Alexander Dallas Bache--born on 19 July 1806 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania--graduated from the Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1825 and served in the Army for three years. He resigned his commission to accept a position as professor of natural science and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Bache was also in charge of research at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute. In 1836, he became the first president of Girard College and, soon thereafter, embarked upon a two-year period studying European educational systems. Upon his return to the United States, Bache set about reorganizing Philadelphia public schools. In 1843, he became superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, an office he held for the rest of his life. Bache was a regent of the Smithsonian Institution from 1846. He died on 17 February 1867 in Newport, Rhode Island.
George Mifflin Bache--born on 12 November 1840 at Washington, D.C.--was appointed midshipman on 9 November 1857. Graduating from the Naval Academy just after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Passed Midshipman Bache went to sea in the sloop Jamestown that operated along the Atlantic coast of the Confederacy. Later, he served briefly in the steam sloop Powhatan before transferring to the squadron on the Mississippi River late in 1862. On 8 November 1862, he received orders to assume command of the stern wheel, casemate gunboat Cincinnati. Lt. Bache commanded the gunboat during operations leading up to the fall of Vicksburg, Miss., early in July of 1863. During those operations, however, his ship was sunk on 27 May 1863 while dueling Confederate batteries defending the river approaches to the city.
That summer, he took command of the sidewheel gunboat Lexington and led her in a number of engagements with Confederate forces. In 1864, he returned to the Atlantic blockade as executive officer of Powhatan. While assigned to that ship, Lt. Bache participated in both the unsuccessful and successful assaults on Fort Fisher, N.C., carried out in December 1864 and January 1865. In the latter attack, he was wounded but not severely. Following the Civil War, he served in Sacramento until she was destroyed on a reef at the mouth of the Godavary River, Madras, India, on 19 June 1867. Between 1869 and 1872, Lt. Comdr. Bache was assigned to the steam sloop Juniata on the European Station. After that, he went ashore to ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard until his retirement on 5 April 1875. Comdr. Bache died on 11 February 1896 at Washington, D.C.
The first Bache--a Coast and Geodetic Survey steamer originally known as A. D. Bache--was named for Alexander Dallas Bache while Bache (DD-470) was named for Comdr. George Mifflin Bache.
(Steamer: tonnage 182; length 147'8"; beam 23'5"; draft 10'10")
A. D. Bache--steamer constructed in 1871 at Wilmington, Delaware, for the Coast and Geodetic Survey--conducted surveys for the Navy at Tortugas Harbor in 1897. After battleship Maine exploded and sank in Havana harbor in February 1898, the Navy used the ship to transport divers and other salvage workers to Havana and to evacuate the injured. That summer, she went to Baltimore for repairs. Accounts of what happened thereafter are in conflict. One source indicates that the repairs never occurred, that she was condemned to the shipbreakers, and that her hull was sold to the Navy for experimental purposes. Other sources, however, indicate that, A. D. Bache was substantially rebuilt at Shooter's Island, N.Y., in 1901. In any event, a ship--styled simply as Bache--served the Coast and Geodetic Survey after 1901. On 24 September 1917, that ship was transferred to the Navy. She served with the section patrol in the 5th Naval District, operating out of Norfolk, Virginia, until the end of World War I. On 21 June 1919, she was returned to the custody of the Coast and Geodetic Survey.
Raymond A. Mann
8 March 2006