George Mifflin Bache
George Mifflin Bache, 1840-1896

Guide to the George Mifflin Bache Papers,1821-1917, 1952, 1968

MS 212

A collection in the
Special Collections & Archives Department,
Nimitz Library

Naval Academy Seal

United States Naval Academy
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5029

Prepared by: Jennifer A. Bryan

Descriptive Summary

The George Mifflin Bache Papers were donated to the Nimitz Library by Captain Jack M. Seymour, USN (Ret.) on 8 October 1970.
1 linear foot.
Access to the George Mifflin Bache Papers is unrestricted.
The George Mifflin Bache Papers are the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information
Preferred Citation:
George Mifflin Bache Papers, MS 212
Special Collections & Archives Department
Nimitz Library
United States Naval Academy

Biographical Sketch

George Mifflin Bache was born in Washington, D.C. on November 12, 1840, the son of George Mifflin Bache [Sr.], a lieutenant in the Navy, and Eliza (Patterson) Bache, daughter of Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson. Benjamin Franklin was his great-great-grandfather. Bache was also related to Alexander James Dallas, Secretary of the Treasury under President James Madison, and George Mifflin Dallas, Vice President of the United States from 1845 to 1849. Among his uncles were Alexander Dallas Bache, who became superintendent of the U.S. Coast Survey in 1843, and naval officer David Dixon Porter, son of Commodore David Porter.

In 1846, the elder Bache was swept overboard during a gale while in command of the U.S.S. Washington (brig), engaged on duty with the Coast Survey. Despite his father 's tragic death at sea, George Mifflin Bache embarked upon a naval career. Undoubtedly, both his father's and mother's connections aided him in his choice of vocation. He served as captain's clerk aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga (sloop-of-war) from August 1855 to May 1857. The same month he left the Saratoga, he was appointed Acting Master's Mate of the Coast Survey schooner Nautilus, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Wainwright, an uncle by marriage. In November 1857, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating on June 1, 1861.

George Mifflin Bache had a distinguished career during the Civil War. He received his lieutenant's commission in July 1862 and in November took command of the U.S.S. Cincinnati (sternwheel casemate gunboat). That vessel was invovled in the operations against Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1863 and was sunk during an engagement with Confederate batteries defending the approaches to the city. The Secretary of the Navy wrote a letter to Bache commending him and the Cincinnati's surviving officers and crew for their bravery in action. Bache subsequently took command of the U.S.S. Lexington (sidewheel gunboat) and in late 1864 assumed the duties of executive officer aboard the U.S.S. Powhatan (steam sloop-of-war) in the North Atlantic Squadron. That ship was involved in the attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Bache was wounded in the shoulder while taking part in the land assault on that post.

On July 25, 1866, Bache was commissioned a lieutenant commander. He served as the executive officer of the U.S.S. Sacramento (steam sloop-of-war) from September 1866 until June 1867, when the vessel ran aground on reefs at the mouth of the Godavary River on the east coast of India. All hands survived, but the ship was lost. A Navy General Court Martial held in New York in January 1868 suspended Bache and Captain Napoleon Collins. On March 11, 1869, Navy Department General Order No. 102 revoked the sentence of the court martial and restored Bache's pay.

From 1869 to 1872, Bache served aboard the U.S.S. Juniata (steam sloop-of-war) during that vessel's cruise in European waters. His final post was at the Washington Navy Yard. Bache retired with the rank of commander in 1875. He died on February 11, 1896, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He was survived by his wife, the former Harriet DuBois of Hallstead, Pennsylvania, and three daughters.

The destroyer Bache (DD-470), commissioned on November 14, 1942, was named for Commander George Mifflin Bache.

Scope and Content Note

The collection spans the dates 1821 to 1968, with the bulk of the documents dating from 1855 to 1896, and consists mostly of letters, journals, photographs, and other papers related to George Mifflin Bache and his naval career. Letters from Bache to his mother Eliza (Patterson) Bache (1814-1884) make up the majority of the correspondence. Five of these letters date from the Civil War, including one describing the Red River campaign in 1864. In addition, there are a group of papers related to the loss of the U.S.S. Sacramento, a map of the battle of Chattanooga drawn by Dallas Bache (1838-1902), and three doucments related to George Mifflin Bache [Sr.] (d. 1846).

