Theodorus Bailey--born on 18 April 1805 at Chateaugay in the far northeastern corner of Franklin County, N.Y., near the border with Quebec, Canada--received his early education at Plattsburgh, N.Y., before being appointed a midshipman at the beginning of 1818 at age 12. He saw his first sea duty in the frigate Cyane between 1819 and 1821 when she cruised to the western coast of Africa to protect the new colony of former slaves recently established by the United States. On the return voyage, he saw service in the campaign to suppress the West Indian pirates. In 1821, Midshipman Bailey transferred to the ship-of-the-line Franklin and served in her during her entire cruise as flagship for the Pacific station, which lasted until 1824. His last tour of duty as a midshipman came between 1824 and 1826 when he voyaged back to the West Indies in the schooner Shark to protect shipping from pirates again.
In 1827, he moved to duty in the receiving ship at New York. It was while in this assignment that he received his commission as a lieutenant on 3 March 1827 after almost a decade of service. Next, he served briefly in the sloop Natchez and in the schooner Grampus in 1831 before being assigned to Vincennes in June 1833 for a three-year cruise around the world in search of shipwrecked and stranded American seamen. Returning to the east coast in June 1836, Bailey saw duty in the ship-of-the-line Ohio before going ashore for a two-year tour at the New York Navy Yard from 1838 to 1840. Bailey returned to sea in the frigate Constellation between 1840 and 1844. During that period, his ship served an extended tour on the East India station and carried Lt. Bailey on his second circumnavigation of the world. After returning from the East Indies, he went ashore again and spent time in 1845 and 1846 engaged in recruiting duty at the Rendezvous in New York.
After the Mexican War broke out in the spring of 1846, Lt. Bailey began a new phase of his Navy career when he assumed his first command afloat, that of the sloop Lexington, that summer. He embarked an artillery company at New York and set sail for the Pacific coast. Sailing by way of Cape Horn and La Paz, Chile, his ship arrived on the California coast late in the year. During the closing phase of the war Lt. Bailey led his command in a blockade of the coast around San Blas in Lower California and even made a successful raid on the town in January 1847, capturing several pieces of ordnance in the process.
In October 1848, Bailey left Lexington on the west coast to go ashore on a leave of absence from the service. He remained ashore waiting orders for almost five years, during which time on 6 March 1849, he received his promotion to commander. Finally, in 1853, he received orders to command the sloop of war St. Mary's then under repair at Philadelphia, Pa. In her, Comdr. Bailey cruised to the eastern and southern Pacific during 1854, 1855, and 1856, also receiving his promotion to captain while in this assignment on 15 December 1855. Relieved at Panama on 16 December 1856, Capt. Bailey spent the four years immediately preceding the Civil War ashore, first on some unspecified special duty and then awaiting orders.
The outbreak of the War Between the States brought Capt. Bailey the orders he sought. On 3 June 1861, he put steam frigate Colorado back in commission at Boston and set sail a fortnight later to join the Gulf Blockading Squadron. Colorado arrived at Key West on 9 July and at Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island off Pensacola on the 15th. There, Capt. Bailey's ship became flagship of the Gulf Blockading Squadron on 16 July when Flag Officer William Mervine embarked.
Bailey patrolled the waters off the Florida panhandle until mid-November at which time his ship moved to a blockade station off the Mississippi delta. Though Capt. Bailey technically retained command of Colorado until the beginning of May 1862, he was performing other duties in conjunction with the assault on the defenses of New Orleans by April 1862. When the push to take the city went off on 24 April, Capt. Bailey commanded one of the gunboat divisions during the fight to pass Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Once that feat had been accomplished, he continued on upriver to demand and receive the city's surrender on the 25th.
