Comprising the early life and public services of the prominent naval commanders who, with Grant and Sherman and their generals, brought to a triumphant close the great rebellion of 1861-1865. (First edition 1867)
(Return to table of contents of this book)
NATIVITY—EARLY IMPRESSIONS—APPOINTED MIDSHIPMAN—SENT TO THE COAST OF
AFRICA—CRUISE IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN—PLACED ON THE WEST INDIA STATION—MADE
LIEUTENANT—VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD—SECOND VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD—STATIONED
AT THE BROOKLYN NAVY YARD—ASSUMES AN
INDEPENDENT COMMAND—SAILS IN THE LEXINGTON FOR THE COAST OF MEXICO—SHERMAN,
HALLECK, AND ORD, THEN LIEUTENANTS, ACCOMPANY HIM—THEIR APPEARANCE—AN
INCIDENT OFF CAPE HORN IN A GALE—ARRIVAL IN CALIFORNIA—MEETS COMMODORE
STOCKTON AND FREMONT—HIS SERVICES ON THE COAST DURING THE MEXICAN WAR—A
PRACTICAL JOKE—CORRESPONDENCE WITH A BRITISH CAPTAINS ON BLOCKADE
RIGHTS—CRUISE IN THE PACIFIC—COMPELS ISLAND CHIEFS TO DO JUSTICE—AT PANAMA
AFTER THE MASSACRE OF AMERICANS—COMMANDS THE COLORADO IN COMMENCEMENT OF THE
WAR—BLOCKADES PENSACOLA—PLACED SECOND IN COMMAND IN THE EXPEDITION AGAINST
NEW ORLEANS—UNABLE TO GET HIS SHIP OVER THE BAR—DETERMINES TO LEAD IN
SOMETHING—ANECDOTE OF HIM—LEADS IN THE CAYUGA—THE COMBAT—DEMANDS THE
SURRENDER OF NEW ORLEANS—INTERVIEWS WITH THE MAYOR, LOVELL AND SOULE—SENT
HOME WITH DISPATCHES—PLACED IN COMMAND OF THE EASTERN GULF BLOCKADING
SQUADRON—EXHIBITS GREAT ENERGY AND EFFICIENCY—COMPLIMENTED BY THE
DEPARTMENT—HIS HOSPITALITY—ASTONISHES A SECESH VESTRY—SMITTEN DOWN BY THE
YELLOW FEVER—ATTEMPT TO BRIBE HIM —RETURNS NORTH.
THEODORUS BAILEY was born in
Franklin Co., New York State, in 1805, and received his education in Plattsburgh
academy. Although a lad of but eight or nine years of age, when McDonough won
his great victory over the British fleet off this place, the excitement caused
by the battle and the thousand and one stories connected with it must have made
a lasting impression on his mind, and perhaps had more to do with his eventually
entering the navy than he himself is aware of. The fame and deeds of such a hero
were well calculated to excite the ambition of a boy, living, as it were, in the
very focus of the excitement. Be that as it may, four or five years after, in
1818, he entered the naval service as midshipman, and for the next two years and
more he was learning his profession off the coast of Africa. He was then
transferred to the Franklin, which had been ordered to the Pacific Ocean. He was
absent on this cruise a little over one year, when he was transferred to the
Shark, and sent to the West India station. Here, at Natchez, and back again, he
was on duty nearly two years more.
In 1827, he was promoted to
lieutenant and placed on board the Grampus,
in which he served for six months. He was then ordered to the Vincennes,
about to start on a long cruise in the Pacific Ocean, and thence to China, and
so home by the Cape of Good Hope. He was absent two years and two months, and
made his first voyage round the world.
He was afterwards transferred
to the Constellation, which was
ordered on the same cruise. This time he was gone three years and eight months,
and made his second voyage round the world. He also served on board receiving
ships; and from 1838 to 1841 was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He
afterwards cruised in the East Indies, and also saw much shore duty.
In 1846, in the 21st year of
his lieutenancy, Bailey assumed for the first time an independent command. We
were then at war with Mexico, and he was ordered to the Lexington, which had been fitted up for the reception of troops and
military stores, to be conveyed from New York to a certain point on the western
coast of Mexico.
On the morning of sailing,
writes one who accompanied him, the “F” company of artillery, a fine body of
men, came on board at New York, under the command of Captain Tompkins. The first
lieutenant was a tall, spare man, apparently about thirty years of age, with
sandy hair and whiskers, and a reddish complexion. Grave in his demeanor, erect
and soldierly in his bearing, he was especially noticeable for the faded and
threadbare appearance of his uniform. That lieutenant is the present renowned
Major-General Tecumseh Sherman. He was characterized at that time by entire
devotion to his profession in all its details. His care for both the comfort and
discipline of his men was constant and unvaried.
There was another lieutenant,
short, rather "pony built," yet lithe and active as a cat—his
intellect bright and keen as his eyes-his movements indicative of nerve and
spirit-his name was Ord—Edward O. C. Ord, now Brigadier General, United States
A heavy-built, middle-sized
man also came on board, with cases containing chronometers, transits, and other
instruments. His black velvet trimmings and flat buttons, together with the
single bar upon his shoulder straps, indicated his rank as First Lieutenant of
Engineers—Henry Wager Halleck is his name. His high forehead was then smooth,
his complexion dark and ruddy, his black hair and ample beard were not yet
frosted by time and thought. He was never idle at sea or in port, in fair
weather or in storm, he was ever at work with book, chart, and pen—for he
always read with a pen in his hand. Whether in Brazil, Chili, Mexico, or
California, he examined everything with a military eye, taking copious notes and
drawings, especially of fortifications and their approaches.
