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David Glasgow Farragut

By John T. Marck

David Farragut was born in Campbell's Station, Tennessee on July 5, 1801. Adopted at a young age by Commodore David D. Porter, it was through Porter's teachings that Farragut was commissioned a midshipman on December 17, 1810, serving under his adopted father during the War of 1812.

At the age of twelve, Farragut was a master seaman, and by 1822, he was promoted to lieutenant, and promoted again in 1844 to commander. By 1855 he had attained the rank of captain.

Living in Norfolk, when Virginia seceded in April 1861, he was treated in an unwelcome fashion because of his Northern sympathies. As a result, he moved to the North and in December 1861 was placed in command of the West Gulf Blocking Squadron by Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Wells. His first command was to capture New Orleans, so Farragut spent two months getting his squadron in fighting condition, then moved against Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip. These two forts guarded the river that led to New Orleans. His squadron consisted on twenty-four wooden ships and nineteen mortar boats. On April 24, 1862, Farragut and his squadron were successful in moving past the forts, and the next day, New Orleans surrendered. Farragut's victory earned him a promotion to rear admiral on July 16, 1862 as well as thanks from Congress.

By the summer of 1862, Farragut was in command on the Mississippi River, however, in spite of his efforts and those of the army, Vicksburg had not yet been captured. Although he initiated blockades on the Gulf Coast, the city of Mobile still held out, protected by Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan.

By the early months of 1864, Farragut was instructed to capture Mobile. Following a plan that took five months to formulate, Farragut attacked in what is known as the Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864. As Farragut's fleet moved through the waters in the channel, past Fort Morgan, the waters became heavily mined. These mines were known as torpedoes at the time.

As one of his ships, the Tecumseh hit a torpedo and sank, the remainder of his fleet stopped, hesitating to move forward. Farragut, aboard the Hartford, shouted out to his men, "Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!" Moving forward, Farragut captured the Confederate CSS Tennessee along with its captain, Admiral Franklin Buchanan. With this the Confederate naval resistance subsided, and Fort Morgan surrendered on August 23. This was Farragut's greatest victory and as such, he was promoted to vice-admiral.

During the Fort Fisher campaign, Farragut had fallen ill, but recovered early in 1865 to take part in operations on the James River.

When the war ended, Farragut was promoted to the rank of full admiral, and he continued service, commanding the European Squadron in 1867-1868.

David Farragut died on August 14, 1870 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Copyright 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.