Capt. Bailey relinquished command of Colorado officially on 1 May 1862 and returned north with dispatches. Promoted to commodore on 16 July 1862, Bailey commanded the station at Sackett's Harbor, N.Y., through the summer of 1862. Heading south again in November 1862, Commodore Bailey relieved Acting Rear Admiral Lardner as flag officer commanding the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. He held that post until the summer of 1864 when, after a bout with yellow fever, he was transferred to duty as the commandant at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard. About halfway through that assignment, he received his promotion to rear admiral on 25 July 1866. Though placed on the retired list on 10 October 1866, Rear Admiral Bailey served as the commandant at Portsmouth until the latter part of 1867.
Rear Admiral Bailey died at Washington, D.C., on 10 February 1877.
The name source for the first Bailey, the Coast Survey schooner that served the Navy briefly at the beginning of the Civil War, remains a mystery. All three Navy warships, on the other hand, were named in honor of Rear Admiral Theodorus Bailey.
(Destroyer No. 269: displacement 1,215 tons; length 314'4½"; beam 30'11½"; draft 10'3¼" (full load) (aft); speed 34.5 knots (trial); complement 109; armament: 4 4-inch guns, 1 3-inch gun, 3 Lewis machine guns, 12 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Clemson)
The third Bailey (Destroyer No. 269) was laid down on 1 June 1918 at Squantum, Mass., by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 5 February 1919; sponsored by Miss Rosalie Fellows Bailey; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 27 June 1919, Comdr. Alexander Sharp in command.
After fitting out at Boston, Bailey arrived at Newport, R.I., on 21 August to take on board her assigned torpedo equipment. Then, proceeding via Greenport Harbor, Long Island, Bailey visited New York from 28 August to 3 September before heading back to Newport for a brief visit. Returning to New York late on 12 September, the destroyer joined three of her sister ships and set out for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on 17 September. Pausing there from the 20th to the 22d, Bailey departed Guantanamo Bay on 22 September, bound for Panama.
After transiting the Panama Canal in company with Dorsey (Destroyer No. 117) on 25 and 26 September, Bailey departed Balboa on the latter day, bound for the coast of Mexico. On "despatch duty" en route, Bailey visited the Honduran ports of Punta Arenas and Amapala on 4 and 5 October, respectively, before she fueled from Edwards (Destroyer No. 265) on the 7th. Arriving at Salina Cruz on the 8th, Bailey cleared that Mexican port on 10 October and headed for her assigned base, San Diego, which she reached on the 13th.
As the post World War I economy shrank the funds available for American naval operating forces, Bailey seldom got underway for extended periods during the remaining months of 1919. Her time at sea was limited largely to sub caliber runs, gun trials, and full power runs in late November and a stint of target practice in early December. The year 1920 saw Bailey operate almost exclusively in the waters off the coast of southern California and along the Mexican Pacific seaboard from her base at San Diego, Punctuating periods lying nested with other with destroyers came two visits to Manzanillo, Mexico, one to Mazatlan and two periods of upkeep and repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard. On 17 July 1920, she was designated DD 269 when the Navy adopted the alphanumeric system of hull classification and identification.
Bailey's sphere of operations expanded northward to cover the waters of the Pacific northwest. Departing San Diego on 25 March 1921, Bailey touched briefly at San Francisco en route, and reached the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Wash., on 31 March. She spent April, May, and June at the yard, undergoing a major overhaul, before visiting Seattle, Wash., and San Francisco on the way south to her home base. Bailey tarried at San Diego only very briefly before heading north to visit Aberdeen, Seattle, and Bellingham, Wash.; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Marshfield, Oreg. Interspersed were periods spent at the Puget Sound Navy Yard and at San Francisco before she returned to San Diego early in September. There she remained until decommissioned and placed in reserve on 15 June 1922.
Bailey remained idle for nearly two decades. War in Europe, which began with Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, however, resulted in the expansion of the Navy to meet the needs of a Neutrality Patrol soon established off America's coasts. Until new construction destroyers could join the fleet, their older cousins had to leave "red lead row" to fill the breach. Accordingly, Bailey was recommissioned at the Destroyer Base, San Diego, on 6 November 1939, Lt. Comdr. Henry E. Richter in command.