Twenty-six days off Cape Horn,
in the winter season, in a succession of gales from the southwest, is not a
pleasant experience, even with the best of company.
Here Captain Bailey exhibited
conspicuously those high qualities which have ever secured for him in the Navy a
reputation for capital seamanship, which implies every phase of judgment,
coolness, perseverance, and pluck, with a ready command of resources under all
circumstances. Always cheerful and urbane, while full of humor, he never
overstepped the line of personal and official dignity, and gentlemanly courtesy.
The decks and lower rigging
were encased in ice; the Lexington was
deeply laden with heavy guns, shot, shell, &c., for the Army, and though she
was what seamen call a comfortable ship, she was often very unsteady.
On one occasion, the whole
wardroom mess was precipitated to leeward by a sudden lurch into Sherman’s
stateroom—together with the table—crockery, Purser Wilson’s iron
money-chest and Doctor Abernethy’s gold spectacles. All the gentlemen who
composed that motley pile have since
borne the rank of Major General in the Army, or Commander in the Navy. The
proprietor of the premises, now Lieutenant-General Sherman, greatly enjoyed,
while he participated in the general discomfiture. Storms off Cape Horn, as
elsewhere, finally blow themselves out. Clear of "the Horn," the
vessel soon reached Valparaiso, where lay a part of the United States Pacific
Squadron. The British and French Admirals were also there, each with a number of
ships. Admiral Sir Thomas Seymour called on board the Lexington, and was, of course, received with military honors. He
scrutinized closely the "material" of the United States Regular Army,
which he saw in the guard of artillerymen in line on the quarter-deck. He
certainly found a very good specimen, Lieutenant Sherman commanding that guard.
Here Bailey met Commodore
Stockton, who, with his seamen and the mountaineers under Fremont and his
lieutenant, Kit. Carson, had secured possession of what was called Upper
California, reinforced as they were, in good season, by General Kearney, who,
soon after his arrival on the coast, after his long and perilous march across
the continent, was received with his staff on board the Lexington, at San Pedro, and conveyed up the coast. Stoneman, since
so distinguished as a cavalry General, was a lieutenant in General Kearney’s
The Lexington was very actively employed on the western coast during the
remainder of the Mexican war.
Positive instructions were
given from Washington, that our forces in the Pacific should secure the
possession of both Upper and Lower California.
Upon Lieutenant Bailey
devolved the duty of conveying troops to the Peninsula of Lower California, and
for a long time he remained at La Paz, covering the small force in occupancy of
that point, under Lieutenant-Colonel Burton, United States Army, who so
gallantly maintained his position when twice attacked by a superior force.
Bailey was fond of a joke,
even a practical one, if good. Many good ones are told of him, of which we give
the following, from our pleasant correspondent, as an illustration:
The squadron was in the Bay of
Monterey, and about to separate for the performance, by each ship, of its
especial work. The general signal had been made from the flagship: "Get
under weigh, and proceed as instructed."
The Lexington was by no means rapid,
but though she never went over nine and a half knots, she could go five knots
with almost anything, especially with a moderate breeze and smooth water, close
The wind was from the
westward, and it was a dead beat out of the roadstead. The Lexington had an inshore berth, and was the last to get her anchors
up; but it was a five-knot breeze, and it soon became evident that she was
gaining on the frigates. As she made a stretch from Point Pinos, it appeared
that she was weathering the Savannah
frigate, which was standing in on the other tack. Lieutenant Bailey was
delighted at the prospect of astonishing the squadron by the extraordinary
sailing qualities of the old Lexington,
always noted as being a dull sailer.
It was rather a close thing,
but with a fair show he could certainly weather the Savannah. He paced the quarter-deck in high glee, slapping his thigh
at each turn with his right hand—as was his custom when pleased—and
pleasantly showing his handsome teeth, while his eyes sparkled with fun. Just as
he was passing about a cable’s length ahead, and to windward of the Savannah,
she put her helm down, and came up into the wind’s eye, forging ahead. So
around she must go, or fall foul.
"Raise tacks and
Slap comes the frigate right
across our bow, and away goes the flying jib-boom.
"Square the main-yard!’
"Box her around, Mr.
"Shift your helm for a
stern-board, my man!"
Captain Mervine, on the
Savannah’s quarter-deck, shouted: "What do you mean, sir, by running into
a first-class frigate?" Captain Bailey (sotto voce): "Can’t
a first-class frigate keep out of the way?" (Aloud): "Aye, aye, sir;
all aback it is-all clear, sir; no injury done, I hope—quite accidental, of
course." (sotto voce):
"I accept your explanation." (Aloud): "Good-by, sir, I wish you a
pleasant passage home."
It frequently happens that
naval officers are required promptly to decide very nice points of international
law, and it would be fortunate for the country if every officer had as thorough
a command of its principles and precedents, as is possessed by Admiral Bailey.
The Lexington was for some time engaged in blockading the Mexican port
of San Blas, during which time, two of Her Britannic Majesty’s frigates
anchored in the roadstead for the purpose of receiving on board a large amount
of Mexican dollars to be conveyed to England. It was then, and is perhaps now,
the custom for British ships of war to carry bullion or coin for a
consideration, which consideration, being a percentage upon the value of the
treasure, was divided between certain officers of the ships conveying the same,
and the Admiral commanding on the Station from whence the shipment is made.
