Wednesday, January 28, 2009

From Tennessee To A Life At Sea

Born the son of a Spanish merchant who came to America in 1776 and joined the American Revolution, David Glascow Farragut rose to become an admiral of the United States Navy. His devotion to duty and remarkable skills were such that his contribution to the Union victory in the War Between the States was profound.

In 1808, at the age of 7, David Farragut was adopted by the Porter family, whose patriarch was the officer in charge of naval operations in New Orleans. David enlisted as a midshipman in the United States Navy at the age of 9. At the age of 12, he was given command of a captured ship, which he guided safely to harbor. At the age of 13 he was captured and wounded in a naval battle in Valparaiso Bay, Chile, spent a year imprisoned, then was traded for another prisoner.

During the Civil War, the Confederacy's last open port on the Gulf of Mexico was Mobile Bay, Alabama. Mines, known then as torpedoes, were scattered across the bay, with the hope of keeping Union sailors offshore. As Farragut's ships charged the bay, one was blown up by a mine, and Farragut, lashed to the rigging of his ship, called (paraphrased) for his men to press onward: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"

The lithograph above is from a U.S. Navy recruiting poster used in World War I and the photograph below is from the Matthew Brady Collection, taken in 1863. David Farragut's stature was such that he was chosen as a pallbearer at the funeral of Abraham Lincoln and he remains a giant in the history of the United States Navy.

1 comment:

High Desert Diva said...

Interesting bit of history.