David Farragut

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David Farragut
Admiral Farragut2.jpg
Birth name James Glasgow Farragut
Born (1801-07-05)July 5, 1801
Campbell's Station, Tennessee
Died August 14, 1870(1870-08-14) (aged 69)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire (now Kittery, Maine)
Place of burial Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx
Allegiance United States United States of America
Union
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1810–70
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held USS Ferret
Mare Island Naval Shipyard
European Squadron
Western Gulf Blockading Squadron
Battles/wars


War of 1812

West Indies Anti-Piracy Operations American Civil War

Signature Appletons' Farragut David Glasgow signature.png

David Glasgow Farragut (July 5, 1801 – August 14, 1870) was a flag officer of the United States Navy during the American Civil War. He was the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral in the United States Navy.[1][2] He is remembered in popular culture for his order at the Battle of Mobile Bay (which he won), usually paraphrased as: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" by U.S. Navy tradition.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Farragut was born in 1801 to Elizabeth Shine (1765–1808), of North Carolina Scotch-Irish American descent, and her husband Jordi Farragut (George) Farragut, a native of Minorca, Spain, at Lowe's Ferry on the Holston River in Tennessee.[5] It was a few miles southeast of Campbell's Station, near Knoxville.[6] His father operated the ferry and also served as a cavalry officer in the Tennessee militia.[2] Born Jordi Farragut, son of Antoni Farragut and Joana Mesquida, his father became a Spanish merchant captain from Minorca. He had joined the American Revolutionary cause after arriving in America in 1766, when he changed his first name to George.[6] His father was a naval lieutenant during the Revolutionary War, serving first with the South Carolina Navy then the Continental Naval forces. George and Elizabeth had moved west to Tennessee after George's service in the American Revolution.

In 1805, George Farragut accepted a position at the U.S. Port of New Orleans. He traveled there first and his family followed, in a 1,700-mile flatboat adventure aided by hired rivermen, the then four-year-old Farragut’s first voyage. The family was still living in New Orleans when his mother Elizabeth died of yellow fever. His father made plans to place the young children with friends and family who could better care for them.

David's birth name was James. After his mother's death, he agreed to living with and being adopted in 1808 by David Porter, a naval officer whose father had been friends with his father.[7] In 1812, James adopted the name David in honor of his adoptive father, with whom he went to sea late in 1810. David Farragut grew up in a naval family, as the adoptive brother of future Civil War admiral David Dixon Porter and commodore William D. Porter.

Marriage and family[edit]

After appointment and an initial cruise as acting lieutenant commanding USS Ferret, Farragut married Susan Caroline Marchant on September 2, 1824.[8] After years of ill-health, Susan Farragut died on December 27, 1840. Farragut was noted for his kindly treatment of his wife during her illness.[9] After the death of his first wife, Farragut married Virginia Dorcas Loyall, on December 26, 1843, with whom he had one surviving son, named Loyall Farragut, born October 12, 1844. Loyall Farragut graduated from West Point in 1868, and served as a second lieutenant in the US Army.

Naval service[edit]

Farragut as he appears in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

David Farragut's naval career began as a Midshipman when he was nine years old and continued for 60 years until his death on active duty at the age of 69. This included service in several wars, most notably during the American Civil War where he gained fame for winning several decisive naval battles.

War of 1812[edit]

Through the influence of his adoptive father, Farragut was commissioned a midshipman in the United States Navy on December 17, 1810, at the age of nine.[10][note 1] A prize master by the age of 12, Farragut fought in the War of 1812, serving under Captain David Porter. While serving aboard the USS Essex Farragut participated in capture of HMS Alert on August 13 of 1812 [11][12] and then helped to establish America's first naval base and colony in the Pacific, named Madisonville during the ill-fated Nuku Hiva Campaign. At the same time the Americans battled the hostile tribes on the islands with the help of their Te I'i allies.