A correspondence took place,
between Captain Bailey and the senior British captain on this occasion, upon the
question as to whether a ship engaged in carrying “freight" for a
consideration, could be looked upon as a ship of war, and be treated as such by
a blockading force, the commander of that force knowing her to be thus engaged.
Whether it was not proper to "warn off” such vessels from the blockaded
port—endorsing notice upon their "registers;’" and, in default of
their having registers like other mercantile ships, whether notice might not be
endorsed upon the papers under which the ship might be sailing, whether a
"sea-letter" pass, or a commission issued to the officer in command.
The correspondence was quite
lengthy, and was as humorous as it was able, dignified, and courteous.
vessels sailed without taking any “freight."
It was in 1848, says our
correspondent, that peace with Mexico was concluded, and Henry A. Wise, now
Captain, United States Navy, brought the first news direct from the City of
Mexico. We landed him at San Blas when he started on his famous ride-during the
armistice—and on his return he went up the Coast in the Lexington, at which time we had a peep at the neatly prepared
manuscripts of the amusing book in which he so graphically relates his
adventures upon that and other occasions.
It was about this time, I
think, that the store ship Southampton
arrived from Upper California, and John L. Worden, then passed Midshipman, and
Acting Master of that ship, called on board the Lexington and exhibited to his friends some nuggets of gold which
had been found in cutting a millrace on Captain Sutter’s farm near Sacramento.
Mr. Worden was then rather
stout-built, somewhat fleshy, of a light, cheerful disposition, and was
considered a very good officer. I should hardly have recognized him in the wiry,
muscular, and scarred veteran that he is to-day, carrying upon his face the
marks of the first engagement ever fought between iron-clads.
Lieutenant Bailey now received
advice of his long-delayed promotion, and returned to his home by the way of the
Isthmus of Panama.
During the Mexican war, one of
Bailey’s duties was the blockading of San Bias—one of the two only ports of
entry left open to Mexico. In doing this, he warned all neutrals that the
intermediate ports between here and Manzanilla were also blockaded, and the
landing of any goods in them would subject such vessels and cargoes to capture
and confiscation. This order brought a letter from the British Consul, Wm.
Forbes, stationed at Tepic, who protested against the order, as an attempt at
paper blockade, without sufficient force-which blockade had been regarded as
illegal by American authorities, and also by Lord Stowell. Bailey replied that:
"A state of war gives a
neutral no rights, which he did not previously possess in time of peace.
"Because, if the
belligerent attempts to relieve himself of the pressure of a blockade by opening
new ports, he does so in consequence of the pressure of the arms of his enemy,
and the neutral, by intervening to relieve that pressure, interferes with the
war to the disadvantage of the other belligerent—which interference the latter
He landed four officers and
thirty-seven men from the Lexington
and a bark, capturing the upper and lower towns of San Blas-spiking guns in the
abandoned fort-and brought off two field pieces. He received a few days after a
Mexican newspaper, stating that two North American vessels of war had entered
the port of San Blas and landed sixteen hundred men, and that a division of five
hundred cavalry, stationed in the neighborhood, had, in view of such
overwhelming force, retreated to the interior.
From 1853 to ‘55, Captain
Bailey commanded the U. S. ship St. Mary,
cruising in the Pacific, and visited most of the prominent seaports, including
many of the islands.
At the request of the
president of Nicaragua, he visited the capital to confer with him and the U. S.
minister, respecting the threatened invasion of the renowned filibuster, Walker.
He was also at Honolulu while important negotiations were being had with
Kamehameha III., which however were suddenly terminated by the death of that
He afterwards visited the
Marquesas, Society Islands, Navigator’s and Fejee Islands, and at these last
two places greatly promoted the interests of American citizens, by seeing that
justice was administered—he holding frequent courts, before which many
criminals were brought, and after due trial properly and summarily punished.
At Apia, the high chief
becoming refractory, and refusing to produce one of his subjects, accused of
stealing from an American vessel, every preparation was made for an attack upon
the town, and for his arrest, when his unconditional surrender and appearance on
board the "St. Mary"
prevented a collision.
At the Fejee Islands, Capt.
Bailey, finding that Captain Boutwell, of the "John Adams," had, by his injudicious treatment of the natives,
created some ill feeling, very maturely considered the matter, and gave such
orders to Captain Boutwell as were calculated to promote a more thorough and
impartial administration of justice.
Capt. Bailey afterwards
visited the principal ports of Chili, Peru, and Ecuador, holding everywhere the
most agreeable relations with the chief authorities of each country.
He arrived at Panama after the
frightful massacre of April 15, 1856, and here displayed, in a very signal
manner, great coolness and good judgment in allaying the excitement existing
among his own countrymen.
It would have been an easy
matter for him to have bombarded Panama, thereby taking prompt satisfaction for
the outrages committed. But forty-eight miles of railroad from thence to
Aspinwall, affording the only means of transit between California and the
Atlantic states, were entirely unprotected, and would have therefore been
exposed to the attacks of an irritated and revengeful populace; he accordingly
very wisely refrained, and left to the general government the administration of
the proper remedies. He remained, however, for nearly a year at Panama,
vigilantly looking after and promoting American interests.
His correspondence with the
governor, Don F. de Fabrega, was short and spicy. He first asked an explanation
of the outrages committed on American citizens and property. Two or three
letters passed, but the governor, with customary Spanish duplicity and
pomposity, evading the issue, Bailey closed the correspondence with the
following direct and curt letter, which his "Excellency” could ponder on
at his leisure:
UNITED STATES SLOOP ST.
