Worth Bagley, Casualty of the Spanish-American War

A photograph of Bagley held by the N.C. Museum of History

A photograph of Bagley held by the N.C. Museum of History

On May 11, 1898, in battle at Cárdenas, Cuba, Ensign Worth Bagley of Raleigh became the first naval officer and first North Carolinian killed in the Spanish-American War. The sinking of the USS Maine on February 15, 1898, led to a declaration of war on Spain by the United States. North Carolina met President William McKinley’s call for troops by establishing three regiments.

Born in Raleigh in April 1874, Worth Bagley graduated at the United States Naval Academy in 1895. He achieved the rank of ensign in July 1897, and, in November, was appointed inspector of the new torpedo boat Winslow. When she went into commission the next month, Bagley became her executive officer. In April 1898, the Winslow was mobilized, with the fleet, for operations in Cuban waters.

A circa 1907-1914 postcard of the State Captiol with the Bagley monument in the foreground

A circa 1907-1914 postcard of the State Captiol with the Bagley monument in the foreground

On the morning of May 11, the ship went with two others to force open the entrance to the harbor of Cárdenas. The Winslow was fired upon by a Spanish gunboat and a battle ensued. The ship was disabled and was hauled out of range of the Spanish guns. Just as the engagement ended, Bagley and four sailors were killed by a shell.

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