Porter, David Dixon

Porter, David Dixon,

1813–91, American admiral, b. Chester, Pa.; son of David PorterPorter, David,
1780–1843, American naval officer, b. Boston. Appointed a midshipman in 1798, he served in the West Indies and in the war with Tripoli. In 1803 his ship, the Philadelphia,
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. He served under his father in the Mexican navy before he was appointed (1829) midshipman in the U.S. navy. He held his first command, the Spitfire, in the Mexican War. From 1850 to 1854, Porter, on leave, commanded passenger and mail ships. In the Civil War he led the mortar flotilla of the Union fleet commanded by David FarragutFarragut, David Glasgow
, 1801–70, American admiral, b. near Knoxville, Tenn. Appointed a midshipman in 1810, he first served on the frigate Essex, commanded by David Porter, his self-appointed guardian, and participated in that ship's famous cruise in the Pacific
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 in the successful assault on New Orleans (1862) and contributed to Ulysses S. Grant's success in the Vicksburg campaignVicksburg campaign,
in the American Civil War, the fighting (Nov., 1862–July, 1863) for control of the Mississippi River. The Union wanted such control in order to split the Confederacy and to restore free commerce to the politically important Northwest.
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 (1863). For these services on the Mississippi River he was made rear admiral. He cooperated (1864) with Gen. Nathaniel P. BanksBanks, Nathaniel Prentiss,
1816–94, American politician and Union general in the Civil War, b. Waltham, Mass. After serving in the Massachusetts legislature (1849–53), Banks entered Congress as a Democrat, was returned in 1855 as a Know-Nothing and became speaker of
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 in the Red River expedition and later was given command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In the joint land-sea expedition against Fort FisherFort Fisher,
Confederate earthwork fortification, built by Gen. William Whiting in 1862 to guard the port of Wilmington, N.C.; scene of one of the last large battles of the Civil War.
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 (1864–65), the naval forces were under his direction. Next to Farragut, Porter was the outstanding Union naval commander. As superintendent (1865–69) of the U.S. Naval Academy he proved himself an able organizer and administrator. Porter was promoted to vice admiral in 1866; in 1870, on Farragut's death, he became full admiral.


See biography by N. B. Gerson (1968).

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Porter, David Dixon

(1813–91) naval officer; born in Chester, Pa. He went to sea at age ten (1823) and served as a midshipman in the Mexican navy (1826–29) before he joined the U.S. Navy (1829). He served as a lieutenant in the Mexican War, and after a furlough (1849–55) he returned to active service and became a commander in the Union navy in 1861. He helped to plan a naval offensive against New Orleans and received the surrender of the Confederate forts there (1862). In command of the Mississippi Squadron (1862–64), he ferried Ulysses S. Grant's army across the Mississippi River, leading to the capture of Vicksburg (1863). He commanded the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron (1864–65) and launched troops to capture Confederate Fort Fisher in Wilmington, N.C. He was superintendent of the Naval Academy (1865–69) and adviser to the secretary of the navy (1869–70). He became a full admiral in 1870 and was the senior American naval officer until his death.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.