A small amount of material relates to the Pattersons, including two journals kept by Eliza Patterson (one a transcribed copy) and one journal kept by her sister George Ann (1819-1893) when they sailed with their father during his command of the Mediterranean Squadron in the 1830s. There is a typescript copy of one lengthy letter written in 1821 from Margaret (Porter) Heap (1791-1858) to Evelina (Anderson) Porter (1791-1871). Evelina Porter was the wife of Commodore David Porter (1780-1843) and the mother of George Mifflin Bache's uncle David Dixon Porter (1813-1891). Margaret Porter, David Porter's sister, was married to naval surgeon Samuel Davies Heap (1781-1853), who at the time of the letter was in charge of the hospital of the American Mediterranean fleet. He later served as United States consul to Tunis.

Among the photographs are several of George Mifflin Bache at various points in his life, including one of him in his midshipman uniform and an opalotype (probably dating from 1866) showing him in the uniform of a lieutenant commander. A cabinet card from the Washington, D.C. studio of Charles Milton Bell, who was in business from 1873 to 1909, depicts Bache in the uniform of a commander. Another cabinet card of Bache in civilian clothes was taken at the Rieman & Co. studio in San Francisco.

There are two cartes-de visite of his cousin Thomas Harman Patterson (1820-1889), a naval officer, and one of his uncle General William Hemsley Emory (1811-1887), none of which are dated. One photograph of Patterson shows him in a commander's uniform before the uniform regulations were modified in July, 1862. It bears a Boston photographer's stamp on the back, so it most likely dates from early 1862 when Patterson would have been in Boston to take command of the U.S.S. Chocura (screw steam gunboat). The other photograph of Patterson shows him in the commander's uniform of 1864.

The connection of two items to George Mifflin Bache is unclear. One is the third volume of a coast survey of Japan, in Japanese, and the other is a letter from bootmaker Jonathan Forrest to Colonel James Duncan Graham, whose son graduated from the Naval Academy in 1862. Eight books and one photograph album have been removed from the collection and are cataloged separately.

Related Collections

Journal of the U.S.S. Plymouth, MS 10 is George Mifflin Bache's log of his midshipman practice cruise aboard the sloop-of-war Plymouth in the summer of 1860.

Additional documents connected to George Mifflin Bache are located at the Navy Department Library, Naval History and Heritage Command in the Commander George Mifflin Bache, USN Collection (

Series Descriptions

The George Mifflin Bache Papers comprises eight series: 1) Correspondence; 2) Journals; 3) U.S. Navy; 4) Ephemera; 5) Photographs; 6) Bache Family; 7) Patterson Family; 8) Miscellaneous documents.

CORRESPONDENCE, 1861-1873. (9 folders)

Arranged into incoming and outgoing letters, thereunder chronologically.

Incoming correspondence consists of seven items from David Dixon Porter, George Mifflin Bache's uncle. In a letter dated February 14, 1864, from the flagship of the Mississippi Squadron, Porter informs his nephew of the death of Bache's sister from typhoid fever. Porter was married to George Ann Patterson, the sister of Eliza (Patterson) Bache.

All outgoing correspondence, 135 items, is from George Mifflin Bache to his mother Eliza (Patterson) Bache. A letter dated May 19, 1864, describing the Red River campaign, is missing four pages (5-8). An incomplete letter in fragile condition, dated July 3, 1867, describes the loss of the sloop-of-war Sacramento.

JOURNALS, 1855-1857. (3 folders)

Arranged chronologically.

George Mifflin Bache kept these three volumes, each marked "Private Journal," while serving as captain's clerk aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga. During this time period, the Saratoga cruised the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. At the beginning of the second journal, Bache mentions a desire to join the U.S. Coast Survey. His father's brother Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867) was Superintendent of the Coast Survey and in May 1857, George Mifflin Bache was appointed Acting Master's Mate of the U.S.S. Nautilus (schooner) commanded by Lieutenant Richard Wainwright (1817-1862), husband of George Mifflin Bache's aunt Sarah Franklin Bache.

The entry for January 24, 1857 in the third volume contains a piece of midshipman's doggerel "occasioned by some of the Acting Midshipmen at the Naval Academy burning down a round-house."

U.S. NAVY, 1867-1890 and undated. (6 folders)

Arranged chronologically.

Navy Department orders and circulars; papers related to the loss of the sloop-of-war Sacramento; A Bill for the relief of Commander George M. Bache, United States Navy (retired) 50th Cong., 1st sess., S.1169; undated "War Reminiscences;" a memorandum regarding abolishment of the Washington Navy Yard; and papers outlining George M. Bache's naval service.

EPHEMERA, 1869, 1888-1889, 1896 and undated. (2 folders)

Arranged chronologically.

