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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1818

Vol. I

(Born Pa.)

Hartman Bache

(Ap'd Pa.)


Born Sep. 3, 1798, Philadelphia, PA.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 22, 1814, to July 24, 1818, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Captain, Staff. — Asst. Top. Engineer, July 24, 1818.

Served: on Surveys in Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, for a Naval Depot, 1818, — for defenses of New York harbor, 1819, — for defenses of Portland harbor, Me., 1820, — for defenses of Georgetown and Charleston harbors, S. C., 1821‑25, — for defenses of the Narrows of Penobscot River, Me., 1821, — for Naval Rendezvous and defenses at Mount Desert Island, Me., 1822, — for Canal from Conewago Falls, Pa., to Port Deposit, Md., 1823, — for Harbor Improvements at Marblehead, and Holmes' Holl, Martha's Vineyard, Mas., 1825, — for extension of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal from Georgetown, D. C., to Alexandria, Va., 1827, — for Internal Improvements in North Carolina, 1827‑28, and South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, 1828, — for Preservation of Tucker's Island, N. J.,

(Bvt. Major, July 24, 1828, For Faithful Service Ten Years in one Grade)

1828, — for Harbor Improvements on Long Island Sound, and Sandy Bay, Mas., 1829, — of Delaware and Raritan rivers, N. J., 1830, — for Railroad from Williamsport, Pa., to Elmira, N. Y., 1832, — for Harbors

(Bvt. Major, Staff — Top. Engineer, Aug. 1, 1832)

on Lake Champlain, N. Y., 1833, — for Road in the Valley of Kennebec River, Me., 1834, — for Brandywine Shoal Light-house, Del., 1834‑35, and for Roadstead at Cape May, N. J., 1835; as Superintending Top. Engineer of Light-house on Brandywine Shoal, Del., 1835‑47, — of Harbor

(Major, Corps of Top. Engineers, July 7, 1838)

Improvements and Surveys in Delaware Bay, 1839‑52, — of Surveys for defenses of Patapsco River, Md., 1841‑42, — of Sandy Hook, N. J., 1842, — of Florida Reef, for defenses, 1845‑47, — of the construction of Brandywine Screw-pile Light-house and Ice Harbor, Del., 1848‑51, — and examination of site of Beacon off Nantucket, Mas., 1850‑51; as Member of Board of Top. Engineers for Lake Harbors and Western Rivers, Sep. 16, 1852, to Nov. 20, 1855; as Light-house Engineer, for Delaware and Chesapeake bays, Oct. 9, 1852, to May, 1855; as Light-house Engineer for Pacific Coast, July 1, 1855, to Mar. 21, 1859, — and Inspector, Aug. 10, 1855, to Mar. 31, 1859; in charge of Military Roads on Pacific Coast, 1855‑58; and as Light-house Engineer for 4th, 5th, and 7th Light-house Districts, June 17, 1859, to Apr. 11, 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in charge of Bureau of Top. Engineers, Washington, D. C., Apr. 11 to Dec. 11,

(Lieut.‑Colonel, Corps of Top. Engineers, Aug. 6, 1861)

1861, — and as Assistant in Top. Bureau, Dec. 11, 1861, to June 16, 1862; as Superintending Engineer of Fts. Mifflin and Delaware, and

(Colonel, Corps of Engineers, Mar. 3, 1863)

10‑gun Battery opposite the latter, Nov. 5, 1864, to Nov. 11, 1865; Engineer

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865,
for Long, Faithful, and Meritorious Services)

 p203  of Fourth Light-house District, Apr. 11, 1861, to Feb. 20, 1870; and as Member of Light-house Board, June 16, 1862, to Feb. 20, 1870, — and of Board on Block Island Breakwater, R. I., Mar., 1868.

Retired from Active Service, Mar. 7, 1867, under the Law of July 17, 1862, "having been borne on the Army Register more than 45 Years."

Died, Oct. 8, 1872, at Philadelphia, Pa.: Aged 74.

Buried, Woodlands Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA.

Biographical Sketch.

Bvt. Brigadier-General Hartman Bache was born Sep. 3, 1798, at Philadelphia, Pa., and died in his native city Oct. 8, 1872, at the age of seventy-four. His father was Benjamin Franklin Bache, the eldest grandson of the celebrated Dr. Franklin, by whom he was carefully educated in France, the accomplished pupil proving eminently worthy of his distinguished ancestor.

General Hartman Bache, after receiving a good English and classical education, entered the U. S. Military Academy when scarce sixteen, from which institution he was graduated July 24, 1818, and at once entered the Army as assistant topographical engineer, with the rank of Bvt. Captain in the General Staff. From this time till 1847 he was engaged chiefly on surveys for coast defenses, naval depots, harbor and river improvements, roads and canals, and for light-house sites; in the mean while, having been brevetted, July 24, 1828, a Major "for faithful service ten years in one grade," and promoted to be Bvt. Major of Staff (Topographical Engineer), Aug. 1, 1832, and Major in the Corps of Topographical Engineers upon its formation, July 7, 1838. In the execution of these numerous and varied surveys he was, says the Chief of Engineers, "the first to use, in this country, the refined methods of survey and mapping, and the results of his labors have served as models to the present day." Of his Charleston harbor survey and map, perhaps his chef d'oeuvre, we can speak in the highest terms of commendation, having constantly used it for years while superintending the construction of the defenses, light-houses, and improvements of its harbor, never during that period having discovered the slightest inaccuracy in its admirable topography and hydrography.

