An American naval officer who led Union assaults against Mobile Bay and New Orleans in the Civil War, David G. Farragut became a midshipman at the age of nine. After the death of his parents, he was adopted by David Porter, under whom he served on the frigate Essex in the War of 1812. Between 1815 and 1861, Farragut moved between sea and shore duty. When the Civil War erupted, he was a senior officer with a long, but undistinguished career.
A resident of Norfolk, VA, he left for New York the day after Virginia seceded from the Union. After bypassing defending forts to capture New Orleans, Farragut used the same tactic against forts in Mobile Bay to attack and destroy Confederate warships defending Mobile. At a critical moment in the campaign, the captain of one of his ships hesitated out of fear of Confederate mines. Farragut responded with his famous line, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."
During the Civil War, David Dixon Porter commanded the Powhatan for relief of Fort Pickens. In March 1862 he joined his adopted brother, David Farragut, in blowing up Fort Jackson and Fort Saint Philip, enabling the Farragut fleet to take New Orleans. Porter also shelled Vicksburg. As a rear admiral, he commanded the Mississippi squadron, aided Sherman in the capture of the Arkansas Post, and cooperated with Gen. Grant in the siege of Vicksburg. Following the Civil War, Porter became superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy and made many improvements.