|This famed American naval officer, who led the Union assaults on New Orleans and Mobile Bay during the Civil War, was the first United States naval leader to be advanced to the rank of Admiral. He also was among the first truly American heroes of Hispanic descent. Admiral Farragut was born July 5, 1801 near Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of a Spanish father, George Farragut, and a North Carolinian mother, Elizabeth Shine. Young David Farragut went to sea at age 8, and earned an appointment as midshipman in the United States Navy at 9 . He first saw naval combat during the War of 1812 and also took his first command when he was made prize master of a captured British ship, the BARCLAY. He was 12 years old.
Admiral Farragut's place in naval history became assured in August 1864 at the Battle of Mobile Bay. Leading the attack on this Confederate resupply port, Farragut lashed himself to the maintop of his flagship, the HARTFORD, so that he could better direct the battle. Maneuvering his fleet of ships through a field of mines‹called "torpedoes" then‹he pressed the attack upon the defending forts, ordering "Damn the torpedoes! Four bells! Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!"
Beyond the drama of these words and the circumstances in which they were uttered, Farragut's victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay is more significant for its strategic impact on the course of the Civil War. By closing the South's last port open to world commerce, Farragut cut off the sources of war supplies that would otherwise have flowed unimpeded in the Confederacy's overland supply routes to battlegrounds. It became another classic case of control of the sea‹a lesson learned from ancient times to the present. Farragut, a man who once said that ``the best defense is well directed fire from your own guns,'' learned and taught the lesson well.
A grateful nation honored the hero of Mobile Bay with the rank of four-star admiral, and some even suggested he seek the nomination for President, an accolade he declined. Sculptor: Robert Summers.