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Page Title: David Farragut
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The   nation’s   scientists   and   inventors   contributed many  innovations  and,  by  war’s  end,  the  Navy  was technically the equal of any on the sea. The most famous naval battle of the war served as a  preview  of  things  to  come.  This  was  the  battle between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimac).   That   naval   conflict   probably   attracted more attention than any in our history. Fighting the first   action   of   its   kind   in   history,   the   ironclads conclusively  demonstrated  the  superiority  of  metal over wood. The battle of the ironclads contrasted with the easy victories of the Virginia over the unarmored ships Cumberland and Congress on the previous day. Leaders    in    both    the    Union    navy    and    the Confederate navy contributed to our naval traditions. From    these    valiant    leaders    we    learned    the importance   of   attention   to   detail,   a   progressive outlook, a sense of humor, and persistence in the face of adversity. DAVID G. FARRAGUT Among the outstanding naval leaders of the Civil War was David G. Farragut (1801-1870). Like  many others in the early days of the Navy, Farragut (fig. 2- 9)  entered  the  service  as  a  youngster.  He  was  a midshipman before he was 10 years old. By the time he  was  21,  he  was  experienced  at  shiphandling  and leadership. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Farragut, then  aged  60,  had  already  served  49  years  in  the Navy. At this time he was awaiting orders in Norfolk, where  he  and  his  wife  had  made  their  home  for almost  17  years.  Southern  friends,  urging  him  to espouse the Confederate cause, were left in no doubt as  to  his  sympathies  and  convictions.  “I  would  see every  man  of  you  damned  before  I  would  raise  my hand   against   the   flag.”   With   that   declaration   of allegiance, he hurried north to serve with the United States Navy.     Farragut’s   New   Orleans   campaign was  one  of  the  most  brilliant  of  the  war.  Where logistics    was    concerned,    Farragut    displayed    an impressive knowledge  of  the  art  of  moving  men  and supplies. He is credited with being the first American officer  who  fully  understood   the   strategic   deploy- ment of a fleet and coordinated the operations of his vessels accordingly. Farragut is best remembered for the incident that occurred at Mobile Bay while he was stationed on the Hartford.  During  the  critical  phase  of  battle,  mines (then    called    torpedoes)    were    reported    ahead. Farragut knew that the monitor Tecumseh, with 134.12 Figure 2-9.-The statement of David G. Farragut, tactician and strategist, that “the best defense is a well-directed fire from your own guns” became a Navy axiom. almost  all  hands,  had  just  gone  down  in  that  area. His  response,  would  echo  throughout  history  as  a slogan for  driving  leadership—“Damn  the  torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” As Farragut suspected, most of the enemy’s  underwater  weapons  had  deteriorated  from long submersion, so the fleet got through.   This engagement  shows  another  example  of   Farragut’s genius  for  planning.  He  had  spent  2  days  making sure  his  ships  were  prepared  for  the  run.  Heavy anchor  cables  were  fastened  alongside  the  wooden sides  to  serve  as  “chain  armor”  for  the  engines  and boilers.  The  ships  were  daubed  with  mud  (primitive camouflage), and water buckets were readied for fire fighting. As a tactician and  strategist,  Farragut  was unexcelled  by  any  of  his  peers.  His  statement,  “the best  protection  against  the  enemy’s  fire  is  a  well- directed fire from your own guns,” became a principle of naval  warfare.  However,  Farragut  gave  the  Navy much more than valiant slogans; 2-12

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