PANAMA, April 25th, 1856.
His Excellency Don Francisco
Acting Governor, &c., of
Sir: I have the honor to
acknowledge the receipt of your replies to my communications of the 2d and 24th
insts. Apart from the announcement of the restoration to the owners of the
cannon and arms illegally taken from the steamer Taboga, I must confess that they afford me little satisfaction. I
had expected, when asking for information as to the causes of the frightful
occurrences of the 15th inst., that, apart from the immediate origin of the
tumult, you would have deemed it due to yourself, as the Chief Magistrate of
this community, to state why and wherefore you undertook the fearful
responsibility of ordering your police to fire upon my countrymen, women and
children, and to state what steps you had taken to punish the guilty, and
restore the plunder. Ten days have elapsed since the catastrophe, and I have yet
to learn that a single criminal has been arrested, or that any portion of the
immense amount of valuables taken from the passengers and railroad company, has
been restored. I have yet to learn that your high "conscientious views of
duty, and understanding well the great interests which are bound up in this line
of universal transit" extended any further than to order an indiscriminate
massacre of the passengers over this transit. I have yet to learn, that when a
riot or collision shall here take place between foreigners, on the one side, and
natives on the other, that you recognize any higher obligation on your part than
to protect and assist the latter, and to disarm, murder, maltreat, and plunder
Is it possible that your
Excellency recognizes but one party to a riot? that you shelter yourself under
the philosophic assurance, that the fearful catastrophe of the 15th inst. was
the result of "elementos tan
heterogeneous como los que forman nuestra poblacion i la emaqgracion
Californiana?" The deduction, I regret to state, affords me little
assurance of the safety of the transit for the future, unless your Excellency
shall devise some more speedy and efficacious method for rendering these
unfortunate "elements" less "heterogeneous" hereafter. The
police who took part in this terrible tragedy now guard the lives and property
of the transit passengers. The "Jendarmena"
who, with the same philosophy as your Excellency, deemed it best) in the late
emergency, to destroy the foreign "element," are the reliable means of
protection which your Excellency will. furnish us to any extent for the future,
and it, no doubt, should be a source of gratification. that they have, since the
10th inst., permitted the passengers and treasure of the steamers "Uncle
Sam" and "Golden Age,"
to make the transit without murdering the one, or plundering the other. I am,
with the force under my command, but from eight to ten days removed from
communication with my Government, and am, therefore, bound to submit to their
judgment the manner in which the fearful accountability that you have incurred
shall be investigated, and to their discretion the indemnity that shall be
demanded for the past and security for the future: meanwhile, I shall do all in
my power to avert any danger that may occur to the transit passengers, from
whatever quarter it may come, and under every emergency. In directing my first
communication to your Excellency, I had no desire to listen to apologies for
certain parties or certain acts, but an earnest wish to know what you did
towards punishing the parties concerned in this frightful atrocity. I wanted not
sophistry but action; the names of the criminals arrested-the officers
dismissed-and some allusion to plunder restored. That I have not been thus
gratified, I have no reason to doubt, arises from the fact that you deem the
origin of the affair a sufficient justification for its frightful conclusion.
I shall here take my leave of
your Excellency as a correspondent, and shall have the honor to submit your two
communications to my Government, presuming that they will not be more
satisfactory to them than to me.
I am respectfully, sir,
Your obedient servant,
Commander U. S. N.
At the breaking out of the
rebellion, he was in the latter part of 1861 ordered to the steamer Colorado,
blockading Pensacola, and took part in the subsequent bombardment of the
fortifications. After a night reconnoissance he sent a boat expedition to cut
out the privateer Judah. The vessel was destroyed, and the battery on shore
spiked. The three lieutenants commanding the boats, Russel, Blake, and Sproston,
received the highest commendation for their gallantry.
He was subsequently sent to
the passes of the Mississippi, second in command under Farragut in the
contemplated movement against New Orleans.
Although the general plan of
attack had been determined on, Farragut called a council of war just before it
occurred, in which Captain Bailey suggested that an attack in the daytime would
draw on them the fire of the enemy the moment they came in sight—also, that
the advance in double lines would expose the vessels to get fouled. It will be
seen that these ideas received the approval of the commander-in-chief.
The way in which Bailey
happened to lead his division of eight vessels in the little Cayuga
is not generally known. The Colorado
was a heavy vessel and one much better calculated to withstand the horrible fire
of the batteries than this little gunboat. But it was found impossible to get
her over the bar, and so he brought up his men, determined to lead the fleet in
the passage of the batteries if he did it in his launch. He was at the time
suffering under a painful disease, and the surgeon reported that—
His health would not permit
him to take part in the fight. For this act of kindness, he was anything but
grateful, and fumed and swore he was not sick, and would go. But the surgeon was
firm in the performance of his duty, and asked for a "Medical Survey"
upon him, which was ordered in due form.
assembled in his cabin, examined his case with great care, retired, talked it
over, and made out a written report of his case, closing with the opinion that
it would be very dangerous for him to take part in the coming fight, and finally
recommended that he should remain quiet, and that severe medical treatment be
applied as soon as practicable.
