Creates the First Rear Admiral
and then the First Vice Admiral
of the Navy:
Though he was unsuccessful in early naval operations against Vicksburg, Farragut's success at New Orleans and Mobile Bay secured his place in history as one of America's most celebrated heroes.
The man who would become the first Admiral of the United States Navy was born James Glasgow Farragut near Knoxville, Tennessee on July 6, 1801. His father, Jorge Farragut, Jorge Farragut would serve his country gallantly in the revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Young James would soon follow in his father's footsteps. James later changed his name to David G. Farragut.
Fifty years later at the outbreak of the Civil War, David Farragut had a difficult decision to make. He was born in Tennessee, raised in Louisiana, and lived in Virginia, yet he felt more devoted to the country he had served for more than five decades. He decided to join the Union and moved his family north.
In January 1862, Farragut was named Flag Officer in command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron with instructions to enter the Mississippi and capture New Orleans. He was placed in command of eighteen wooden vessels including his flagship HARTFORD, a fleet of mortar boats, and 700 men. Farragut made the decision to run past Forts Jackson and St. Philip to take the city of New Orleans. To prepare the ships to run past the forts, the crews crisscrossed the hulls with great chains until they were almost as well protected as the ironclads. Further, since he planned to pass the forts at night, Farragut had the hulls covered with mud from the Mississippi to make them less visible from the shore and had the decks painted white so that needed objects would stand out clearly. He even had tall trees lashed to the masts of his vessels so that the enemy would think they were trees on the opposite bank! Farragut's strategy worked.
Two years later In 1864, Rear Admiral Farragut was summoned from his Now York home to serve his country once more in leading an attack on Mobile Bay, the last Confederate stronghold in the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile Bay was not only protected by Fort Morgan and a fleet of wooden vessels, but also by the formidable Confederate Ram TENNESSEE and a field of explosive mines called torpedoes. Undaunted, Farragut readied his fleet for battle. Using a strategy that had worked before, he ordered his wooden ships lashed together in pairs, one large and one small. In this manner, if the larger frigate was disabled in battle, the smaller vessel could tow it into safety. Farragut's fleet of wooden ships, along with four small ironclad monitors, began the attack on Mobile Bay early in the morning of August 5, 1864. When the smoke of battle became so thick that he couldn't see, Farragut climbed the rigging of the HARTFORD and lashed himself near the top of the mainsail to get a better view. It wasn't long before the TECUMSEH, one of the monitors leading the way, struck a torpedo and sank in a matter minutes. In a state of confusion, the fleet came to a halt in front of the powerful guns of Fort Morgan. Realizing the fleet was reluctant to move forward due to the "infernal machines," Rear Admiral Farragut rallied his men to victory, shouting:
"Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"
The Union fleet steamed ahead through the minefield, blasted Fort Morgan, and captured the Confederate ironclad TENNESSEE. Thus, Mobile Bay fell into Union hands in one of the most decisive naval victories of the Civil War.
The Battle of Mobile Bay would be Farragut's last. Overcome with fatigue he returned to New York in December 1864 a national hero. Farragut became the first person in the history of the United States Navy to be awarded the rank of Vice Admiral – the rank awarded by President Abraham Lincoln. Two years later he became the first Full Admiral.
Farragut’s appointments; as Captain, Commander, Rear Admiral (signed by Lincoln) , and Vice Admiral (Also signed by Lincoln) are all included here.
Vice Admiral (by President Abraham Lincoln):
Rear Admiral (by President Abraham Lincoln):
Commander (by President John Tyler):
Captain (by President Franklin Pierce):