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First Name: David

Last Name: Farragut

Birthplace: Lowe's Ferry, TN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Glasgow

Date of Birth: 05 July 1801

Date of Death: 14 August 1870

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1810-70
David Glasgow Farragut

•  War of 1812
•  American Civil War (1861 - 1865)


David Glasgow Farragut
Admiral, U.S. Navy

David Glasgow Farragut was the youngest Midshipman ever commissioned in the U.S. Navy: He was nine years old. He was also the first Rear Admiral, Vice Admiral, and Admiral in the Navy. He is most remembered for his order at the Battle of Mobile Bay, usually paraphrased as: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" by U.S. Navy tradition.

David (born James) Glasgow Farragut was born on 5 July 1801 at Lowe's Ferry on the Holston River, located a few miles southeast of Campbell's Station, near Knoxville, TN. He was born to George (a native of Minorca Spain) and Elizabeth Shine Farragut (of North Carolina Scots-Irish descent).

George (born Jorge) Farragut operated the Lowe's Ferry and also served as a cavalry officer in the Tennessee Militia. George became a Spanish merchant captain from Minorca, son of Antoni Farragut and Joana Mesquida. He joined the American Revolutionary cause after arriving in America in 1766, when he changed his first name to George. The Farraguts moved west to Tennessee after George finished serving in the American Revolution.

David's birth name was James. After his mother's death, in 1808 he agreed to living with, and being adopted by, David Porter, a naval officer whose father had been friends with his father, George. 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.

War of 1812

Through the influence of his adoptive father, at the age of nine, David Farragut was commissioned a Midshipman in the U.S. Navy on 17 December 1810. A Prize (a boat captured from an enemy) Master by the age of 12, Farragut fought in the War of 1812, serving in Captain David Porter's frigate USS Essex. The young midshipman quelled a mutiny by telling an assailant that he'd be thrown over the side if there was any trouble. Farragut participated in capture of HMS Alert on 13 August 1812 and then helped to establish America's first naval base and colony in the Pacific, named Madisonville. At the same time, the Americans battled the hostile tribes on the islands with the help of their Te I'i allies. Farragut was wounded and captured while serving on the Essex during the engagement at Valparaiso Bay, Chile, against the British on 28 March 1814.

West Indies Anti-Piracy Operations

Farragut was promoted to Lieutenant in 1822 during the operations against West Indies pirates and became a Commander in 1844 and a Captain in 1855.

Marriage and Family

After appointment and an initial cruise as acting Lieutenant commanding USS Ferret, Farragut married Susan Caroline Marchant. After years of ill-health, Susan Farragut died on 27 December 1840. Farragut was noted for his kindly treatment of his wife during her illness. After the death of his first wife, Farragut married Virginia Loyall on 26 December 1843, with whom he had one surviving son, Loyall Farragut, born 12 October 1844.

Mare Island Naval Yard

In 1853, Secretary of the Navy James C. Dobbin selected Commander David G. Farragut to create Mare Island Naval Shipyard. In August 1854, Farragut was called to Washington from his post as Assistant Inspector of Ordnance at Norfolk, VA. President Franklin Pierce congratulated Farragut on his naval career and the task he was to undertake. On 16 September 1854, Commander Farragut commissioned the Mare Island Naval Yard at Vallejo, CA. Mare Island became the port for ship repair on the West Coast. Captain Farragut left command of Mare Island on 16 July 1858 and then returned to a hero's welcome at Mare Island, on 11 August 1859.

American Civil War

Though living in Norfolk, VA, 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 Southern-born wife to Hastings-on-Hudson, a small town just outside New York City.

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. Because he had friends and relatives living in Norfolk, he was relieved to learn the target was 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 accepted the major role of freeing New Orleans from Confederate control.

In April 1862, Farragut Commanded the West Gulf Blockading Squadron with his flagship, the USS Hartford. After a 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 29 April, a decisive event in the war. Congress honored him by creating the rank of Rear Admiral on 16 July 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. (An Ironclad is a steam-propelled warship protected by iron or steel armor plates.)

Farragut was an aggressive commander but he wasn't 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. The attack was to commence at 8:00 AM on 15 March 1863. Farragut unilaterally decided to move the timetable up to 9:00 PM on 14 March and he initiated his run past the guns before Union ground forces were in position. In doing so, the uncoordinated attack allowed the Confederates to concentrate on Farragut's flotilla and inflict heavy damage on his warships.

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 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 and, although it 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 4 July 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 9 July 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 5 August 1864, Farragut won a great victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile was then the Confederacy's last major open port 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 the monitor USS Tecumseh struck a mine and sank, the others began to pull back.

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!" 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 21 December 1864, President Lincoln promoted Farragut to Vice Admiral. After the war, he was promoted to Admiral on 25 July 1866. His last active service was 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.

Command and Rank History

1812, assigned to the Essex.

1815-17, 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 Shark.

1823, placed in command of the Ferret.

1825, served as a lieutenant on the Brandywine.

1826-38, served in subordinate capacities on various vessels.

1838, placed in command of the sloop Erie.

1841, attained the rank of commander.

* Mexican-American War, commanded the sloop of war, Saratoga.

1848-53, 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.

1853-54, duty at Washington, D.C.