The Board returned to the
cabin, (where were assembled Admiral Farragut and other officers, awaiting the
result of the examination,) and communicated in due form the result of their
All remained quiet, waiting to
see what effect it had upon "Old Bailey," expecting to see him fume
and rage at being prevented from taking part in giving those "d—d rebels
a lesson which they would not soon forget." But instead of this, he quietly
rose, and in the most dignified manner, said:
"Admiral, I am very much
obliged to the gentlemen, and am very grateful to them for their solicitude in
regard to my health, for their attention to my case and their kind and
considerate recommendation; but, by —, I’ll
lead your fleet up the river, if I burst my boiler."
Farragut gave him a division
and assigned him the sloop-of-war "Oneida,"
to carry his flag. The latter had not been long on board when certain matters
occurred, which need not now be discussed, but which rendered it undesirable for
Bailey to remain on that ship. Lieutenant-Commanding Harrison having dined on
the "Oneida" on that day,
and seeing, in this hitch, a chance for himself (his gunboat having been
assigned a place in the rear), he offered Bailey the "Cayuga" and urged him to lead up in her. He promptly accepted
the offer, and before sunset was aboard the little vessel, bag and baggage. Now
this was an act of the purest patriotism and most unselfish courage; it was
giving up, voluntarily, a new, strong, and fast ship (and in this instance speed
was of the utmost moment) for a vessel of trifling force and speed, scarcely
sufficient to stem the current of the Mississippi; but it was done to prevent
agitation, and to produce harmony among the commanders of the fleet, on the eve
of a great and uncertain conflict.
The signal for attack was made
at 2 A. M., on the morning of the 24th April, 1862. There was too much anxiety
on board for sleep; part of the night was spent in steaming up and down the
division, in order that Bailey might satisfy himself that nothing was
amiss—the river was continually lighted by fire-rafts, as they came down with
the current, snapping and cracking with their intense heat—great fires were
built at the barrier chains, making the scene and the hour one never to be
forgotten. The signal lights had scarcely reached the peak of the Hartford before the "Cayuga"
had her anchor atrip, and was heading up stream. The heavier ships were longer
in securing their anchors. Much anxiety was felt as to the precise locality of
the opening that had been made in the barrier; he, however, steered fairly into
it, and just then his vessel was discovered, and the forts opened. The "Cayuga"
was now put upon her speed, not much at best, and pointed close under the guns
of St. Philip, so as to have the shot strike her rigging. Emerging from the
dense smoke that filled the river between the forts, Bailey encountered a new,
and a most unexpected enemy, nothing less than a flotilla of gunboats, having
among them the “Louisiana" and
"Manassas," with iron armor.
The Cayuga was quite unsupported at
this time, and things wore an anxious look. It was now that Captain Bailey
exhibited that quiet courage and calm confidence that told so finely on the
crew. He could look in no direction without seeing an enemy close aboard. The
"Gov. Moore," the
best-fought ship of the enemy, was bearing down on his starboard bow, and to her
Harrison gave most of his attention. At the same moment a gunboat approached
from nearly astern, with the evident intention of ramming. Captain Bailey called
to Harrison to "send aft the boarders." The latter replied: "I
have no men to spare just now, you must take care of that end of the
vessel." With that, Bailey stepped on the arm-chest, and singing out
"Surrender, you fool, or I’ll blow you out of water!" he opened with
his revolver. Almost immediately the reply came back, “Don’t shoot! We
surrender." "Then stick your d—-d nose in the mud until I take
possession." The vessel sheered off, ran ashore, and was soon in flames.
About the same time a fearful discharge of grape was delivered from the large
Dahlgren into the "Gov. Moore,"
raking her from stem to stern, killing many of her men, and causing her to sheer
off. Two other vessels of the rebel flotilla were forced to surrender and run on
shore before Bailey knew that any other of our ships had succeeded in coming
through the fire of the forts—then came the "Varuna"
into action, followed in quick succession by the fleet. This was the last effort
of the rebels. The victory was complete. "You can fancy the scene: now,
says our correspondent, "as the bright day broke over the river, disclosing
fourteen vessels of our fleet above the forts, gaily bedecked with the "old
flags," while eleven burning hulls were all that remained of the rebel
flotilla." As soon as objects on shore were visible Camp Lovell was
discovered, having the Chalmette regiment in tents, commanded by Col. Szymanski.
Anchoring in front of the camp, and ordering the Colonel on board, Captain
Bailey received the surrender of the regiment, He could not but smile at the
idea of a regiment on shore captured by a gunboat. He had now no specific
orders; but knowing New Orleans to be the objective point, he determined, if
possible, to be first before the city. Steaming at full speed, he found himself
next day, suddenly, in a tremendous cross fire; this came from the Chalmette
batteries, situated on either bank of the river. The Cayuga
endured this fire until Farragut could come up and divert it to his own ship.
The little gunboat suffered severely here, but her bow was never turned down
In speaking of the passage of
these latter forts, Farragut says, "Captain Bailey was still far in
advance, not having noticed my signal for close order." We rather suspect
the gallant captain did not look in the direction where he could see it. His
eyes were turned up stream towards New Orleans. N. B. Harrison, the lieutenant
commanding the Cayuga, than whom a
cooler, braver, and more gallant officer never trod the deck of a battle-ship,
reported that his vessel was struck forty-two times, and that both her masts
were so cut up as to be unfit for farther service. Strange as it may appear,
only six of his crew were wounded.
