The fourth U.S. Navy ship named Bailey and the third named for Theodorus Bailey, born on 18 April 1805 at Chateaugay in the far northeastern corner of Franklin County, N.Y., near the border with Québec, Canada. Bailey 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 Cyane, an ex-British sloop that U.S. 44-gun frigate Constitution, Capt. Charles Stewart in command, captured during a battle about 180 miles off Madeira on 20 February 1815. Stewart took 26-gun Cyane, commanded by Capt. Gordon T. Falcon, RN, and 20-gun sloop Levant, Capt. the Honorable George Douglas, RN, during the brief duel. A prize court adjudicated Cyane’s seizure, and the Navy purchased and commissioned the ship into U.S. service.
Cyane, Capt. Edward Trenchard in command, completed repairs and fitted out at New York Navy Yard (1818–1819). On 3 March 1819 meanwhile, Congress passed an act that authorized President James Monroe to use the Navy to suppress American participation in the West African slave trade. The following year, the Navy established the African Squadron to carry out the patrols, and to support black volunteers who sailed to the Pepper Coast to create a colony for freed slaves, which later became Liberia. Following her refit, Cyane set out to join the squadron and to patrol West African waters (early 1820–December 1821).
Bailey sailed on his maiden deployment with a number of men who would make their mark in naval history including: Lt. Matthew C. Perry, who was to play a leading role in opening Japan to the Western world; Lt. Silas H. Stringham, who would seize the Confederate forts at Hatteras Inlet early in the American Civil War; Lt. William Mervine, who would fight in both the Mexican-American and Civil Wars; and Lt. John B. Montgomery. Their voyage proved an eventful one.
Trenchard suspected that while slavers conducted their heinous work they sometimes lay to off the Gallinas River, which flows into the Atlantic between Grand Cape Mount and Cape Saint Ann. Cyane approached the river under cover of darkness in order to surprise any slavers in the area and sighted seven ships. Despite the odds in the event that the slavers decided to concentrate their ships and attack the outnumbered Americans, Trenchard aggressively pursued and captured six of the vessels (5–12 April 1820).
A fresh breeze touched the air as the 5th dawned and the slavers and the Americans all heeled over under clouds of canvas on the port tack. Trenchard maneuvered so as to prevent the ships from scattering and hemmed them in along the coast. The wind fell at 7:00 a.m. and Cyane continued to pursue her prey but also launched her first cutter, Lt. Stringham in command, and starboard quarter-boat, Lt. Montgomery, and within the hour Stringham overtook one of the fleeing vessels, schooner Endymion, Master Alexander M. Andrews out of Baltimore, Md. The schooner lowered a boat and Andrews clambered in and the crewmen rowed for shore, but Cyane’s cutter chased and captured Andrews and his men. Midshipman Henry C. Newton and a prize crew boarded and took charge of Endymion.
The wind picked up and the two boats returned to Cyane and she resumed the chase. Endymion retrieved Montgomery and the quarter-boat and followed the sloop, but the elements impeded the pursuit again as the wind died down toward noon. Trenchard dispatched Stringham in the first cutter, Lt. Philip H. Voorhees in the launch, and Lt. Mervine in the second gig, and they all continued the chase and seized: brig La Annita, Master A.D. Pedro Puche of Matanzas; Spanish schooner Esperanza (ex-Revenue Cutter Service Alert), Master Lewis Mumford of Charleston, S.C.; Danish schooner Dasher, Master Thomas Monro, out of St. Eustatius in the Caribbean; schooner Eliza, Master Constant Hastings of Marinico [Maritinque, also in the Caribbean]; and schooner Louise, Master Francoine Sablon, of Matanzas, Cuba. Stringham and a prize crew boarded and took charge of Esperanza, Acting Master’s Mate Jacob Morris boarded Dasher, Midshipman Francis Sanderson went to Eliza, and Midshipman A. Hosack took charge of Louise.
The boarders inspected their prizes and discovered evidence of the brutal human trafficking. Trenchard reported to Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson that upon examining Endymion, “we are of the opinion that the sole object of her being in this place is the procuring of slaves; indeed we have good evidence that she has her cargo of slaves nearly completed, and that they are now confined in irons at a town near the river called Seymoboe. She is completely fitted, for the accommodation of slaves, has on board several thousand gallons of water, and a very large quantity of rice, the common food of negroes. She is owned, per register, by a Mr. William P. Strike of Baltimore, is under American colors, and is evidently acting in contravention to the laws of the United States. We have also examined the other vessels embraced in your [Secretary Thompson’s] order, and find that they are all deeply engaged in the traffic of slaves. There is but one, however, of those under foreign flags that we can ascertain as acting in contravention to the above law.”
