To: Task Force 67

We believe the enemy has undoubtedly suffered a crushing defeat. We thank Admiral Kinkaid for his intervention yesterday. We thank Lee for his sturdy effort last night. Our own aircraft has been grand in its relentless hammering of the foe. All those efforts are appreciated but our greatest homage goes to Callaghan, Scott and their men who with magnificent courage against seemingly hopeless odds drove back the first hostile attack and paved the way for the success to follow. To them the men of Cactus lift their battered helmets in deepest admiration.

General, U.S Marines
The first USS Barton, Benson- (Bristol-) class DD 599, was launched 31 January 1942 by Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; sponsored by Miss Barbara Dean Barton, granddaughter of Admiral Barton; and commissioned 29 May 1942, Lieutenant Commander Douglas H. Fox in command.

Barton departed New York 23 August, escorting Washington (BB 56) with Nicholas and Meade, transited the Panama Canal 27 August and arrived Tongatabu, Tonga Islands, 13 September. Assigned to Task Force 17 with DesRon 2, (Sims-class destroyers Morris, Anderson, Hughes, Mustin and Russell), she screened aircraft carrier Hornet (CV 8) in an aborted raid on on Buin, Faisi and Tonolai in the Shortland Islands, 5 October. She was still part of Hornet’s escort during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, 26 October, when Hornet was lost.

Barton’s casualties at the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Battle of Guadalcanal casualties

Source: Bureau of Personnel casualty report, NARA.

On 29 October, she rescued seventeen survivors of two downed air transport planes near Fabre Island.

On 12 November 1942, Barton helped escort transports into Guadalcanal’s Ironbottom Sound. After midnight, she was 11th in line among five cruisers and seven other destroyers (DesRon 12’s Aaron Ward, Laffey and Monssen plus goldplaters Cushing and Sterett and 2,100-tonners O’Bannon and Fletcher) as Rear Admiral Daniel J. Callaghan’s Task Group 67.4 intercepted a much stronger Japanese force led by battleships Hiei and Kirishima.

NOVEMBER 13–15, 1942

To the superb officers and men on the sea, on land, in the air, and under the seas who in the past five days have performed such magnificent feats for our country. You have won the undying gratitude of your country and have written our names in golden letters on the pages of history. No honor for you could be too great, my pride in you is beyond expression. Magnificently done. May God bless each and every one of you. To the glorious dead, hail heroes—may you all rest with God.

Admiral, U.S. Navy

In this First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Barton launched four torpedoes before backing full to avoid collision. Two torpedoes from an enemy destroyer hit her before she could get under way again—one in her forward fireroom and the other, almost immediately, in her forward engine room.

Barton quickly broke in two and sank with the loss of most of her crew, including LCdr. Fox. Only 42 survivors were later picked up by heavy cruiser Portland (CA 33); others were rescued by Higgins boats from Guadalcanal.

In 1992, an expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard located Barton’s bow southeast of Savo Island, resting on its port side in more than 2,000 feet of water with both forward 5-inch guns still trained to port. The ship’s stern section was not discovered.

Barton earned four battle stars in her less than two months in the Solomon Islands.

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A second USS Barton (DD 722) was the first Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer commissioned, 30 December 1943. A later Sumner-class destroyer, USS Douglas H. Fox (DD 779) was named for the 599’s commanding officer.

Source: Naval History & Heritage Command including Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.