Bailey proceeded to the Mare Island Navy Yard on 9 December 1939. There, on the 15th, Comdr. Edward H. Jones relieved Lt. Comdr. Richter in command of the ship and assumed the concurrent role of Commander, Destroyer Division 72. Departing Mare Island on 18 January 1940, the ship returned to the destroyer base at San Diego where she completed reactivation work. Bailey sailed for Panama on 5 February in company with three of her sister ships. Transiting the Panama Canal on 16 February, Bailey shifted to the Submarine Base, Coco Solo, the following day. While there, her crew manned the rail on 18 February to honor President Roosevelt who was inspecting the base. Underway for the east coast soon thereafter in company with Williams (DD 108), Bailey touched at Key West, Fla., and arrived at her new base, Galveston, Tex., on the 29th.
Assigned to the West Gulf Patrol, Bailey operated out of Galveston through late June 1940, carrying out four patrols between 7 March and 13 May. In the course of these, she principally steamed off Mexican gulf ports such as Tampico and Vera Cruz to keep an eye on shipping moving in the area and occasionally ran into the storms, or "northers," that give mariners in the area headaches. Handicapped by a disabled engine on her fourth patrol, Bailey underwent repairs at Galveston between 14 May and 25 June. After running trials, she departed Galveston for the last time on 29 June, bound for Key West.
From that port, the destroyer steamed via St. Augustine, Fla., to Jacksonville where she arrived on the 5th. The following day, the destroyer embarked Naval reservists for a two week training cruise to Guantanamo Bay. Visiting San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the course of this first training cruise, Bailey, accompanied by Shubrick (DD 268), carried out battle practice on the outbound trip and antiaircraft practices on the return leg. The embarked reservists manned the destroyer’s antiaircraft machine guns and fired at a kite target streamed by the ship. Disembarking the reservists at Jacksonville on 18 July, Bailey sailed via Charleston to Norfolk, where she arrived on 25 July. Over the next few months, Bailey conducted three more reserve training cruises, with units from Richmond, Va., and New York City. Two of these saw the ship steam to Guantanamo and back, while she conducted the third in the waters of the Southern Drill Grounds off the Virginia capes. Winding up her last reserve cruise while moored in the Hudson River on 20 September, Bailey spent the rest of September and much of October at the New York Navy Yard before returning to Norfolk.
After a few weeks at Norfolk, she proceeded via Newport and Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she arrived on the morning of 21 November. Embarking a "British Indoctrinal Unit" on 24 November, Bailey conducted a brief familiarization cruise for those sailors. Decommissioned at Halifax on 26 November 1940 and turned over to the Royal Navy that same day, the destroyer was renamed Reading--to honor towns both in England and the United States--and was given the pennant number G.71. Assigned to the Fifth "Town class" Flotilla, Reading sailed for the British Isles soon thereafter and, proceeding via Belfast, reached Plymouth, England, on 17 December 1940. In the United States, her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 8 January 1941.
Reading worked out of Liverpool, escorting Atlantic convoys. In May 1941, she was assigned to the 8th Escort Group and, while serving therein at the end of June 1941, escorted Convoy WS 9B carrying troops and military stores from the Clyde via the Cape of Good Hope to the Middle East. Reallocated to the Newfoundland Escort Force in July 1941, she served with escort groups of destroyers and corvettes. Refitted at Liverpool between September 1941 and February 1942, Reading resumed her duties with the Newfoundland Escort Force until determined to be in need of another refit that spring. Arriving in the Thames on 20 May 1942, the destroyer remained in dockyard hands through September. In October 1942, she was allocated for duty as a target vessel for aircraft operating from the Royal Navy air station at Fearn, Scotland. She continued this employment until July 1945 when she was handed over to the shipbreakers at Rosyth, Scotland. Her scrapping was completed at Inverkeithing by 24 July 1945.
Robert J. Cressman
13 December 2005