From: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships


Born in Princeton, N. J., 7 May 1774, William Bainbridge was appointed Lieutenant in the Navy 3 August 1798. He performed distinguished service in the war with France and commanded the frigate Philadelphia when she ran aground and was captured in the harbor of Tripoli 29 December 1803. Bainbridge was held prisoner by the Tripolitans until 3 June 1806. During the War of 1812 he commanded Constitution and, on 26 December 1812, he engaged and captured HMS Java. Between 1824 and 1827 he was a Navy Commissioner. Commodore Bainbridge died in Philadelphia 28 July 1833 and was buried at Christ Church, Philadelphia.

(Brig: T. 259; l. 100'; b. 25'; dr. 14'; s. 11.5 k.; cpl. 100; a. 12 32-pdr. car.; cl. Bainbridge)

The first Bainbridge, a 12-gun brig, was launched 26 April 1842 by Boston Navy Yard and commissioned 16 December 1842, Commander Z. F. Johnston in command.

Sailing from Boston 26 January 1843, Bainbridge served with the Home Squadron until returning to New York 3 May 1844. During 26 June 1844-10 October 1847 she served with the Brazil Squadron. She laid up for most of the next year and then spent 10 April 1848-2 July 1850 with the African Squadron. She departed New York 2 November 1850 and until September 1856 cruised with both the African and Brazil Squadrons. She returned to Norfolk 10 September 1856.

Laid up at Norfolk Navy Yard 18 September 1856-28 April 1858, she departed Hampton Roads, Va., 18 May 1858 to join Commodore W. B. Shubrick's squadron for operations against Paraguay in retaliation for the attack on Water Witch in 1855. Bainbridge arrived at Asuncion, Paraguay, in company with the squadron in January 1859 and after the matter had been peacefully settled remained with the Brazil and African Squadrons until departing Rio de Janeiro 17 September 1860. She arrived at Boston 9 November 1860 and was placed out of commission.

Recommissioned 1 May 1861 Bainbridge sailed for the Gulf of Mexico 21 May 1861 and cruised there until June 1862. While in the area she captured two schooners and assisted in the capture of one steamer. On 3 August 1862 she sailed from New York to join the East Gulf Blockading Squadron at Key West, Fla.

In September 1862 she was ordered to Aspinwall, Panama, where between 22 and 24 November, a severe storm forced her to jettison all spars, sails, gun carriages howitzers, shot, powder, provisions, and water. After extensive repairs she sailed for New York, arriving in May 1863. On 21 August 1863 while proceeding to her station with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron she capsized off Cape Hatteras with the loss of all but one of her crew.