaukee. Son of George and Celestia Anne Jeannette (Stone) Cogswell.
Educated Milwaukee University, St. Aloysius Academy and public schools, 1855-1860, Racine College Grammar School, 1860-1862, United States Naval Academy at Newport, Rhode Island, and Annapolis, Maryland., graduate 1868.
Midshipman, S. Pacific Station, United States Ship Powhatan, 1869. Ensign United States Ship Saginaw, 1870-1871, wrecked on Ocean Island, Pacific Ocean. Master on Saranac and flagship Pensacola, Pacific Station.
Promoted in turn to Lieutenant, lieutenant commander. Served on Ticonderoga, Essex, Kearsarge, Tallapoosa, Marion on N. and S. Atlantic Stations. Shore duty at Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, and at Hydrographic Office, Washington.
Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard, insurance ordnance S. Boston Iron Works, Navy Yard, Washington. United States Battleship Oregon, 1897-1898. Promoted commander, 1899.
Lighthouse inspector, 1st district. Commander Marietta and Isla de Luzon, Asiatic Station, Philippine Islands. Promoted captain, 1904.
Commanded United States Ship Cleveland, N. Atlantic Station, 1903-1904. Retired with rank of rear-admiral, 1904. Advanced 5 numbers for service as Executive officer on United States Ship Oregon in Spanish War and battle of Santiago.