Farragut, David Glasgow (1801–1870), a United States naval officer. Farragut, a naval hero of the Civil War, was the first to attain the rank of admiral in the U.S. Navy. He was a brilliant strategist who carried out carefully planned operations with great boldness. His campaigns on the Mississippi helped open that river for the Union, and his victory at Mobile Bay sealed one of the Confederacy's main ports.
Farragut was born in Campbell's Station, Tennessee, the son of a naval officer. When only nine, he entered the Navy as a midshipman under the sponsorship of his guardian, Commander David Porter. At age 12, during the War of 1812, he was put in command of a captured ship. In 1823 Farragut helped put down piracy in the West Indies. He saw little service during the Mexican War. In 1854 he was sent to California to establish the Mare Island Navy Yard.
When the Civil War began in 1861, Farragut held the rank of captain, the highest rank in the U.S. Navy. In 1862 he was given command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, and ordered to capture New Orleans. A preliminary bombardment of the forts defending the city did little damage. In darkness on April 24, Farragut, aboard his flagship, the Hartford, ran his ships through heavy gunfire from the forts. He destroyed the Confederate flotilla, took New Orleans without resistance, and forced the forts to surrender.
Farragut proceeded up the Mississippi and ran past the formidable guns at Vicksburg to link up with a Union flotilla that had fought its way down from the north. On July 30, 1862, he was commissioned rear admiral, a rank Congress created for him. In 1863 he took part in the attack on Port Hudson on the Mississippi.
In 1864 Farragut was ordered to capture Mobile Bay. The entrance was defended by two forts, and the channel was obstructed by "torpedoes" (what today would be called mines). Again Farragut ran his ships boldly past the forts. One ship was sunk by a mine, but Farragut continued, reportedly crying out, "Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!" Farragut's move was successful and the forts surrendered. In December, 1864, Congress created the rank of vice admiral for him; in 1866, that of admiral.