Farragut was 12 years old when, during the War of 1812, he was given the assignment to bring a ship captured by the USS Essex safely to port.[13] He was wounded and captured while serving on the Essex during the engagement at Valparaiso Bay, Chile against the British on March 28, 1814.[14]

West Indies[edit]

Farragut was promoted to lieutenant in 1822 during the operations against West Indies pirates. In 1824 he was placed in command of the USS Ferret, which was his first command of a U.S. naval vessel.[15] He served in the Mosquito fleet, a fleet of ships fitted out to fight pirates in the Caribbean Sea after learning his old captain Commodore Porter would be commander of the fleet he asked for and received orders to serve aboard Greyhound one of the smaller vessels, commanded by John Porter, brother of David Porter. On February 14, 1823 the fleet set sail for the West Indies where for the next six months they would drive the pirates off the sea and rout them from their hiding places in among the various West India islands.[16] He was executive officer aboard the Experiment during its campaign in the West Indies fighting pirates.[17]

Mare Island Navy Yard[edit]

In 1853, Secretary of the Navy James C. Dobbin selected Commander David G. Farragut to create Mare Island Navy Yard near San Francisco in San Pablo Bay. In August 1854, Farragut was called to Washington from his post as Assistant Inspector of Ordnance at Norfolk, Virginia. President Franklin Pierce congratulated Farragut on his naval career and the task he was to undertake. September 16, 1854, Commander Farragut commissioned the Mare Island Navy Yard at Vallejo, California. Mare Island became the port for ship repair on the West Coast. Captain Farragut commissioned Mare Island, July 16, 1858. Farragut returned to a hero's welcome at Mare Island, August 11, 1859.[18][19]

Civil War service[edit]

Adm. David G. Farragut, c. 1863

Though living in Norfolk, Virginia, prior to the Civil War, Farragut made it clear to all who knew him that he regarded secession as treason. Just before the war's outbreak, Farragut moved with his Virginian-born wife to Hastings-on-Hudson, a small town just outside New York City.[5][20]

He offered his services to the Union but was initially given just a seat on the Naval Retirement Board. Offered a command by his foster brother David Dixon Porter for a special assignment, he hesitated upon learning the target might be Norfolk. As he had friends and relatives living there, he was relieved to learn the target was changed to his former childhood home of New Orleans. The Navy had some doubts about Farragut's loyalty to the Union because of his southern birth as well as that of his wife. Porter argued on his behalf and Farragut was accepted for the major role of attacking New Orleans.[20]

Farragut was appointed under secret instructions on 3 February 1862 to command the Gulf blockading squadron, sailing from Hampton Roads in the screw steamer USS Hartford bearing twenty-five guns, which he made his flagship, accompanied by a fleet of seventeen Man of war ships. He reached the mouth of the Mississippi River, nearby which were the Confederate Forts Philip and Jackson situated opposite one another along the banks of the river with a combined armament of more than 100 heavy guns and a complement of seven hundred men. Now aware of Farragut's approach the Confederates had amassed a fleet of sixteen gunboats just outside New Orleans.[21]

On 18 April Farragut ordered the mortar boats, under the command of Porter, to commence bombardment on the two forts, inflicting considerable damage, but not enough to compel the Confederates into surrender. After two days of heavy bombardment, Farragut ran past the Fort Jackson, Fort St. Philip, and the Chalmette batteries to take the city and port of New Orleans on April 29, a decisive event in the war.[22] Congress honored him by creating the rank of rear admiral on July 16, 1862, a rank never before used in the U.S. Navy. Before this time, the American Navy had resisted the rank of admiral, preferring the term "flag officer", to distinguish the rank from the traditions of the European navies. Later that year Farragut passed the batteries defending Vicksburg, Mississippi but had no success there. A makeshift Confederate ironclad forced his flotilla of 38 ships to withdraw in July 1862.

While an aggressive commander, Farragut was not always cooperative. At the Siege of Port Hudson the plan was that Farragut's flotilla would pass by the guns of the Confederate stronghold with the help of a diversionary land attack by the Army of the Gulf, commanded by General Nathaniel Banks, to commence at 8:00 am on March 15, 1863. Farragut unilaterally decided to move the timetable up to 9:00 pm on March 14, and initiated his run past the guns before Union ground forces were in position. By doing so, the uncoordinated attack allowed the Confederates to concentrate on Farragut's flotilla and inflict heavy damage on his warships.

Farragut on board the Hartford

Farragut's battle group was forced to retreat with only two ships able to pass the heavy cannon of the Confederate bastion. After surviving the gauntlet, Farragut played no further part in the battle for Port Hudson, and General Banks was left to continue the siege without the advantage of naval support. The Union Army made two major attacks on the fort, and both were repulsed with heavy losses. Farragut's flotilla was splintered, yet was able to blockade the mouth of the Red River with the two remaining warships; he could not efficiently patrol the section of the Mississippi between Port Hudson and Vicksburg. Farragut's decision proved costly to the Union Navy and the Union Army, which suffered its highest casualty rate of the Civil War at Port Hudson.

Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863, leaving Port Hudson as the last remaining Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. General Banks accepted the surrender of the Confederate garrison at Port Hudson on July 9, 1863, ending the longest siege in U.S. military history. Control of the Mississippi River was the centerpiece of Union strategy to win the war, and with the surrender of Port Hudson the Confederacy was now severed in two.

On August 5, 1864, Farragut won a great victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile was then the Confederacy's last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay was heavily mined (tethered naval mines were known as torpedoes at the time).[23] Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When the monitor USS Tecumseh struck a mine and sank, the others began to pull back.

Admiral David Farragut & General Gordon Granger

Farragut could see the ships pulling back from his high perch, where he was lashed to the rigging of his flagship, the USS Hartford. "What's the trouble?", he shouted through a trumpet from the flagship to the USS Brooklyn. "Torpedoes!" was shouted back. "Damn the torpedoes!" said Farragut, "Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!"[24][25] The bulk of the fleet succeeded in entering the bay. Farragut triumphed over the opposition of heavy batteries in Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines to defeat the squadron of Admiral Franklin Buchanan.

On December 21, 1864, Lincoln promoted Farragut to vice admiral.

After the war, he became a Companion of the First Class of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and served as the Commander of the Commandery of New York.

Farragut was promoted to admiral on July 25, 1866 becoming the first U.S. Navy officer to hold that rank.[2]

His last active service was in command of the European Squadron from 1867 to 1868, with the screw frigate USS Franklin as his flagship. Farragut remained on active duty for life, an honor accorded to only six other U.S. naval officers.[26]

Timeline of service[edit]

  • 17 December 1810, appointed midshipman.
  • 1812, assigned to the Essex.
  • 1815 – 1817, served in the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Independence and the Macedonian.
  • 1818, studied ashore for nine months at Tunis.
  • 1819, served as a lieutenant on the USS Shark.
  • 1823, placed in command of the USS Ferret.
  • 13 January 1825, promoted to lieutenant on the frigate Brandywine.
  • 1826 – 1838, served in subordinate capacities on various vessels.
  • 1838, placed in command of the sloop Erie.
  • 8 September 1841, promoted to the rank of commander.
  • Mexican-American War, commanded the sloop of war, Saratoga.
  • 1848 – 1853, duty at Norfolk, Navy Yard in Virginia as Assistant Inspector of Ordinance.
  • September 1852 – August 1853, assigned to superintend the testing of the endurance of naval gun batteries at Old Point Comfort at Fort Monroe in Virginia.[27]
  • 1853 – 1854, duty at Washington, D.C.
  • 14 September 1855, promoted to the rank of captain.
  • 1854 – 1858, duty establishing Mare Island Navy Yard at San Francisco Bay.
  • 1858 – 1859, commander of the sloop of war USS Brooklyn.
  • 1860 – 1861, stationed at Norfolk Navy Yard.
  • January 1862, commanded USS Hartford and the West Gulf blockading squadron of 17 vessels.
  • April 1862, took command of occupied New Orleans.
  • 16 July 1862, promoted to rear admiral.
  • 23 June 1862, wounded near Vicksburg, Mississippi.
  • May 1863, commanded USS Monongahela.
  • May 1863, commanded the USS Pensacola.
  • July 1863, commanded USS Tennessee.
  • 5 September 1864, offered command of the North Atlantic Blocking Squadron, but he declined.
  • 21 December 1864, promoted to vice admiral.
  • April 1865, pallbearer for the funeral of Abraham Lincoln.
  • 25 July 1866, promoted to admiral.
  • June 1867, commanded USS Franklin.
  • 1867 – 1868, commanded European Squadron.
  • 14 August 1870, died.
The monument of Admiral David Farragut in Woodlawn Cemetery

Death[edit]

Farragut died from a heart attack at the age of sixty-nine in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, while on vacation in the late summer of 1870. He is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, a borough of New York City.[28] His gravesite is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Legacy[edit]

Memorialized on the 1891 $100 Treasury Note, and one of 53 people depicted on United States banknotes.
Issue of 1903
Navy Issue of 1937


Few naval officers in American history have been honored on a U.S. postage stamp, but David Farragut has been so honored more than once. The first postage stamp (at left) to honor Farragut was the 1-dollar black issue of 1903. The Navy Issue of 1937 includes (among five in a series) a 3-cent purple stamp which depicts Admirals David Farragut (left) and David Porter, with a warship under sail displayed at center. The most recent postage issue honoring Farragut was released from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on June 29, 1995.[29][30]