In 1835 Bache had designed a masonry light-house for Brandywine Shoal in Delaware Bay, and had commenced its foundations; but in 1847 he decided to construct it with Mitchell's iron screw-piles, which had been so successfully used at the Maplin Sands, Wye Entrance, and for other lights on the stormy British coast. The Brandywine Shoal Light-house had its focal plane forty-six feet above the sea level, a convenient keeper's dwelling being arranged just below the lantern. For its protection against the heavy drift-ice of Delaware Bay, a strong, elongated, hexagonal ice-breaker was formed of thirty-seven iron screw-piles, thoroughly connected by iron braces, to diffuse the violent ice concussions over the whole structure. This screw-pile and its ice-breaker, built at an expense of less than $65,000, have successfully encountered storm and flood for near a quarter of a century, and yet stand as enduring monuments of their constructor's engineering skill.​a

Bache, after the completion of these works, became a Member of the Board of Engineers for Lake Harbors and Western Rivers; and from 1855 to 1859 was on duty on the Pacific Coast as Light-house Engineer and Inspector, and in charge of military roads. Returning to the Atlantic, June 16, 1859, he was till Apr. 11, 1861, the Light-house Engineer of the extended coast line comprising the Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Light-house Districts. Upon these three classes of engineering — harbors, rivers, and light-houses — he had bestowed much patient study and close observation. As a noted instance of his attention to the first class may be cited  p204 that, as early as 1822, while he was making surveys at Mount Desert Island in Maine, and a quarter of a century before the first breakwater at Dover, on the coast of England, was built, he discovered in one of Nature's harbors the advantages in deep water of a vertical exterior face for breakwaters, of which he was ever after the earnest advocate; of the second class may be adduced his success­ful plan for improving the navigation of the River Thames in Connecticut by a system of wing-dams and dredging; and of the last, his numerous light-house works attest his constructive skill.

During the Rebellion, from Apr. 11, 1861, to June 16, 1862, Bache was on duty in the Topographical Bureau at Washington city, first in charge, and then as an assistant; and subsequently, till the termination of his military career, Feb. 21, 1870, he was a very efficient member of the Light-house Board, being also, from Nov. 5, 1864, to Nov. 11, 1865, in charge of the defenses of the Delaware. In the mean while he had been promoted Lieut.‑Colonel, Corps of Topographical Engineers, Aug. 6, 1861, and Colonel, Corps of Engineers, Mar. 3, 1863, when the former corps was merged in the latter; brevetted Brigadier-General U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, "for long, faithful, and meritorious services;" and retired from active service Mar. 7, 1867, after half a century of faithful duty in the Army, and of conscientious devotion to his profession. With just pride, therefore, did he say, a few weeks before his death, "I have never in my long period of service asked to be relieved from an order, and never but once for leave of absence, which was to enable me to join my son (Colonel F. M. Bache), dying in 1867 in France from disease contracted while with the Army of the Potomac."

Though deprived, a week after his birth, of the fostering care of a father, Bache, by his careful self-culture, untiring industry, methodical habits, and mental discipline, proved a worthy descendant of an illustrious ancestry, and honored a name as noted in social circles as eminent for science. From his first entrance into the Military Academy, he exhibited striking characteristics. Though staid, he was courteous in manner, zealous and devoted to study, firm and fearless in right, solid and stable in judgment, subordinate to superiors, and loving to comrades, and withal, possessing a fine figure lithe as a Gaul, soldierly bearing, and manly presence, was the pattern lad of his class, upon whom was bestowed its highest military honor, — the Colonel of the Corps of Cadets. The boy proved the father to the man, who, as an officer in every grade, performed all that was intrusted to him with steady persistency and exhaustive thoroughness; was ever at his post of duty, and neglected no responsibility imposed by the Government; though decidedly pertinacious in his professional opinions, was never dogmatic in their advocacy; and, while a strict disciplinarian, he so tempered his authority with justice and kindness that obedience was more the result of affection than of command. But, with all his soldierly qualities, he was yet more estimable in his domestic sphere. Simple and unostentatious in manner; modestly reserved, with dignified self-respect; deferential to equals and reverent to superiors; polished in speech and genial in intercourse; cheerful in spirit, and equable in temper; truthful to bluntness, conveying no false impression; neither the flatterer of power nor the detractor of merit; sensitive of his honor, and of spotless integrity; faithful in friendship, and sympathetic to misfortune; mild in his judgments, and nobly forgiving; denying to self, but lavish in charity; of masculine firmness, with the tenderness of woman; passionately fond of children, ever won by his caresses; and devoted to his family, of which he was the perpetual idol. His harmonious development of character strengthened with his years, leaving no wrinkles on the heart; his freshness of feeling was never hardened or perverted by the world; but he continued good without affectation, bounti­ful without  p205 ostentation, full of generous impulses and manly excellence, and in the shadow of death could truthfully say that —

"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;

In feelings, not in figures on a dial.

We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives

Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best."

Thayer's Note:

a The sea is a rough element, and technology has advanced by leaps: Bache's lighthouse served its purpose beautifully — but no longer stands, having been superseded in 1914, although traces of the substructure remain. See the illustrated page at Lighthouse Friends; excellent except for its consistent misspelling of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Col. Abert's name.

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Page updated: 9 Mar 13