The boarders discerned that Esperanza sailed under Spanish colors from Charleston without a clearance, and that Mumford was a Spaniard under an apparent alias and that her real captain, an American by the name of Ratcliffe, was ashore overseeing the seizure of slaves. Two other vessels, Maria Gatthreust or Plattsburg of Baltimore and Science or Dechosa, owned by E. Mallebran of New York, sailed in the area and Cyane intercepted them as well. Trenchard and his crew failed to discover much of Maria Gatthreust’s identity or background, except that she had sailed from Baltimore in December 1819, surreptitiously changed her appearance -- and likely her name as well -- when she touched at Cuba, and then made for West African waters. The ship rode heavily armed and manned by a large number of crewmen, and Trenchard deduced that she might also operate as a pirate if the opportunity presented itself. They had more success with Science, however, and learned that the slaver had set out from New York in January 1820, changed her name when she reached Puerto Rico, and landed cargo upon touching African shores, where she intended to take slaves on board. The boarders rounded up the men they suspected of being slavers, placed them on board Eliza, and sailed her to the United States.
Cyane continued to search for slavers and touched at a number of points including Shebro [Sherbro Island] off Sierra Leone on 27 March 1820, Porto da Praia in the Cape Verde Islands on 19 May, Madeira, and the Senegal River, and then came about for the Caribbean. The ship visited Grand Port on St. Vincent in the Grenadines on 17 October, but tropical fever ravaged the crew and Trenchard grew “extremely anxious” to obtain orders to come about. In the interim, the Americans employed Krumen, an indigenous West African people, to load provisions on board the ship at Sierra Leone. Fever continued to strike down the crew, however, and on 20 April 1821, the captain reported 36 men on the sick list. The Navy consequently ordered the ship to return to the United States, and 20-gun brig-rigged sloop-of-war Hornet, Master Commandant George C. Read, relieved Cyane and the latter came about.
Cyane passed through the West Indies on her return voyage, where Bailey saw service in the fighting to suppress pirates, who increasingly plagued ships sailing in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Their depredations caused widespread losses among the crews of the plundered ships and financial ruin to their owners, and Cyane hunted the reavers before she returned home. Midshipman Bailey then transferred to Franklin and served in the ship-of-the-line as she sailed as the flagship for the Pacific Station, which lasted until 1824. On 3 November of that year, Bailey’s former commander, Capt. Trenchard, died in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Bailey meanwhile served his last tour of duty as a midshipman in 12-gun schooner Shark, Lt. Otho Norris. The ship set out from New York and cruised (5 October 1825–29 August 1826) to the West Indies and Gulf of Mexico to battle pirates, and then returned to Norfolk, Va. Following that voyage, in 1827 he moved to duty in Fulton, a catamaran steam frigate housed over and used as a receiving ship at New York, and on 3 March there received his commission as a lieutenant, after almost a decade of service. Bailey next served briefly in 18-gun sloop-of-war Natchez, Cmdr. William B. Shubrick.
He married Sarah A. (née Platt), daughter of Isaac S. and Dorothy S. Platt, in New York City on 23 June 1830. Their union proved fruitful and produced six children (eldest–youngest): Ann P., Theodora, Sarah R., Mary, Margaret S., and Edmund S.
The following year, Bailey served in 12-gun schooner Grampus, Lt. Isaac Mayo, before being assigned to 18-gun sloop-of-war Vincennes, Cmdr. John H. Aulick, in June 1833, for a three-year cruise around the world in search of shipwrecked and stranded American seamen. During her voyage across the Pacific Vincennes anchored at Apra, Guam, on 19 November 1835. Returning to the east coast in June 1836, Bailey saw duty in 74-gun ship-of-the-line Ohio, in ordinary at New York, and then spent a two-year (1838–1840) tour at New York Navy Yard.
Bailey returned to sea in frigate Constellation (1840–1844). During that period, his ship deployed on an extended tour on the East India station and carried Lt. Bailey on his second circumnavigation of the world. Capt. Lawrence Kearny, Commander, East India Squadron, broke his flag in Constellation as she began, in March 1841, to safeguard American lives and property against loss in the 1st Opium War, fought between the British and the Chinese Qing dynasty. Bailey gained insight into diplomacy as the ship furthermore enabled American diplomats to negotiate commercial treaties. En route home in May 1843, Constellation touched at the Hawaiian Islands, where the Americans discovered a crisis brewing. British 26-gun frigate Carysfort, Capt. George Paulet, RN, had reached the islands and attempted to protect Britons ashore, who claimed that the Hawaiians denied them their legal rights, in particular, concerning some disputed land. The British negotiated with Hawaiian representatives of King Kamehameha III, but occupied the disputed land, and the Hawaiians and some Americans visiting the islands suspected that the British intended to establish a protectorate over the islands. Constellation’s arrival off Honolulu added weight to American negotiators’ attempts to help defuse the crisis, and thereafter she sailed homeward making calls at South American ports. After returning from the East Indies, Bailey went ashore again and spent time (1845–1846) engaged in recruiting duty in New York.
