David Glasgow Farragut was born in Tennessee and lived in Virginia prior to the Civil War but was a patriotic American who considered secession treason and moved his family to Hastings-on-Hudson before the outbreak of . He become one of the Union’s greatest naval officers.
After two days of heavy bombardment, Farragut ran past forts Jackson and St. Philip and the Chalmette batteries to take the city and port of New Orleans on April 29, a decisive event in the war. Congress honored him by creating the rank of rear admiral on July 16, 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.
On August 5, 1864, Farragut won a great victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile, Alabama, was then the Confederacy’s last major open port on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay was heavily mined (tethered naval mines were then known as “torpedoes”).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 ship.
“What’s the trouble?”, he shouted through a trumpet to USS Brooklyn.
“Torpedoes”, was the shouted reply.
“Damn the torpedoes.”, said Farragut, “Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed.”
He died of a heart attack at the age of 69 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. A sculpture of Farragut was was dedicated in 1881, eleven years after his death, and is located in the northern end of Madison Square Park. It was created by Dublin-born artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose Diana is located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.