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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Bagley, Worth

From "The first fallen hero, a biographical sketch of Worth Bagley, ensign, U.S.N."by Grady L. E. Carroll, 1979

6 Apr. 1874–11 May 1898

Worth Bagley, naval officer, was born in Raleigh, the son of Major William Henry Bagley (5 July 1833–21 Feb. 1886) of Perquimans County, attorney, editor of the Elizabeth City Sentinel, soldier, state senator, private secretary to Governor Jonathan Worth, and marshal of the North Carolina Supreme Court. His mother was Adelaide Worth, Governor Worth's daughter. His sister and brother were Addie Worth (1869–1943), wife of editor and politician Josephus Daniels, and Admiral David Worth, who was commander of a destroyer in World War I. Worth received his education at the Centennial Graded School and at the Raleigh Male Academy, under schoolmasters Hugh Morson and Captain Claude B. Denson. He was appointed by Congressman D. H. Bunn from the Fourth District to the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he was graduated in June 1895.

Bagley spent the succeeding two years on several vessels of the North Atlantic Squadron and, after final examination, was commissioned as ensign on 1 July 1897. He served on the Indiana and the Maine and was invited to become executive officer on the Winslow, a torpedo boat. Following destruction of the Maine, the Winslow proceeded to Key West. On 11 May 1898, as the Winslow was engaged in a battle in the harbor of Cardenas, Cuba, Bagley and two other sailors were killed in the performance of duty. On 13 May funeral services were held in Key West. On arrival in Raleigh, Bagley's body lay in state in the Capitol. The funeral was held in the south end of Capitol Square, and he was interred with the honors of a brigadier general in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, near the graves of his father, his mother, and Governor Worth.

The North Carolina General Assembly directed that a suitable spot on Capitol Square be set aside for a permanent monument to Bagley. Captain N. W. West suggested contributions for a monument in a letter to the Raleigh Morning Post. Citizens of North Carolina provided the funds, and F. Packer was the sculptor of the statue. On 20 May 1907 the statue to the memory to the only American naval officer killed in the Spanish-American War was unveiled, and two other heroes of the war, Victor Blue and Richmond Pearson Hobson, grandson of North Carolina Chief Justice Richmond Pearson, made tributes.

From "The first fallen hero, a biographical sketch of Worth Bagley, ensign, U.S.N."References:

Beth G. Crabtree, North Carolina Governors, 1585 to 1958 (1958).

Josephus Daniels, Editor in Politics (1941).

North Carolina Journal of Education 3 (Apr., May 1900).

Records of Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh.

State Magazine 9 (6 Dec. 1941).

Gary Trawick and Paul Wyche, One Hundred Years, One Hundred Men (1971).

Richard L. Zuber, Jonathan Worth (1965).

Additional Resources:

Bagley Family Papers, 1848-1939 (collection no. 03457). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed February 14, 2013).

Smithsonian Instutite:

From Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, DocSouth, UNC. Bagley Worth search results in WorldCat:

May 11,1898 -- The Death of Ensign Worth Bagley, This Month in North Carolina History:

Ensign Worth Bagley, Learn NC:

Image Credits:

Daniels, Josephus. The first fallen hero, a biographical sketch of Worth Bagley, ensign, U.S.N. .. Norfolk, Va., S. W. Bowman. 1898. (accessed February 14, 2013).

From Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, DocSouth, UNC. Available from (accessed February 14, 2013).