Worth Bagley, born in Raleigh, N.C., on 6 April 1874, entered the Naval Academy in 1891. He graduated on 7 June 1895 and, after two years at sea as a passed midshipman, was commissioned ensign on 1 July 1897. At the beginning of hostilities between the United States and Spain late in Apri1 1898, Bagley was serving in Winslow (Torpedo Boat No. 5), a ship that was soon on blockade station off the northern coast of Cuba.
On 11 May 1898, Winslow left her position for Cardenas to replenish her coal bunkers from one of the larger warships located there. When she reached Cardenas, the senior officer present, the commanding officer of Wilmington (Gunboat No. 8) ordered her to reconnoiter Cardenas Bay for mines in company with the revenue cutter Hudson. The negative report on the mines that the two small ships made at the completion of their mission prompted Wilmington's commanding officer to decide to take his ship into the bay to search for three Spanish gunboats reportedly lurking there. Bagleys ship and Hudson served as escorts. At about 3,000 yards from Cardenas, a lookout caught sight of a small, gray steamer moored alongside the wharf. Winslow moved in for a closer look. At about 1335 that afternoon, Bagleys torpedo boat reached a point about 1,500 yards from the wharf when a puff of smoke announced the beginning of an artillery duel that lasted an hour and 20 minutes. Winslows 1‑pounder responded, and then Spanish shore batteries opened on her. The little torpedo boat bore the brunt of Spanish fury and quickly suffered a number of hits.
The first shell to strike Winslow put both her steam and manual steering out of action. While members of her crew tried to rig some type of auxiliary steering gear, Ens. Bagley carried orders to the after engine room hatch in order to keep the warship maneuvering with her propellers. However, at one point the ship swung broadside to the enemy batteries, and a shell knocked out her port main engine. Wilmington and Hudson came to the rescue with their larger guns, and Winslow requested Hudson to tow her out of action. While the two ships attempted to make fast a towline, a shell burst near the after engine room hatch, slaying Bagley and four enlisted men. He was the only naval officer killed in action in the Spanish‑American War.
David Worth Bagley, the brother of Ens. Worth Bagley, was born in Raleigh, N.C., on 8 January 1883. He attended North Carolina State College in 1898 and 1899 before entering the Naval Academy in 1900. After graduating on 4 February 1904, he went to sea in Missouri (Battleship No. 3) attached to the North Atlantic Fleet. In December 1905, Passed Midshipman Bagley was reassigned to the Asiatic Fleet and served successively in Concord (Gunboat No. 3) and West Virginia (Armored Cruiser No. 5). While in Concord, he was commissioned ensign on 2 February 1906. He was detached from West Virginia in March of 1907 and, the following year, reported on board Rhode Island (Battleship No. 17) of the Atlantic Fleet and made the voyage around the world in her with the Great White Fleet. In April 1909, he left Rhode Island and went to the General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y., for a year of instruction. He then became aide and flag lieutenant to the Commander, 2d Division, Atlantic Fleet, in April 1910.
After a similar tour of duty on the staff of the Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, and a two‑month furlough, he reported for duty at the Naval Academy in September 1912. Two years later, Bagley returned to sea as first lieutenant 1n Michigan (Battleship No. 27) serving with the Atlantic Fleet. He got his first command in September 1915 when he took over Drayton (Destroyer No. 23). During the first month of 1917, Bagley moved from Drayton to Jacob Jones (Destroyer No. 61). By May 1917, he and his ship were conducting antisubmarine patrols and convoy escort missions in the western approaches to the British Isles. Later, his area of operations widened to include the Irish Sea and the English Channel.
On 6 December 1917, Bagley conned his ship out of Brest harbor. At about 1621 that afternoon, the watch spied a torpedo wake. The destroyer maneuvered to avoid the torpedo, but in vain. It struck her starboard side and pierced her fuel oil tank. Though Bagley and his crew worked frantically to save the ship, she went down within eight minutes carrying 64 crewmen with her. Bagley and 37 others made it into the icy water in boats and on rafts, and, thanks to the humanitarian gesture by Kapitänleutnant Hans Rose, the U‑boat commander who radioed their location to Queenstown, they were all picked up by the 8th. Bagley earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his part in handling the situation.
