Theodorus Bailey   [1805-1877]

Military Leader

Theodorus Bailey was a life long United States navy man, who first joined the United States Navy as a midship man in 1818, when he was only 13 years old. It appears that for most of his life he served in active duty as a United States Navy man.

Bailey was born at Chateaugay near Plattsburg, New York on April 12, 1805. As a youngster he was able to witness the terrible battle on Lake Champlain, a battle which was led by Commodore McDonough, and which resulted in an American victory. That battle left such an impression on him that he decided to become an American navy man at a very young age.

After only nine years in the United States Navy, he was commissioned as a lieutenant. During the early years of his naval service he spent a fair amount of time at the Brooklyn Naval Yard. At the outbreak of the Mexican War, he was commissioned to serve on the U.S. Lexington as a senior officer. Most of the ship’s activity was on the Pacific along the California coast. Bailey was involved in several skirmishes with the enemy during that time period.

During the 1850’s Bailey commanded the sloop, the St. Marys, and later, in 1861, the frigate, Colorado. When the Civil War started, Bailey was under the command of Admiral David Farragut, who was ordered to attack Fort Jackson at New Orleans in 1862.  Bailey who was then already serving in the Caribbean was sent ashore by Admiral Farragut to demand the surrender of New Orleans. As a result of the above, Bailey’s major contribution during the Civil War was the capture New Orleans for the Union forces. The confederate general, Mansfield Lovell, surrendered his sword to Bailey at a New Orleans City Hall ceremony. In addition, Captain Bailey’s ships captured 150 confederate block runners during the Civil War.

At the end of the Civil War, Bailey became the commander of the Portsmouth Navy Yard where he remained until 1867. While there, in 1866, Bailey was commissioned to the rank of Rear Admiral. Three months later, he retired form active service, having served in the United States Navy for 48 years.

During his retirement years, Bailey resided in Washington, D.C., where he passed away on February 14, 1877. Following his death, the United States Navy named three naval ships after him. They consisted of a torpedo boat, which was in service from 1899 to 1918, and two destroyers which were in service from 1919 to 1940, and from 1942 to 1946.

Theodorus Bailey was of solid Dutch background. His uncle was Theodorus Bailey, who served as a representative in the United States House of Representatives, and as a senator in the United States Senate. Later his uncle also was commissioned as a Brigadier General in the New York State Militia. His great great great grand father was Cornelis Barente Van Wyck, who settled in New Amsterdam in 1659. His grandmother was Aaltje Van Brooks, the great grand daughter of Cornelis Barente Van Wyck. Aaltje Van Brooks was also the great great grand mother of the famous Americana author, Van Wyck Brooks.

 

REFERENCES

Theodorus Bailey (US Navy Officer), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodorus_Bailey_(naval_officer)

Obituary—Rear Admiral Theodorus Bailey, http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/nytarchive.html

 

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PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICANS IN U.S. GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP POSITIONS, 2015

 

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