Admiral David Farragut
West Gulf Blockading Squadron Commander
"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" was the reported battle cry of Admiral Farragut after the monitor USS Tecumseh sank as his squadron ran through tethered naval mines into Mobile Bay. The actual quotes were his shouts of orders to other ships in the invasion line. He said, "Damn the torpedoes!" "Captain Drayton, go ahead!" "Jouett, full speed ahead!" At the time, Admiral Farragut was tied in the rigging of his flag ship to be above the battle smoke so he could see battle conditions. His fleet got by two forts, defeated the Confederate Navy, and closed Mobile Bay which was a major port of entry for war supplies.
David Glasgow Farragut spent most of his life in the United States Navy. He was born near Knoxville, Tennessee on July 5, 1801. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1808 in New Orleans, his mother and Sailing Master David Porter, a house guest, died. David Porter's son, who was later known as Captain and Com. David Porter, volunteered to adopt James Farragut and prepare him for the navy. James later changed his first name to David to honor the Porter family. The Porter family moved to Washington, D. C. where David Farragut met the Secretary of the Navy. At the age of nine, David was promised an appointment as a midshipman as soon as he completed the tenth year of school. He continued to go to school between naval voyages with Captain Porter. At the age of twelve, David Farragut was made master of a captured vessel during the War of 1812. He brought it safely into Valparaiso, Chile. In his first battle at the age of twelve, he performed the duties of captain's aid, quarter gunner, and powder boy. He was wounded and captured in this battle in Valparaiso Bay. It was more than a year before he was exchanged. At the age of twenty-one, David Farragut was made executive officer of Com. Porter's flag ship. A year later he was given command of a ship.
David Farragut remained in the U. S. Navy when the Civil War began even though he was a southerner. His first major assignment was to capture New Orleans. It was the key port near the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it was the largest city in the Confederacy. He had a force of forty-eight vessels. They fought their way past two forts and destroyed the Confederate fleet that guarded the river approach. New Orleans then surrendered. Incidentally, the commander of the mortar flotilla section of the fleet was David Dixon Porter, the son of David Farragut's guardian. Admiral Farragut's vessels helped open up the Mississippi River by fighting at many other locations such as Port Hudson and Vicksburg.
Admiral Farragut was highly honored for leading the Union's greatest naval victories of the Civil War. He was the first U. S. Navy officer to hold the ranks of rear admiral and admiral. He served as a pallbearer at President Lincoln's funeral. Admiral Farragut died in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on August 14, 1870.
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