1855, attained the rank of Captain.

1854-58, duty establishing Mare Island Navy Yard at San Francisco Bay.

1858-59, commander of the sloop of war Brooklyn.

American Civil War, Commander of the fleets

1860-61, 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.

1867-68, commanded European Squadron.


Numerous places and things are named in remembrance of Admiral Farragut:

Admiral Farragut Academy is a college preparatory school with Naval training founded in 1933 by Navy Admirals in Pine Beach, NJ. In 1945 the current and now only campus opened in St. Petersburg, FL. In 1946 it was designated by Congress as a Naval Honor School.

Farragut, TN, Admiral Farragut's hometown of Campbell's Station, TN, was renamed Farragut when it became incorporated in 1982. Admiral Farragut was actually born at Lowe's Ferry on the Holston (now Tennessee) River a few miles southeast of the town, but at that time Campbell's Station was the nearest settlement.

Farragut High School was built at Admiral Farragut's home town of Campbell's Station (now Farragut) in 1904. Today Farragut High School, boasting nearly 2,500 students, is one of the largest schools in Tennessee. The school's colors are blue and white, and its sporting teams are known as "The Admirals".

Farragut, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY.

Farragut Field is a sports field at the United States Naval Academy.

Farragut Career Academy in Chicago, IL, is a high school in the Chicago Public Schools system that was founded in 1894; its sporting teams are also known as the Admirals. The school displays an oil painting of the admiral, presented to the school by the Farragut Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1896. NBA star Kevin Garnett attended Farragut Career Academy.

Farragut, Iowa is a small farming town in southwestern Iowa. Admiral Farragut's famous slogan greets visitors from a billboard on the edge of town. The local school, Farragut Community High School, fields varsity "Admiral" and JV "Sailor" teams. The school also houses memorabilia from the ships that have borne the Farragut name.

Five US Navy destroyers have been named USS Farragut, including two class leaders.

In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS David G. Farragut was named in his honor.

Farragut Square, a park in Washington, DC; the square lends its name to two nearby Metro stations: Farragut North and Farragut West.

Two U.S. postage stamps: the $1 stamp of 1903 and a $0.32 stamp in 1995.

100-dollar Treasury notes, also called coin notes, of the Series 1890 and 1891, feature portraits of Farragut on the obverse. The 1890 Series note is called a $100 Watermelon Note by collectors, because the large zeroes on the reverse resemble the pattern on a watermelon.

A stained glass window in the United States Naval Academy Chapel depicts Farragut in the rigging of USS Hartford at Mobile Bay.

David Glasgow Farragut High School is the U.S. Department of Defense High School located on the Naval Station in Rota, Spain. Their sporting teams are also known as "The Admirals".

Farragut Parkway in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.

Farragut Middle School in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.

A grade school in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.

A grade school (PS 44) in the Bronx.

Farragut State Park in Idaho, which was used as a naval base for basic training during World War II.

A hotel in Minorca at Cala'n Forcat.

A bust in full Naval regalia on the top floor of the Tennessee State Capitol.

Admiral Farragut condominium on waterway in Coral Gables, FL.

Farragut elementary school in Vallejo CA, located just outside the Mare Island Gate.

A monument is located off Northshore Drive in Concord, TN. The monument reads "BIRTHPLACE OF ADMIRAL FARRAGUT/BORN JULY 5, 1801 . . . DEDICATED BY ADMIRAL DEWEY, MAY 15, 1900."

The David Farragut School is an elementary school in Boston, MA.

The Farragut House bar-restaurant located in South Boston, MA.

A larger than life statue near the beach in South Boston, MA.

U.S.S. Farragut from Star Trek The Original Series


Madison Square Park, New York City, by Augustus Saint Gaudens, 1881, replica in Cornish, NH, 1994

Farragut Square, Washington, DC, by Vinnie Ream, 1881

Marine Park, Boston, MA, by Henry Hudson Kitson, 1881

Hackley Park, Muskegon, MI, by Charles Niehaus, 1900

Contemporary Uses, Art and Literature

A "Commodore Farragut", who is clearly based on David Farragut, appears in Jules Verne's 1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

In the fictional television series Star Trek, a number of Starfleet starships are named Farragut.

The album Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is named after David Farragut's famous quote.

The album MDFMK by MDFMK contains a song entitled "Damn the Torpedoes".

In the comedy film Galaxy Quest, Tim Allen's character says "Never give up! Never surrender! Damn the resonance cannons! Full speed ahead!"

In her 2010 spoken-word debut Olivia Hedrick released a track "How I love thee Mister Farragut"

In the 1943 film The More the Merrier, Charles Coburn views the famous quote on a statue, and uses the phrase as a motto; it drives the plot forward.

In the video game The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, there is a Fort Farragut.

In the opening scene of Damages, Season 2, Episode 10, Ellen Parsons and Wes Krulik meet to talk on the left-side seating within the Admiral Farragut Memorial in Madison Square, Manhattan.

Death and Burial

David Glasgow Farragut died of a heart attack on 14 August 1870 in Portsmouth, NH, while on vacation. He was sixty-nine. Farragut is interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx borough of New York. His grave is located in Section 14, Aurora Hill Plot, Lot 1429-44.

Honoree ID: 510   Created by: MHOH




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