| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
DAVID GLASGOW FARRAGUT
 ONE day a man in a splendid uniform paid a visit to
David Farragut's father at his home near New Orleans.
He was Commander Porter of the United States Navy.
He asked that he be allowed to adopt one of the
motherless Farragut boys and train him for a career in the navy.
The chance was offered to eight-year-old David. David
wanted to go, and he said good-by to his father whom he
was never to see again.
Commander Porter returned to Washington, and
David went with him. There he met the Secretary of the
Navy, and was promised a Midshipman's warrant as soon
as he should be ten years old. The promise was not
Not long after he had passed this tenth birthday, his
foster father was given the command of the frigate Essex
and took the little midshipman into his service. During
the War of 1813 the Essex under Porter, with Midshipman
Farragut on board, started on a cruise around Cape Horn
to destroy the British whale-fishing in the Pacific. Having
captured several British vessels along the western coast
of South America, the Essex entered the harbor of
Valparaiso. Here she was overtaken by two British warships,
the Phoebe and the Cherub. According to the laws of
nations, ships belonging to countries at war with each
 other may not fight in a neutral harbor. So the English
vessels waited for the Essex just outside.
CAPTAIN PORTER BRINGING MIDSHIPMAN FARRAGUT TO THE "ESSEX".
During a great windstorm a cable of Porter's ship gave
way. She drifted out to sea, and the British began their
attack. The English guns could shoot much farther
than most of those on the Essex; so, staying out of reach
of the short-range
guns of the American ship, the Englisli poured one
broadside after another into the helpless frigate.
Captain Porter tried
every means in his
power to close with
the Phoebe, but owing to the disabled
condition of his
ship, he could do
little. After a fight
which lasted two
hours and a half,
the Essex was
forced to surrender.
found that whatever no one else
had time to do was
a midshipman's work during a fight. He had carried
messages for the Captain, brought powder for the gunners,
and had done his duty so well that when Captain Porter
sent home his dispatches to the United States, David
Farragut was one of those mentioned for bravery. He
 was twelve years old at this time and stood exceedingly
straight because, as he said, "I cannot afford to lose one
fraction of my scanty inches."
After the surrender of the Essex David, with the crew,
went aboard one of the British ships, where he was
included in an invitation to breakfast in the captain's cabin.
His grief at the loss of the Essex was so great that the
captain noticed it and said kindly, "Never mind, my little
fellow; it will be your turn next, perhaps." David replied
that he hoped so indeed and hurriedly left the cabin that
the men might not see how badly he felt.
Having made the officers and crew of the Essex
promise not to take up arms against England until they
had been exchanged, the British sent them hack to the
OFFICER IN THE NAVY
IT was not long before young Farragut was exchanged
and was again free to enter the service of his country.
For the next few years after the close of the War of 1812,
he was on several different ships sailing the Mediterranean
and fighting the pirates of the West Indies. Much of his
success in late life was due to the fact that during these
years he formed the habit of always doing his level
best, not thinking, as do many, that the present does not
In 1825, Farragut was promoted to the rank of lieutenant
on the Brandywine, a beautiful new ship. One
of his first duties was to carry General Lafayette back in
safety to his home in France. In the following years
Farragut had various duties to perform. In 1854, he was
sent to the Pacific coast, where a navy yard was to be built
on Mare Island near San Francisco. To plan and
con-  struct this yard was an important task, and Farragut was
just the man to do it well.
DAVID G. FARRAGUT.
Four years were given to the work, and then he
returned to the East. He was now a captain and was given
command of the Brooklyn,
one of the first steam warships in our navy. After
a two years' cruise on the
Brooklyn, Farragut left the
ship and went to Norfolk,
A few months later the
war between the North
and the South broke out,
and our captain had a new
query to settle. Farragnt
was born in the South;
his home at this time was
in Norfolk, and most of
his friends were Southerners. Now came the question,
Should he side with the South, his old home, or should he
follow the flag for which he had worked and fought for
Farragut and his Norfolk neighbors met daily and
discussed the great questions before the country. He
expressed his opinions fearlessly, but he soon saw that his
friends did not agree with him. One day one of them
said, "A person of your sentiments cannot live in Norfolk."
"Very well," he replied, "I will go where I can live
with such sentiments."
Going home Farragut told his wife that she, too, would
have to decide whether to stay with the South or to go
with him. Together they left Norfolk and went to a little
village on the Hudson River, called Hastings. The people
 here looked askance at them, however. The Government,
too, hesitated to trust a Southerner with a great
responsibility, in spite of the fact that he had shown his
loyalty again and again.
But the time was not far away when the North needed
just such a man as Farragut.
THE South held possession of New Orleans and the
mouth of the Mississippi, both of which the North wanted
to control; and in 1862 Farragut was ordered to go and
take them from the South. He was delighted with the
plan for capturing New Orleans, and was sure it could be
done. So with a large Union fleet he sailed for the mouth
of the Mississippi.
Once there, it took him two weeks to get the ships
across a bar formed at the mouth of the river by its mud
deposits. This was only the first obstacle that lay in the
path. Beyond the bar, the Confederates had stretched
across the river two great cables on hulks. Beyond the
cables were two forts, one on each side of the river; and
still beyond was a Confederate fleet.