Calling cards and invitations, and obituaries of George M. Bache. One invitation is to Admiral and Mrs. Porter's 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

PHOTOGRAPHS, 1861-1880 and undated. (8 folders)

Arranged by subject, with undated material last.

Photographs of: George M. Bache; the USNA Class of 1861 (copy); Bache's cousin Thomas Harman Patterson and uncle William Hemsley Emory; the U.S.S. Cincinnati; the U.S.S. Lexington; Madras (Chennai), India; and an unidentified woman (perhaps one of Bache's daughters) and unidentified naval officer.

Among the photographs of Bache are one in his midshipman uniform, presumably his graduation picture.

BACHE FAMILY, 1846-1848, [1863?], 1885-1917, 1968. (3 folders)

Arranged chronologically.

Documents related to the death of George Mifflin Bache [Sr.], a map of the Battle of Chattanooga drawn by Dallas Bache, and clippings about relatives of George M. Bache.

PATTERSON FAMILY, 1832-1834, 1875. (5 folders)

Arranged alphabetically, thereunder chronologically.

Journals and letters of Eliza, George Ann, and Harriet Patterson, the daughters of Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson (1786-1839) and his wife George Ann Pollock (1787-1851). One of Eliza's two journals is a partially handwritten, partially typed copy. Her other journal, from 1834, is entitled "Journey from Alexandria to Cairo." George Ann's journal begins in mid-sentence.

MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS, 1821, 1860, 1952, 1968, and undated.(4 folders)

Arranged chronologically.

Typescript copy of a letter from Margaret (Porter) Heap to Evelina (Anderson) Porter; letter from Jonathan Forrest to Colonel James Duncan Graham; items related to destroyer U.S.S.Bache; volume 3 of a coast survey of Japan, in Japanese.

Container List

Box Folder  
1 Incoming from D.D. Porter, 1861-1890
2 Outgoing to mother, 1862, 1864

Includes letter written aboard the U.S.S. Lexington dated May 19, 1864, describing the Red River campaign

3 Outgoing to mother, 1866-1868

Includes letter detailing the loss of the sloop-of-war Sacramento

4 Outgoing to mother, 1869
5 Outgoing to mother, 1870, January 10–May 30
6 Outgoing to mother, 1870, June 14– November 24
7 Outgoing to mother, 1871
8 Outgoing to mother, 1872
9 Outgoing to mother, 1873
10 Journal, 1855, November 22–1856, April 8
11 Journal, 1856, July 3–August 13
12 Journal, 1856, October 9–1857, April 3
Box Folder
1 U.S. Navy Orders and Circulars, 1867, 1875, 1890
2 Papers related to the loss of the U.S.S. Sacramento, 1867-1869
3 Bill for the relief of Commander George M. Bache, 1888
4 "War Reminiscences," n.d. [after 1865]
5 Memorandum re abolishment of the Washington Navy Yard, n.d. [after 1865]
6 Papers related to G.M. Bache's naval service, n.d.
7 Calling cards and invitations, n.d., 1869, 1888-1889
8 Obituaries of George M. Bache, 1896
9 George Mifflin Bache, ca. 1861, ca. 1870, ca. 1874, ca. 1880

Four photographs, one showing Bache in his midshipman uniform

10 George Mifflin Bache, 1866?


11 U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1861

Copy of original

12 Thomas Harman Patterson and William Hemsley Emory, 1862, 1864, n.d.
13 U.S.S. Lexington, 1864
14 Madras, 1867

"Pier for landing & discharging lighters"

15 Unidentified, n.d.
16 Papers related to the death of George M. Bache [Sr.], [1846?]-1848
17 Map of the Battle of Chattanooga - D[allas] Bache, n.d. [1863?]
18 Clippings–Relatives of George Mifflin Bache
19 Journal–Eliza C. Patterson, 1832, July-1833 [September?]

Handwritten and typescript copy of original

20 Journal–[Eliza C. Patterson], 1834
21 D[avid] D[ixon] Porter to [Eliza (Patterson) Bache], 1875, April 14
22 Journal–[George Ann Patterson?], [1834]
23 H[arriet] L. Patterson to Mrs. Edward Coleman, 1833, June 17
24 Margaret (Porter) Heap to Evelina (Anderson) Porter, 1821, May 10 & 16
Box Folder
3 1 Forrest, Jno to J.D. Graham, 1860, May 2
2 U.S.S. Bache (Destroyer, DD-470), 1952, 1968
3 Coast Survey of Japan vol. 3, n.d.

In Japanese with paper title label in English on cover

Box Folder
1 U.S.S. Cincinnati, ca. 1863