‘Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!’

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Sculpture and monument to David Farragut in Madison Square, New York City.

Sculpture and monument to David Farragut in Madison Square, New York City. (Photo credit: D C McJonathan)

American Minute from William J. Federer

“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” yelled Admiral David Farragut, who had lashed himself atop the mainsail to see above the smoke.

His fleet of wooden ships with hulls wrapped in chains, and his four iron clad monitors, were attacking Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864.

When one of his ships, the TECUMSEH, sank after hitting an underwater mine, called a torpedo, his fleet faltered in confusion, but Farragut drove them on to capture the last Confederate stronghold in the Gulf of Mexico.

Woodrow Wilcox


Earlier, APRIL 29, 1862, Farragut captured New Orleans, the Confederacy‘s largest city. Sailing the Mississippi River at night, his ships were hard to hit, as he tied tree branches to the riggings and covered the hulls with mud.

The first U.S. Navy Admiral, Farragut declined offers to run for President.



A statue of him is in Farragut Square, Washington, D.C.

Early in his naval career, 1817-1818, David Farragut served aboard the USS Washington, patrolling the Mediterranean Barbary Muslim Coast.

He spent nine months in Tunis as an aid to Navy chaplain and U.S. Consul, Charles Folsom, till a plague forced his departure.

His son, Loyall Farragut, wrote in a book titled The Life and Letters of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut:

“He never felt so near his Master as he did when in a storm, knowing that on his skill depended the safety of so many lives.”

During his last illness, David Farragut asked for a clergyman to pray to the Lord, saying:

“He must be my pilot now!”

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William J. Federer is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and president of Amerisearch, Inc, which is dedicated to researching our American heritage. The American Minute radio feature looks back at events in American history on the dates they occurred, is broadcast daily across the country and read by thousands on the internet.
William J. Federer

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