Farragut, David

Farragut, David (b. James) (Glasgow)

(1801–70) naval officer; born near Knoxville, Tenn. After being adopted by Commander David Porter, he became a midshipman at the age of nine. His naval career progressed slowly until 1861; he was chosen to command the West Gulf blockading squadron. He ran his ships past Confederate forts and captured New Orleans in 1862; the victory made him the outstanding leader of the Union navy. He blockaded the Gulf coast and contributed to the fall of Vicksburg (1863). In 1864 he led an assault on the Confederate port, Mobile Bay. Disregarding the loss of one ironclad ship to a mine, he is said to have cried out, "Damn the torpedoes—Full speed ahead!" and proceeded into the bay where he captured the Confederate flotilla. This famous victory brought his promotion to vice-admiral in 1864 and to admiral in 1866 (the rank was especially created for him).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.