The river was now clear to New
Orleans; and at one o’clock, on the 25th, the fleet came to anchor in front of
the city. The rain was coming down in torrents; but the crowd on shore was dense
and turbulent, and blind with futile passion. Directly, a boat was seen to put
off from the flagship, and swept towards the shore, impelled by the strong arms
of well-dressed sailors. In the stern sat Captain Bailey, with his lieutenant,
Perkins, by his side, and Acting-Master Morton, in charge of the boat. He was on
his way to demand the surrender of the city. As he approached the levee, the
drenched and waiting crowd grew more excited, and deafening cheers were sent up
for Jeff. Davis, and groans uttered for Lincoln and the fleet. Now and then a
sudden eddy would be seen in some portion of the black, dark mass, as a man was
collared or shoved about, who dared to express a Union feeling. Bailey saw at a
glance that it was not a pleasant reception that awaited him; but he stepped
calmly and firmly ashore, and said he wished to see the mayor of the city. A few
came forward, and offered to conduct him. As the little handful moved off; the
crowd surged after them, yelling and shouting like demons. A single word, and
Bailey and his lieutenant would become the victims of its fury; but they showed
no alarm, and reached the City Hall in safety, when the passions of the crowd
broke forth. At one time it seemed that they would be set upon by the most
infuriated; but some well-dressed citizens, who were aware of the wholesale
destruction of the city that would follow such an act, interfered.
Bailey, on being presented to
the mayor, and exchanging salutations, said: "I have been sent by Captain
Farragut, commanding the United States fleet, to demand the surrender of the
city, and the elevation of the flag of the United States over the Custom-House,
Mint, Post-Office, and City Hall."
The mayor, Munroe, was in
company with Pierre Soule, and was evidently prompted by him as to questions and
replies. Among other things, the mayor wished to know what credentials Bailey
had from Flag-Officer Farragut. He replied that he was second
in command; had led the fleet by the forts, had forced the surrender of
three gunboats, and captured the Chalmette regiment; and as such needed no other
credentials—which they appeared to consider sufficient.
Munroe replied that he was not
a military man, and had no authority to surrender the place, but that he would
send for General Lovell, the military commander, who was out of the city. While
the messenger was gone, Bailey engaged in free conversation with those in the
mayor’s office, interrupted now and then by the yells of the crowd surging to
and fro in the pouring rain without. Much property had been destroyed in the
city after the news of the passage of the forts was received, and Bailey
expressed his regret that it had taken place. The Mayor rudely replied that the
property was their own, and its destruction concerned nobody but themselves.
Bailey good-humoredly said that such a course looked to him very much like a man
biting off his nose to spite his face.
The Mayor did not relish the
joke, and grew more disagreeable.
Soon cheers from without
heralded the arrival of Lovell, and the next moment he entered the room, and
announced his name and rank. He then shook hands with Bailey, who renewed the
demand he had a short time before made to the Mayor. To this Lovell replied,
that he would not surrender the city; that he intended to fight on land as long
as he could; and if they wished to shell the city, filled with women and
children, they might do it. Bailey courteously replied, that nothing was farther
from Captain Farragut’s intentions than shelling the city; that he regretted
the destruction of property that had already occurred. To which Lovell answered,
with much unnecessary hauteur, that it was done by his own orders. Lovell
leaving the affairs of the city in the hands of the civil authorities, Bailey
determined to return, and report the situation of matters to Farragut. But as he
was about to leave, he turned to General Lovell, and said that he had visited
many uncivilized places, such as the South Sea and Fejee Islands and found even
among the savages a decent respect for a herald and flag of truce, which are
regarded by all civilized nations as sacred, but that he had been insulted every
step of the way from his boat by an unwashed mob. He therefore demanded a safe
conduct to his boat. A carriage was then drawn up at a rear door of the City
Hall, and he was conducted to it with his aid, Lieutenant Perkins, by two
officers, and driven through certain streets entirely depopulated, their
inhabitants having thronged to what they supposed would be the scene of his
assassination on the route by which he had come.
He arrived without molestation
at the landing, where a great crowd was assembled—but the officers, drawing
their swords, made way for him, when he shook hands with them and departed.
Bailey was now sent home with
dispatches to the Government, and on arriving at Fortress Monroe forwarded the
following telegraph to the Secretary of War: "I have the honor to announce
that, in the providence of God, which smiles upon a just cause, the squadron
under Flag Officer Farragut has been vouchsafed a glorious victory and triumph
in the capture of New Orleans, Forts Jackson, St. Philip, Lexington, and Pike,
the batteries above and below New Orleans, as well as the total destruction of
the enemy’s gunboats, steam-rams, floating batteries (iron-clad), fire-rafts,
obstruction booms, and chains. The enemy with their own hands destroyed from
eight to ten millions of cotton and shipping. Our loss is thirty-six killed, and
one hundred and twenty-three wounded. The enemy lost from one thousand to
fifteen hundred, besides several hundred prisoners. The way is clear, and the
rebel defenses destroyed from the Gulf to Baton Rouge, and probably to Memphis.
Our flag waves triumphantly over them all. I am bearer of dispatches. THEODORUS
The important part that
Captain Bailey took in the capture of New Orleans clearly entitled him to
receive from the Navy Department some signal recognition of its sense of the
value of his services, and, in the fall of 1862, Acting Rear-Admiral Lardner,
commanding Eastern Gulf Blockading Squadron, suffering greatly from the
weakening effects of an attack of yellow fever, having applied to the Navy
Department to be relieved from duty on that station, and ordered North,
Commodore Bailey was at once directed to assume the command, and in November,
1862, proceeded to Key West.
