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David Farragut

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Admiral David Glasgow Farragut

David Glasgow Farragut (July 5, 1801August 14, 1870) was a naval officer during the American Civil War. He was both the first Vice-Admiral and full Admiral of the United States Navy.

Farragut was born at Campbell's Station, near Knoxville, Tennessee, to George and Elizabeth Farragut. At the time, his father was serving as a cavalry officer in the Tennessee militia. Born on the Spanish island of Minorca, George Farragut (1755-1817) had been a British merchant captain who joined the American Revolutionary cause.

David Farragut entered the Navy as a midshipman on 17 December 1810. When only 12 years old, he was given command of a prize ship taken by USS Essex, and brought her safely to port. Through the years that followed, in one assignment after another he showed the high ability and devotion to duty which was to allow him to make a great contribution to the Union victory in the Civil War and to write a famous page in the history of the United States Navy.

In command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, with his flag in USS Hartford, in April 1862 he ran past Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip and the Chalmette, Louisiana batteries to take the great city and port of New Orleans, Louisiana on April 29 that year, (a decisive event in the war). Later that year passed the batteries defending Vicksburg, Mississippi. Port Hudson fell to him July 9, 1863.

On August 5 1864 he won a great victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile, Alabama at the time was 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). Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When one ship struck a mine the others began to pull back, but Farragut shouted the order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The bulk of the fleet succeded in entering the bay, and the heroic quote became famous.

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A statue of Farragut, crafted in 1881 from the propeller of his flagship, stands in Farragut Square in downtown Washington, D.C.. The National Park Service interpretive plaque in the foreground prominently quotes his most famous line. Click to enlarge

Farragut then triumphed over the opposition of heavy batteries in Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines to defeat the squadron of Admiral Franklin Buchanan.

His country honored its great sailor by creating for him the rank of rear admiral on July 16, 1862, a rank never before used in the US Navy.

Admiral Farragut's last active service was in command of the European Squadron, with the screw frigate Franklin as his flagship, and he died at the age of 69 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

His hometown of Campbell's Station was renamed Farragut, Tennessee in his honor, and the local high school, Farragut High School, is known as "The Admirals." Numerous destroyers have since been named USS Farragut in his honor, and he has been depicted on US postage stamps twice; first on the $1 stamp of 1903, and then on a 32c stamp in 1995. There is also a state park in Idaho named after him. During World War II it was used as a naval base for basic training.

External links

nl:David G. Farragut

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