After the Mexican-American War broke out, Lt. Bailey began a new phase of his Navy career when he assumed his first command afloat, that of 24-gun sloop Lexington, in the summer of 1846. He embarked an artillery company at New York and set sail for the Pacific coast. Sailing by way of the turbulent waters off Cape Horn and La Paz, Chile, his ship reached the California coast late in the year. During the closing phase of the war, Bailey led his command in a blockade of the coast around San Blas in Lower California [Baja California Sur]. Lt. Frederick Chatard, the commanding officer of bark Witon, led a party of 47 including Bailey from Witon and Lexington that landed and carried off several of the Mexican guns that defended San Blas, on 12 January 1848. Bailey “rendered efficient and valuable aid” to Chatard by his “energy, enterprise, and gallantry in fitting out and leading numerous expeditions against the enemy.”
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 22-gun sloop-of-war St. Mary's, then under repair at Philadelphia, Pa. In her, Bailey cruised to the eastern and southern Pacific (1854, 1855, and 1856), also receiving his promotion to captain while in that assignment on 15 December 1855. Cmdr. Charles Davis and his crew relieved Bailey and his men at Panama City on 16 December 1856. Bailey spent the four years immediately preceding the American 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 Navy Yard, Mass., and set sail a fortnight later to join the Union’s Gulf Blockading Squadron. Colorado arrived at Key West on 9 July and at Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island off Pensacola, Fla., on the 15th. There, Bailey’s ship became flagship of the Gulf Blockading Squadron on 16 July when Flag Officer William Mervine embarked. The ships of the squadron blockaded the Confederate ports and hunted for blockade runners and privateers, and on 14 September Bailey dispatched Lt. John H. Russell and a party of 100 men in four boats from Colorado that destroyed Confederate schooner Judah at Pensacola. 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 Bailey technically retained command of Colorado until the beginning of May 1862, he performed other duties in conjunction with the assault on the vital Confederate port of New Orleans, La.
Rear Adm. David G. Farragut, Commander, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, resolved to force the passage of the Confederate defenses and compel the city’s surrender. Brig. Gen. Johnson K. Duncan, CSA, commanded the Southern troops that manned two bastions to defend the approaches to the bustling city, Fort Jackson on the Mississippi River’s western shore, and Fort St. Philip on the eastern bank. Their ships served in three separate forces, however, compounding command and control issues. Armored ram Manassas, Lt. Alexander F. Warley, CSN, in command, and uncompleted ironclads Louisiana and Mississippi comprised a trio of potentially powerful men-of-war, supplemented by a pair of converted merchantmen, Jackson and McRae. The River Defense Fleet, Flag Officer John K. Mitchell, CSN, in command, included cottonclad rams Defiance, General Breckinridge, General Lovell, Resolute, Stonewall Jackson, and Warrior. Further vessels included transport Diana, steam tenders Landis and W. Burton, tender Phoenix, and steamers Belle Algerine and Mosher. Finally, the Louisiana Provisional Navy deployed steamers General Quitman and Governor Moore. In addition, the Confederates linked hulks together by a huge chain and stretched them across the river to block Union ships from advancing up the Mississippi, and their efforts collectively posed a formidable challenge to any attacking force. Farragut led a total of 17 ships mounting 154 guns, supported by a flotilla of 20 mortar boats, Cmdr. David D. Porter in command.
On 18 April, Porter’s mortar boats began bombarding Fort Jackson. Capt. Henry H. Bell led a pair of gunboats, Itasca and Pinola, and broke through the boom two days later. Duncan lamented the lack of coordination between the disparate Confederate commands, and complained that the River Defense Fleet failed to send fire rafts “to light up the river or distract the attention of the enemy at night”, adding that they also neglected to deploy ships to warn of a Union incursion. The Confederate garrison of Fort Jackson resisted stoutly, however, and Farragut resolved to boldly advance his squadron up river past the forts, counting on darkness and the smoke from gunfire to help obscure his ships. The flag officer deployed his squadron in three divisions, the First (eight ships), Center (three), and Third (six), led by Bailey, Farragut, and Bell, respectively.
Farragut broke his flag in screw sloop-of-war Hartford as he led the Union ships up the Mississippi during the mid watch on 24 April 1862, at 2:00 a.m. signaling the three divisions to begin their perilous voyage. The ships of the three divisions concentrated in two columns and set out about an hour later, but as they approached the breach in the boom, enemy lookouts sighted their silhouettes and sounded the alarm. The Confederates opened a withering fire, and the Union ships blasted their way past with thunderous broadsides, though both sides failed to score many hits in the confusion of the night battle. Farragut’s daring move paid off as most of the Northern ships steamed through the torn boom, although a round incapacitated Itasca’s boilers and she drifted out of the fighting, while a pair of gunboats, Pinola and Winona, came about as the sun rose.
