David Glasgow Farragut

David Glasgow Farragut (făr´əgət), 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 in the War of 1812. Farragut commanded his first vessel in Porter's Mosquito Fleet, which operated (1823–24) against the pirates in Gulf and Caribbean waters. In the Mexican War he had minor commands on blockade duty. The navy yard at Mare Island, Calif., was established by Farragut in 1854, and he was commandant there till 1858. On Virginia's secession Farragut, a Union sympathizer, moved from Norfolk, where he had made his home ashore, to Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y. Yet his Southern connections placed him under suspicion, and he did not receive an important assignment until Jan., 1862. Then the Dept. of the Navy gave him command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, with orders to ascend the Mississippi River and reduce New Orleans. By Apr. 18, 1862, Farragut's fleet, consisting of 17 vessels and a mortar flotilla under David Dixon Porter, had reached forts Jackson and St. Philip, situated on opposite sides of the Mississippi just below New Orleans. When the mortars failed to reduce the forts, Farragut decided to try to get by them in the dark. This action was accomplished on Apr. 24, with the loss of only three vessels. The Confederate flotilla was then defeated in a hot engagement, and on Apr. 25, Farragut anchored at New Orleans. The forts surrendered on Apr. 28, and on May 1, Union troops under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler entered the city. Farragut's attempt to reduce Vicksburg in May–June, 1862, failed. But in Mar., 1863, he successfully ran two ships past the batteries at Port Hudson and by thus controlling the Mississippi between that point and Vicksburg contributed to Ulysses S. Grant's ultimate success in the Vicksburg campaign. Farragut had succeeded in stifling Confederate blockade-running in the Gulf of Mexico, except at its chief source, Mobile, and he moved on that port in 1864. Mobile Bay was strongly defended by forts Gaines and Morgan, a double row of torpedoes (mines), and a Confederate flotilla commanded by Franklin Buchanan. Farragut, disregarding the torpedoes (with the famous cry "Damn the torpedoes" ), forced these defenses and defeated Buchanan for his crowning victory on Aug. 5, 1864. The forts surrendered shortly afterward, and though the city itself did not fall until Apr., 1865, blockade-running was effectively ended there. Farragut was easily the outstanding naval commander of the war. He was the first officer in the U.S. navy to receive the ranks of vice admiral (1864) and admiral (1866).

See biographies by his son Loyall Farragut (1879), A. T. Mahan (1892, repr. 1970), C. L. Lewis (2 vol., 1941–43), and C. Martin (1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

David Glasgow Farragut: Selected full-text books and articles

FREE! Great Men and Famous Women: A Series of Pen and Pencil Sketches of the Lives of More Than 200 of the Most Prominent Personages in History By Charles F. Horne Selmar Hess, vol.2, 1894
Librarian's tip: "David Glascoe Farragut" begins on p. 379
Captains of the Civil War: A Chronicle of the Blue and the Gray By William Wood Glasgow, Brook, 1921
Librarian's tip: Discussion of David Glasgow Farragut begins on p. 94 and Chap. IX "Farragut and the Navy: 1863-4"
Mr. Lincoln's Navy By Richard S. West Jr Longmans Green, 1957
Librarian's tip: Chap. 12 "Farragut on the River"
FREE! Hero Tales from American History By Henry Lodge Cabot; Theodore Roosevelt Century Co., 1918
Librarian's tip: "Farragut at Mobile Bay" begins on p. 301
Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama By Gideon Welles; Albert Mordell Twayne Publishers, 1959
Librarian's tip: Discussion of David Glasgow Farragut begins on p. 114
FREE! History of the American Civil War By John William Draper Harper & Brothers Publishers, vol.2, 1868
Librarian's tip: Chap. II "The Fall of New Orleans and First Forcing of the Mississippi River by Farragut"
Ironclad Captain: Seth Ledyard Phelps & the U.S. Navy, 1841-1864 By Jay Slagle Kent State University Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Discussion of David Glasgow Farragut begins on p. 249
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