The limits of the command
comprised a stretch of sea-coast extending nearly a thousand miles, embracing
the entire Peninsula of Florida, from Mosquito Inlet on the eastern coast, to
St. Andrew’s Bay on the western. The headquarters of the squadron were at the
important island of Key West—the key of the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately,
this squadron was the only one, except the West India squadron, that did not
contain within its limits some stronghold to be captured. The North Atlantic
squadron had its Fort Fisher—the South Atlantic its Sumter—the West Gulf
squadron its Fort Morgan—but the East Gulf squadron afforded no sufficient
scope for the restless courage that was so distinguishing a trait in the
character of its commander-in-chief.
Bailey’s orders were to
blockade the Florida coast, and as there was no more active work at hand, he set
himself to do this thoroughly. The means at his disposal he found very
inadequate to the work, for the squadron had been greatly thinned out by the
yellow fever, and a number of the vessels infected with the contagion had been
ordered North by Admiral Lardner. The Navy Department found it impossible at
that time to supply their places with others, the pressure upon them for vessels
being so great for other squadrons, and the material from which to supply this
demand, so limited.
In this emergency, finding it
useless to apply to the Government for aid, Admiral Bailey set zealously to work
to make additions to his force from such materials as he could command. As the
Department could not supply him with vessels, he proposed to supply himself. The
blockade-running from the Florida coast was, at this time, carried on mostly by
swift-sailing schooners that slipped quietly out of the creeks and rivers, under
cover of the night, and made for the coast of Cuba. Admiral Bailey determined to
make this class of vessels useful, and accordingly, as soon as he caught a
particularly fast one, instead of allowing it to be sold at auction, and bought
in by the blockade-runners, to be again put upon the contraband line, he took it
for the use of the Government at an appraisement, and having sent carbines,
cutlasses, a howitzer, and a sufficient number of "blue-jackets"
aboard, the American flag was run up at the peak, and the little craft sailed
off to astonish her old allies by appearing in her entirely new and unexpected
character of a United States vessel. These tenders, for they were all attached
to one or another of the larger vessels of the squadron, soon became a
distinguishing feature of the Eastern Gulf squadron, and a terror to all the
contrabandists along the coast. It was not long before a complete cordon of
these vigilant little sentinels was formed; stretching along the entire coast,
the cruising-ground of one dove-tailing on to that of the next, and they became
the heroes of many bold adventures. Their light draft of water enabled them to
run into the creeks and inlets that mark the Florida coast, and they would
frequently pounce down upon a nest of blockade-runners—loading their vessel
with cotton up some quiet river, and almost before the latter could recover from
their astonishment at the apparition of the unwelcome "Yankees," their
vessel would be towed out to sea and under sail for Key West, with a prize crew
Admiral Bailey, by his prompt
recognition of every act of gallantry, and of every important service on the
part of his officers and men, soon imparted a portion of his own energy to his
squadron. There was no more "loafing" on the blockade. It was
understood that the vessels were stationed to make captures, and not for fishing
purposes, and if a vessel set to guard a particular passage allowed the
blockade-runners to slip in and out, the commanding officer was held responsible
at headquarters for his negligence; and if, on the other hand, he showed
constant vigilance and attention to duty, his good conduct did not fail to
receive notice, and to be reported with commendation to the Department at
Washington. The vessels of the fleet were likewise, from time to time,
personally visited by the commander-in-chief, and his able and vigilant
Chief-of-Staff, Commander Temple, and thoroughly inspected. Their efficiency in
drill at the great guns and in small arms, and at fire quarters was carefully
noted, and every commanding-officer felt that the exact status of himself and
his ship’s company was known and kept in mind at headquarters. In fact, it is
not too much to say that the discipline of this squadron was so perfect that the
Department highly complimented Bailey, saying: "It was so well governed
that it gave them no trouble—it took care of itself." It certainly did
its work thoroughly. The coast of Florida was hermetically sealed, and vessels
were spared to cruise at large in the Gulf, and intercept the blockade runners
that plied regularly between Mobile and Havana.
Few persons are aware what a
very essential part the blockading vessels performed in crippling and
dispiriting the enemy. Their work was noiseless, and attracted but little of the
public attention; but the pressure brought to bear upon the South was
tremendous, and grew every month more intolerable. It was not so much that the
rebels were put to the greatest individual discomfort and inconvenience—that
indeed was a result, but not the aim or intention of the blockade. The principal
pressure was felt where it was intended that it should be—in their military
movements—in their armies. They could not purchase military supplies abroad,
and they had no adequate means of manufacturing them at home. Their troops were
therefore ill-equipped, poorly shod, poorly clothed, and destitute of many of
the articles that are necessary to the efficiency of armies in the field.
In 1863, the limits of the
East Gulf Squadron were increased by the addition to its jurisdiction of an
important part of what had been the cruising-ground of the West India, or Flying
Squadron; to wit: the Bahama Banks. The difficulty of communicating by boats
with the Admiral, where vessels were lying often at a distance of two miles from
the flagship, became so great, that in the spring of this year headquarters were
moved ashore, and the flagship was sent to cruise in the Gulf. By this change,
the commander-in-chief became rapidly accessible to all those under his command.
