Damn the torpedoes! Farragut, Louisiana, and the Civil War

Given the strategic importance of the Mississippi River in the American Civil War, New Orleans was an obvious target for the Union navy. Here’s a good overview of the Civil War in Louisiana. New Orleans itself surrendered in 1862 to Union forces led by David Farragut, who later in the war coined the famous phrase “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” during a dramatic encounter in Mobile Bay:

Aboard Hartford, Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Alabama, 5 August 1864, in two columns, with armored monitors leading and a fleet of wooden ships following. When the lead monitor Tecumseh was demolished by a mine, the wooden ship Brooklyn stopped, and the line drifted in confusion toward Fort Morgan. As disaster seemed imminent, Farragut gave the orders embodied by these famous words. He swung his own ship clear and headed across the mines, which failed to explode. The fleet followed and anchored above the forts, which, now isolated, surrendered one by one. The torpedoes to which Farragut and his contemporaries referred would today be described as tethered mines. –quoted from the Naval Historical Center site

Here’s a more detailed account of New Orleans’ surrender to Farragut. Much later, Farragut’s name was used for a class of destroyers built in the 1930s, as well as several individual ships since then, and even a starship in a Star Trek episode.

Comments (1) to “Damn the torpedoes! Farragut, Louisiana, and the Civil War”

  1. Ironically, a fun source of Civil War history is Clive Cussler. His Sea Hunters books aren’t his usual fare of crazy (but kinda fun) stuff, but rather fairly detailed descriptions of the sinking of various ships (not just CW, but primarily), and then details the hunting for that ship. Good stuff.

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