Some of the Confederate ships then attacked the Union squadron, but they did so piecemeal and a series of ship to ship duels ensued. Manassas churned toward the invaders and attempted to ram Pensacola but the steamer deftly turned and dodged her blow. The ram continued and in turn fired on and rammed Mississippi and sloop-of-war Brooklyn. Both Union ships survived and shot at the enemy ram, which also took fire from her own shore batteries in the fiery maelstrom. Mississippi then wrecked Manassas with two mighty broadsides, and Warley ordered his men to ground Manassas and set her alight to prevent the Northerners from capturing the ram. The Confederate sailors ignited their fires and abandoned ship, but Manassas defiantly floated free and drifted downstream past the Union mortar boats. Porter hoped to capture and examine the prize, but she eluded his grasp when she exploded and sank. Governor Moore and Stonewall Jackson rammed gunboat Varuna, Cmdr. Charles S. Boggs in command, which sank in the shallows, the only Northern ship lost in the battle. The Union ships sank General Breckinridge, General Lovell, Stonewall Jackson, Warrior, Phoenix, Belle Algerine, Mosher, and General Quitman. The Confederates scuttled Louisiana, Mississippi, Resolute, Defiance, and Governor Moore to prevent their capture. Landis and W. Burton struck their colors, and McRae was damaged but survived, only to sink at her moorings.
The high water in the river enabled the Union ships’ guns to range over the levee, and Farragut demanded the surrender of the doomed city the next day. On 26 April he issued a general order: “Eleven o’clock this morning is the hour appointed for all the officers and crews of the fleet to return thanks to Almighty God for His great goodness and mercy in permitting us to pass through the events of the last two days with so little loss of life and blood. At that hour the church pennant will be hoisted on every vessel of the fleet, and their crews assembled will, in humiliation and prayer, make their acknowledgments therefor to the great dispenser of all human events.”
Farragut ordered Bailey to lead a party ashore and accept the city’s surrender. Accompanied only by Lt. George H. Perkins of the ship’s company, the pair made their way through hostile crowds of Southerners to the mint, where marines from screw steamer Pensacola raised the Stars and Stripes. Maj. Gen. Mansfield Lovell, CSA, Commander, Department 1, Louisiana, and Mayor Monroe, however, contentiously refused to surrender the city. Confrontations continued for days and on 1 May, Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s soldiers began landing to occupy the city. Farragut commended Bailey for his bravery and ability throughout the battle, and paid him the honor of bearing dispatches announcing the victory to Washington, D.C. — Bailey relinquished command of Colorado on 1 May. The capture of New Orleans deprived the Confederates of their largest city and a valuable port, and helped persuade the British and French to minimize their support of the Southerners. The victory also opened the lower Mississippi to further operations, and Farragut spent some days repairing his ships and then deployed them northward in additional attacks that netted Baton Rouge and Natchez.
Promoted to commodore on 16 July 1862, Bailey commanded the station at Sackett’s Harbor, N.Y., through that summer. Bailey’s health began to suffer but he resolutely requested active duty. The commodore headed south again in November 1862, and on 9 December relieved Acting Rear Adm. Lardner as flag officer commanding the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. In spite of his declining health, Bailey energetically sought to break up Confederate blockade running along the Florida coast until 6 August 1864 when, after a bout with yellow fever, he was nonetheless transferred to duty as the commandant at Portsmouth Navy Yard, N.H. 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, Bailey served as the commandant at Portsmouth until the latter part of 1867.
Rear Adm. Bailey died at Washington, D.C., on 10 February 1877, and was buried there in Oak Hill Cemetery. On 17 June 1880, Bailey’s wife Sarah passed away at New York and was interred alongside her husband at Oak Hill.
Mark L. Evans
13 February 2018
(DD-492: displacement 1,620: length 347'10"; beam 36'1"; draft 17'4"; speed 37 knots; complement 276; armament 4 5-inch, 5 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Benson)
The fourth Bailey (DD-492) was launched 19 December 1941 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Staten Island, N.Y.; sponsored by Mrs. Mary de Peyster Charles, grandaughter of Admiral Bailey; commissioned 11 May 1942, Lieutenant Commander F. D. Karns, Jr., in command; and reported to the Pacific Fleet.
On 11 December 1945, Bailey arrived at Boston and commenced pre-inactivation overhaul. She was place out of commission in reserve, at Chalreston, S. C., on 2 May 1946. Bailey was struck from the Navy listing on 1 June 1968 and disposed of during an exercise in which she was a target ship on 4 November 1969.
Updates pending for 1942 through 1946.
13 December 2005