He returned to the United States after the sinking of Jacob Jones and became the prospective commanding officer of Lea (Destroyer No. 118) then under construction at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He put her into commission on 2 October 1918, but commanded her only until January 1919 when he became the American port officer at Rotterdam in the Netherlands with additional duty as the assistant naval attaché in the American legation at The Hague. He later served as naval attaché before returning to the United States in December 1921 for a tour of duty ashore in the Office of Naval Intelligence. In March of 1922, Bagley returned to sea in command of Reno (DD‑303) and as Commander, Destroyer Division 32, Pacific Fleet. He transferred to command of Division 35, Destroyer Squadrons, Battle Fleet, in August 1923. Bagley went ashore again in May 1924 for another two‑year tour of duty at the Naval Academy. At the end of the academic year in 1926, he left the Academy to become chief of staff to the Commander, Naval Forces, Europe, embarked in Memphis (CL‑13). In April 1927, Bagley moved to the 9th Naval District as the assistant (later changed to chief of staff) to the commandant with temporary additional duty as acting commanding officer of the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes.
He returned to sea in December 1931 as the commanding officer of heavy cruiser Pensacola (CA‑24), then serving in the Atlantic with Cruiser Division (CruDiv) 4, Scouting Fleet. That assignment lasted until May 1933 when Bagley was called to Washington, D.C., for duty in the Bureau of Navigation. He later became assistant bureau chief. In May 1935, orders sent him to Newport, R.I., to attend the Naval War College. Upon completing the senior course, he remained there as a member of the staff. Next came a year of duty as Commander, Destroyer Squadron 20, Destroyers, Scouting Fleet. From July 1937 to May 1938, he served as Commander Minecraft, Battle Force. While in that position, he was promoted to flag rank to date from 1 April 1938. In May of that year, Rear Admiral Bagley began a 32‑month tour of duty as Commandant, Mare Island Navy Yard. At the beginning of 1941, he broke his flag in Tennessee (BB‑43) as Commander, Battleship Division 2. He was serving in that command billet when his flagship was slightly damaged on 7 December 1941 during the Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor.
On 4 April 1942, Bagley relieved Rear Admiral Claude C. Bloch as Commandant, 14th Naval District, and Commander, Hawaiian Sea Frontier, and he served in that capacity until January 1943. On 1 February 1943, he assumed command of the Western Sea Frontier and, on 30 March 1943, added the duties of Commandant, 11th Naval District. He held the latter office only until January of 1944, but continued to head the Western Sea Frontier until the following fall. Promoted to vice admiral to date from 1 February 1944, he was relieved of duty as Commander, Western Sea Frontier, on 17 November 1944. Eleven days later, Vice Admiral Bagley returned to Oahu and resumed duty as Commandant, 14th Naval District, and served in that position until ordered to Washington on 25 July 1945. On 20 August, Bagley reported for duty in the office of the Chief of Naval Operations and served on the International Defense Board, the United States‑Mexican Defense Commission, and the Permanent Joint Board on Defense. Vice Admiral Bagley was relieved of all active duty on 22 March 1946 and was placed on the retired list with the rank of admiral on 1 April 1947. Admiral Bagley died at the Naval Hospital, San Diego, Calif., on 24 May 1960.
The first three Bagleys; Torpedo Boat No. 24, Destroyer No. 185, and DD‑386 were named for Ens. Worth Bagley. The fourth, DE‑1069, honors both Worth Bagley and his brother, Admiral David W. Bagley.
The first Bagley (Torpedo Boat No. 24) was laid down on 4 January 1900 at Bath, Maine, by the Bath Iron Works; launched on 25 September 1900; sponsored by Mrs. Josephus Daniels; and commissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 18 October 1901, Ens. Willis McDowell in command.
By 30 June 1902, Bagley was operating out of the Norfolk Navy Yard. She was placed in commission, in reserve, at Norfolk on 19 February 1903. She remained in the Reserve Torpedo Flotilla at Norfolk until 14 September 1907 when she returned to full commission. Two days later, Bagley began an eight‑month tour of duty at Annapolis, Md., training Naval Academy midshipmen. She returned to the Norfolk Navy Yard on 9 June 1908 and the next day was placed back in reserve there.
The torpedo boat returned to the Naval Academy sometime between 1 July 1908 and 30 June 1909 and served there until sometime in 1911 when she was placed in reserve at Annapolis. She was placed in ordinary at Annapolis on 13 March 1914. By 30 June 1915, however, she had returned south to the Norfolk Navy Yard. On 29 March 1917, just before America entered World War I, Bagley was returned to full commission. She then moved north to New York where she spent the remainder of the war patrolling New York harbor. On 1 August 1918, her name was reassigned to Destroyer No. 185 then under construction at Newport News, Va., and she became Coast Torpedo Boat No. 10. Retaining that designation for the remainder of her career, she was decommissioned at New York on 12 March 1919. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 31 March 1919; and she was sold on 9 April 1919 to Mr. Reinhard Hall, of Brooklyn, New York.
Raymond A. Mann
23 September 2005