Only one of his descendants went on to pursue a naval career. His great,great,great,great nephew Brett Hinch, an Australian, served in the Royal Australian Navy 1985-1995 and held the rank of Commander.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Farragut, 1879 p.3
  2. ^ a b c Hickman, 2010, p.216
  3. ^ Stein, 2005 p.5
  4. ^ Spears, 1905 p.328
  5. ^ a b c Schouler, 1899 p.170
  6. ^ a b "Admiral David Farragut". Son of the South. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Houston, Blaine, Mellette, 1916 p.438
  8. ^ Schneller, Robert J., Farragut: America's First Admiral p.19
  9. ^ Hearn, Chester G. (1998). Admiral David Glasgow Farragut: The Civil War Years. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. pp. xxi+385. ISBN 1-55750-384-2. 
  10. ^ Spears, 1905 p.11
  11. ^ Mahan, 1892 pp.27-28
  12. ^ Barnes, 1909 pp.36-38
  13. ^ Kennedy Hickman, "Admiral David G. Farragut: Hero of the Union Navy"; About.com, Retrieved March 28, 2007
  14. ^ Spears, 1905 pp.74-80
  15. ^ Spears, 1905 pp.123, 126
  16. ^ Mahan, 1892 pp.63-64
  17. ^ Spears, 1905 pp.32-33
  18. ^ Spears, 1905 p.143.
  19. ^ Farragut, 1879 pp.168-169.
  20. ^ a b John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-8071-0834-0, p. 56
  21. ^ #Schouler1899Schouler, 1899 pp.171-172
  22. ^ Rhodes, 1917 pp.119-120
  23. ^ ""DAMN THE TORPEDOES!" "Full speed ahead!"" (PDF), Vicksburg, Vicksburg National Military Park, retrieved 2012-01-30 
  24. ^ Spears, 1905 p.359
  25. ^ Farragut, 1879 pp.416–17
  26. ^ The others were his foster brother David Dixon Porter, George Dewey, William Leahy, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz, and William Halsey.
  27. ^ Farragut, Commander D.L.. Report from the Naval Testing Battery at Old Point Comfort Va, a journal book filed with the Bureau of Ordnance & Hydrography on August 31, 1853.
  28. ^ Shorto, 1991 p.306
  29. ^ Smithsonian National Postal Museum
  30. ^ Scott's U.S. Stamp Catalogue
  31. ^ Admiral Farragut Academy website
  32. ^ Neely, Jack. Knoxville's Secret History, page 17. Scruffy City Publishing, 1995.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Some sources place the age at eleven.[5]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Adelson, Bruce (2001). David Farragut:Union Admiral.
    Infobase Publishing. p. 80. ISBN 0791064174.
      Url
  • —— (1909). Midshipman Farragut.
    D. Appleton and Company, New York. p. 151.
      Url
  • Farragut, Loyall (1879). The life of David Glasgow Farragut, first admiral of the United States navy: embodying his journal and letters.
    D. Appleton and Company, New York. p. 586.
      Url
  • Houston, Florence Amelia Wilson; Blaine, Laura Anna Cowan; Mellette, Ella Dunn (1916).
    Maxwell History and Genealogy: Including the Allied Families of
    .
    Press of C.E. Pauley, Indianapolis Engraving Company. p. 642.
      Url
  • Rhodes, James Ford (1917). History of the Civil War. MacMillian & Co., New York, Boston, London. p. 467.  E'Book
  • Schouler, James (1899). History of the Civil War: being vol. VI of History of the United States of America, under the constitution, 1861-1865. Dodd, Meade & Co., New York. p. 699.  E'Book
  • Shorto, Russell (1991). David Farragut and the Great Naval Blockade.
    Silver Burdett Press. p. 128. ISBN 0382240502.
      Url
  • Spears, John Randolph (1905). David G. Farragut.
    G.W. Jacobs, Philadelphia. p. 407.
      Url
  • Stein, R. Conrad (2005). David Farragut: first admiral of the U.S. Navy.
    Chelsea House Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 1592963838.
      Url

Further reading[edit]

  • Anderson, Bern (1989, 7th printing). By Sea And By River.
    Da Capo Press, USA. p. 342. ISBN 0-306-80367-4.
      Url
  • Hearn, Chester G. (1995) The Capture of New Orleans 1862
    Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pp. 292 ISBN = 0-8071-1945-8, Url
  • Nash, Howard Pervear (1972). A naval history of the Civil War
    A. S. Barnes, p. 375, ISBN 9780498078415, Url
  • Tenney, W. J. (1867). The Military and Naval History of the Rebellion in the United States:.
    D. Appleton, New York. p. 843.
      Url

External links[edit]