Gregory Central

Home Page

Ref: Extracts : Vol IV, The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, p 447
University of Arizona Library, Tucson AZ

FRANCIS HOYT GREGORY (3 Oct 1789/4 Oct 1866):

Naval officer b Norwalk CT.
After receiving a common school education he went to sea on a naval vessel in 1807 and in 1809 entered the navy as Midshipman.  In 1810 while commanding one of the barges of the VESUVIUS at Belize, he encountered and captured a slaver and released numerous slaves.
In 1811 he was promoted to be acting master and assigned to the command of Gunboat No  162 with which he captured a pirate vessel and schooner and defeated a privateer whose crew and armament largely exceeded his own.
He was made Lieutenant 28 Jun 1812, served under Commodore Chauncey on Lake Ontario, and took part in numerous engagements.
In August 1814 he fell into the hands of the British, and for eighteen months was held prisoner in England.  Upon his release he joined the American fleet operating against the Algerine pirates.

From 1821-23 he commanded the schooner GRAMPUS, and was energetic in the suppression of piracy in West Indian waters.

In 1838 he was commissioned Commander and during the Mexican War commanded the RARITAN.

From 1849 until 1852 he commanded the African squadron.

At the opening of the Civil War he was detailed to superintend the building of war vessels under construction outside of the Navy yards, and was thus employed until his death.

On 16 Jul 1862 he was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral on the retired list, and died in Brooklyn NY 4 Oct 1866.

Ref: DIVISION OF NAVAL HISTORY, Ships’ Histories Section, Navy Department
HISTORY OF USS GREGORY
Statistics:
Overall Length            314 feet
Speed                          34 knots
Beam                           30 feet
Displacement              1,060 tons

The USS GREGORY was authorized  August 1916 by Act of Congress and was built as a destroyer (DD 82) by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts.  Her keel was laid on 25 August 1917 and she was launched on 29 January 1918.  Mrs. GEORGE S. TREVOR, great-granddaughter of REAR ADMIRAL FRANCIS HOYT GREGORY, served as her sponsor.

The ship was named GREGORY in honor of REAR ADMIRAL GREGORY.  Appointed midshipman in 1808, he was attached to the bomb brig VESUVIUS in 1810, and while in charge of one of the boats of that vessel captured a British slaver off Belize in 1811.  As commanding officer of gunboat 162 he captured five piratical vessels and put to flight a British privateer in the West Indies.  He later served with distinction under Commodore Chauncey in the squadron on Lake Ontario.

The USS GREGORY, one of the gallant old four-stacker destroyers of World War I vintage converted to a high-speed transport, was caught in a surprise attack by a Japanese cruiser and two destroyers of Lunga Point during the invasion of Guadalcanal.  Accompanied by only one other vessel, also a high speed transport, GREGORY nevertheless put up a gallant battle against stupendous odds before going down in ‘Iron Bottom’ Bay.

The USS GREGORY was commissioned on 1 Jun 1918 with Commander ARTHUR P. FAIRFIELD as commanding officer.  She joined the destroyers in the war zone eleven days later and was assigned to convoy duty in the Mediterranean.  Following the war she was placed out of commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Like many other ‘old salts’, GREGORY answered the call to arms when World War II threatened.  With two of her old fleet mates, COLHOUN and LITTLE, built in the same yard during the same period plus McKEAN, she was converted to a high-speed transport.  These four ships operated together as Transport Division TWELVE.

The four had their armament reduced to make room for landing boats and troops.  The change included removing the mainmast, six torpedo tubes, plating over all hull ports and the installation of heavy power-driven davits.

These changes were necessary to fit the vessel for carrying four LCVPs, assault boats capable of conveying 36 troops, one small vehicle, or up to five tons of cargo. The boats were lowered and taken aboard by the davits which stood out prominently amidships on either side, forming the trademark of the APDs.

During the early part of 1942, the division operated out of Pearl Harbor and took part in various exercises.  During the spring the division was moored at the Destroyer Base, San Diego CA, completing repairs and alterations.  On 7 June the division got underway for Pearl Harbor pulling in on 14 Jun3.  A cruise to Midway and back to Pearl Harbor preceded the ships departure for the Solomons where they served as transports and escorts.

Their armament reduced to allow room for boats and troops, the valiant APDs managed to get by until August.  In time however all four were wiped out.  COLHOUN was the first to go followed by LITTLE and GREGORY.  McKEAN managed to hold on until Nov 1943.

Fleet Admiral CHESTER W. NIMITZ paid tribute to these ships by saying….’LITTLE and GREGORY were sunk on the night of 4-5 Sep by an enemy force of at least three cruisers.  Both of these small vessels fought as well as possible against the overwhelming odds.”

“There were many instances on these three ships of valor and devotion to duty, not only in the actions when they were lost but as well during the prolonged arduous duties beforehand in the battle area…with little means they performed duties vital to the success of the campaign.”

LITTLE and GREGORY were steaming in a darkened condition off Guadalcanal on the night of 4 September.  Making 10 knots the ships were steaming on courses 130 degrees and its reciprocal 310 degrees, reversing course every hour on the hour.  The eastern end of the run was four miles NW of Lunga Point.  The course approximately paralleled the beach which was 2 miles off at the closest point.

In the past the ships had either screened or anchored at Tulagi Harbor, 21 miles north of Lunga Point.  Operations with the Marine Raider companies on Savo Island during the previous day kept the ships from reaching Lunga Point until sunset.  The decision against going into Tulagi Harbor was made because of poor visibility and the above maneuvers were made only to protect the ships from submarine attack.

At 0100 without a signal, LITTLE, leading the column, commenced to turn to 310 degrees when gunfire and flashes were heard and seen to the east.  At this time general quarters was sounded in the belief that a Japanese submarine was shelling the beach, as was their custom.

A series of 5 flares were dropped from a plane about this time between the two ships and the firing ships.  Instantly LITTLE was illuminated by a searchlight from GREGORY’s starboard quarter, followed by gunfire.  GREGORY opened fire with all 30 and 50 calib4r, 20 millimeter, and 4=inch guns that could be brought to bear.

As soon as GREGORY opened up, she was picked out by a searchlight on her port quarter followed by enemy gunfire.  An attempt to bring 30 caliber guns to bear failed when the scarf rings jammed.  Two hits on the port wing of the bridge cut off all communications and fire control, wounded the Captain, and killed most of the personnel on the bridge.  The ship lost all headway and other hits registered on the No. 2 stack, the port galley passageway and the fireroom.

Three minutes after the action started, word was passed to abandon ship.  After 30 minutes had passed the enemy commenced shelling again in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to shell personnel in the water.  They also dropped depth charges to blast any survivors who might be swimming around.  GREGORY sank stern first about 40 minutes after the action and LITTLE sank on an even keel about two hours later.

GREGORY’s commanding officer at the time of her loss, LIEUTENANT COMMANDER H. F. BAUER, was reported missing in action at that time and was officially declared dead a year later.  A destroyer has since been named in his honor.  He was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for conspicuous gallantry during this engagement.

During her brief World War II career, GREGORY earned Two Battle Stars on the Asiatic Pacific Area Service Medal.
9 Aug 1942: 1 Star/Guadalcanal – Tulagi Landings
4-5 Sep 1942: 1 Star/Capture and Defense of Guadalcanal