Whether it was that twenty-odd years on "blue water" had had its
effect upon him, or whether Nature in the beginning had implanted in him a
kindly heart, certain it was that the Admiral possessed all of those qualities
of a large hearted and open-handed nature that belong traditionally to the
sailor. He was the very embodiment of the poetic idea of a son of Neptune, and
every human being who crossed the threshold of the great rooms at which
headquarters were now located, was sure to find there a hearty, cheerful
welcome—except one class, the enemies of his country. When any of the members
of his staff heard from their adjoining apartments an unusual noise and
declamation, ending with calls for "Orderly," they were pretty certain
that one of this class was about being marched out from the indignant presence
of Bailey, at the double-quick, and it was usually some time before the waters
fairly subsided after one of these storms. The devotion of a sailor to the flag
he has served for nearly half a century has in it an ardor that landsmen fail to
appreciate. An amusing instance of the Admiral’s dislike of the sympathizers
with secession, occurred shortly after the headquarters were moved on shore. It
happened that the principal church at Key West was the Episcopal, and that,
though the rector was loyal, a majority of the vestry were secessionists, who
reelected themselves to office year after year. This state of things coming to
the Admiral’s knowledge at the time that the annual election for vestrymen
occurred, he resolved to "purge the temple," and, summoning his
officers (it being a free church, all who attended there were entitled to vote),
he marched up to the annual meeting, on the first Monday after Easter, to the
great consternation of the close corporation, who had assembled to vote each
other in. As a matter of course, a heavy "Union" vote was cast, and
for that year, at least, the church was officered by loyal men, from rector to
sexton. The Admiral used laughingly, after this incident, to proclaim himself
ex-officio "Bishop of that Diocese."
Though the Admiral and his
staff were always on duty, and business was transacted at any hour, from eight
in the morning till midnight, there was no lack of mirth at headquarters, and
the Admiral’s hospitality became so well known through the service, that along
the whole coast, from the Potomac to the Rio Grande, there was no naval station
visited with more pleasure by officers than that at Key West. As that post lay
in the direct track of all vessels bound to the West Gulf Squadron, or from that
squadron North, and as the vessels of the West India Squadron were accustomed to
put into Key West for provisions and their mails, it often happened that from
twelve to fifteen men-of-war were in harbor at the same time. On these
occasions, the table of the Admiral’s mess was stretched to its largest
capacity, and the headquarters became a scene of great animation. In the summer
of 1864, however, all this was changed, for the port was again visited by that
scourge, the yellow fever. The epidemic commenced in June, and extended from
vessel to vessel, and what had shortly before been a scene of bustle, activity,
and mirth, became now one of desolation and mourning. A few hours was sufficient
to hurry the victims from a state of apparently perfect health to the grave. The
vessels were sent North as fast as the infection appeared upon them, and before
long the dreaded port of Key West was itself as completely blockaded by the
invisible but fearful forces of Yellow Jack, as was any port along the coast by
the most vigilant of our cruisers. For weeks there was scarcely any
communication with the outer world. No vessel was bold enough to venture in, and
there were none to venture out. In the mean time, those on the island sickened,
and very many died. The Admiral, after a severe illness, rallied, and, thanks to
a fine constitution, recovered. After the abatement of the fever, the Department
thought it due to his long service in a sickly climate, to transfer him to a
healthier station, and accordingly, in the fall of the same year, he was ordered
to the command of the Navy Yard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
There is one anecdote told of
the Admiral, while engaged in the blockade, which not only illustrates his
character, always noble and incorruptible, but explains satisfactorily how so
many of our officers, in the South and Southwest, got rich during the war. One
day the Admiral received a letter from a merchant in Havana, stating that he
desired a personal interview with him, as he had an important communication to
make. Not long after, the former, having occasion to send a vessel to Havana,
directed the commanding officer to call on the merchant and learn what the
important communication was. It turned out to be a proposal to him that he
should so arrange his squadron as to allow a vessel to be run into port with
contraband goods, the Admiral to receive for so doing forty thousand dollars a
trip for six trips, and then have vessel, cargo, and all. The money was to be
paid in gold, which then being at $2.50 would have netted the Admiral the nice
little sum of about a million of dollars. He could have carried out this
nefarious scheme without being detected, with the utmost ease. To most men such
a sum of money would seem a large bribe, but to the Admiral a five-dollar bill
would have been just as great a temptation. It is needless to say that he took
no notice of the proposal, but it would have fared hard with the traitorous
merchant, if he had fallen into his clutches. That many officers on land were
not superior to much smaller bribes, the military records furnish, alas! too
The best proof of the
efficiency of the blockade during the period that the Eastern Gulf squadron was
under Admiral Bailey’s command, is found in the number of prizes captured.
With a fleet of some thirty vessels, of which not more than six were steamers in
any way fit for cruising, he captured in the course of a little more than a year
and a half, more than a hundred and fifty blockade runners of all rates and
sizes, from sloops to large and heavily loaded Mississippi steamers. In
proportion to the time and the number of vessels employed, this is a larger
capture list than is exhibited by any other squadron.
Admiral Bailey remains at
present the commandant of the Portsmouth station, although by a law of Congress
he is, from his age and length of service, placed on the retired list. The
character of Admiral Bailey is clearly developed in the foregoing sketch. To see
him dispensing hospitality at his table, and keeping his guests often in a roar
of laughter, one would hardly know him for the same man when leading his line
into battle. On the deck of his ship, amid the raining balls of the enemy, he is
altogether another being. Stern and inflexible, his orders ring sharply out, and
all the lineaments of his kindly countenance reveal the great commander and the
fearless man. The confusion and carnage of battle seem to quicken his
perceptions, and he is never so much at home as when, amid the thunder of his
own broadsides, he presses where the boldest hold their breath. Of great energy,
untiring perseverance, quick perceptions—fearless in action, and wise in
counsel, he has won a place in the foremost rank of those naval heroes who are
at once the pride and glory of the land.
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