The Sad Tale of Lieutenant Bayard E Hand Part Two

The Sad Tale of Lt Bayard E Hand Part Two

When I was researching Bayard E Hand via Google an interesting article was listed high in the results. It was entitled “A Sailor’s Odd ‘Cruise.’” Someone had copied the entry to their family history from the book, A History of Rome and Floyd County by George Magruder Battey, Jr.

In summary, it relates that Bayard fell in love with a young Virginian girl just after graduating from the academy. They were joined in marriage but only had a short time together before he shipped out to South America. She then went to live with his mother and stepfather in Rome GA to await his return. The length of time of his absence is not noted, just that his ship put in to Wilmington NC, from whence he went on another 30 day leave to visit his wife and his parents. He returned to Wilmington, somehow contracted pneumonia and died on July 16, 1855 (a glaring error as will be seen below). His stepfather had him buried in Rome GA and placed a tombstone over him that referenced his career in the USN. This led to an unforeseen problem much later, when Sherman’s forces occupied the area in 1864. Someone took it into their head to remove Bayard from “traitorous” soil and had him shipped north to be reburied in a more friendly land. His stepfather was understandably outraged, but could do nothing about it until sometime after the war, when he successfully retrieved his step son’s body.

Though the historian was most likely well versed in the history of the disposition of the lieutenant’s body, the case is somewhat different when it comes to the details he relates about Bayard when he was alive.

Carrying forward from where I left off in last week’s post, Bayard left on a cruise on August 9, 1853 to the Brazil station shortly after graduating from the naval academy. There was no mention of him being married at this time. He was promoted twice in the time he was gone, coming back a lieutenant in November of 1855. (It can be seen by this date that the historian was in error as to Bayard’s death date, though to be fair his may have been a printer’s typo).

Throughout 1856 up until September 1858, Bayard was attached to vessels serving in the Coast Survey. This was a service run by the Treasury Department which had as its mission to map rivers, creeks, bays, harbors, etc. along the coastline to promote and protect the nation’s water borne trade and commerce. Often they were called on to rescue merchant vessels in dire straits. Bayard was awarded a gold chronometer for his part in one such rescue.

I have records that indicate that Bayard served in the Coast Survey from as far north as New York to as far south as Florida. And my guess is that he spent a good deal of his time in the Carolinas, and in North Carolina in particular. For on September 27, 1858, Bayard married Alice Whitfield in Carteret County, NC, most likely in or near the county seat – Beaufort. Further research revealed that she was not a Virginian, but a North Carolinian.

The rest of my chronology for Bayard follows the order, if not the time period put forward by the historian. After his honeymoon with his sixteen year old wife, Bayard reported for naval duty in the Paraguay Expedition. This expedition was a punitive action triggered by an insult to the flag, when forces of the Paraguayan government fired on a US vessel in 1855, killing a US seaman.  I have differing records as to which vessel he served on. Both were steamers that were especially chartered for the expedition. One possibility was the steamer Fulton under John Jay Almy, the other (my money is on this one) was the steamer Southern Star under Alexander M. Pennock. Both returned to the US in May of 1859, which lines up with the rest of his story. Bayard would have had one more one month’s leave with his wife before his death at Wilmington NC on July 16, 1859.

The poignant inscription at the bottom of Bayard E Hand’s tombstone reads:

The anchor of his soul was Faith in Christ.