Farragut's operations were begun by storming the two
forts for six days and nights, but with no success. Then
he decided to run his ships past the two forts and on to
New Orleans. This was easier said than done. First a
passageway for the ships must somehow be made through
the cables. To break these the brave commander of the
steamer Itasca ran her under the fire of both forts straight
up against the chain. It snapped. The hulks drifted
apart and made a breach large enough for the warships
to pass through. In preparing the fleet for the run past the
forts, hammocks, bags of sand, and ashes were piled around
 the boilers and engines to protect them from the shot of
the enemy's guns. Some of the ships were daubed on the
outside with Mississippi mud, so that they could not be
seen in the dark.
One night the signal was given to weigh anchor and
move up the river. In single file the vessels set out to run
the gantlet of fire, which was sure to greet them from
the forts. The Cayuga ran through the breach unharmed;
but, as the second boat passed the barrier, the guns of the
two forts blazed forth. The ships' broadsides answered,
and flying shells filled the air.
FARRAGUT'S SHIPS PASSING THE FORTS.
Down the river came a flaming fire ship straight for
the flagship Hartford. Farragut was helpless to get away.
The flames from the fire ship leaped up, and soon the
Hartford was ablaze. Men were detailed to fight the
flames while all the time the gunners loaded, fired, and
reloaded their guns. At length the flames were put out, and
the flagship once more started upstream.
On went the Union boats. They had passed the bar,
 the cables, and the forts. Ahead of them now lay the
Confederate fleet. Fiercely did Farragut's ships rush to
the attack, and in short order they overcame this last
obstacle to their advance.
When the people of New Orleans saw the Union fleet
coming, they became desperate. They sent rafts of burning
cotton bales downstream. They set fire to cotton-laden
ships, smashed hogsheads of molasses and sugar,
and destroyed property right and left to prevent it from
falling into the hands of the Union men. In the last
week of April, 1862, Captain Farragut sent men ashore
at New Orleans to haul down the Confederate flag from
the public buildings and to run up the stars and stripes
After the city was taken, the forts were soon captured,
and the North had control of the mouth of the Mississippi.
Captain Farragut's capture of New Orleans was the second
great naval success to cheer the North. Coming, as it
did, so soon after the repulse of the dreaded Merrimac by
Lieutenant Worden in his little ironclad Monitor, it put
new hope into every Northern soldier.
About two years later another great naval battle was
fought, this time on the other side of the ocean, near the
coast of France. During the war the Confederates had
fitted out ships which coasted about and harassed Northern
merchantmen. For a long time the Union warships could
not check these doings. One of these Southern warships
was the Alabama. At last the Kearsarge, commanded by
Captain Winslow, discovered the Alabama in a French
harbor. This was a neutral port, so the Kearsarge waited
for the Alabama outside, just as the English ships had
waited for the Essex at Valparaiso. The Confederate
vessel suddenly sailed forth and attacked the Kearsarge.
A terrific battle ensued; but the men of the Kearsarge
 were better marksmen, and after an hour's fight the
Alabama sank, and the victory was won.
THE LAST OF THE "ALABAMA".
Another Confederate war vessel was
the Albemarle—an enormous ironclad
ram. She, too, had attacked
Northern ships, and
determined to put a
stop to her marauding. So, one dark
night in October, he
took a boat and,
making his way to
the Albemarle, where
she layoff Plymouth,
North Carolina, exploded a torpedo under her. Then he jumped into the
water to escape capture and returned unharmed to the
Meanwhile Farragut was kept busy for over a year,
silencing batteries along the Mississippi. On July 4, 1863,
came Grant's victory at Vicksburg; and, satisfied at last
that he could do no more on the river, Farragut soon after
turned his command over to another officer, and with three
of his ships sailed for New York.
AFTER the fall of New Orleans the next fort on the Gulf
to be considered was Mobile Bay, and in 1864 Farragut
undertook to conquer this port. Two forts near the
entrance to the bay protected the city of Mobile, and these
had to be passed by Farragut's ships before they could
encounter the Confederate fleet which lay inside the bays
In this fleet was an ironclad ram—the Tennessee.
 The Confederates had made great preparations against
the attack. A triple line of torpedoes had been laid in the
channel, and the forts had been strengthened in every
Farragut had four ironclad monitors, besides twenty-one
wooden vessels. He ordered his wooden ships lashed
together in pairs, a larger with a smaller. Then, with
the stars and stripes floating from every peak and
masthead, early on the morning of August 5, 1864, the
entrance into Mobile Bay was begun. Farragut wanted to
lead the column in his flagship, the Hartford; but his
officers begged him not to do it. They felt that the
commanding officer ought not to be exposed to the
greatest danger. So, to please his men, Farragut gave
in, and the Hartford, with her running mate, took second
place in the column of wooden ships.
In order to see things more clearly, and to be able to
direct the movements of the fleet to better advantage,
Farragut climbed into the rigging; and, as the smoke of the
guns became more dense, he went higher and higher until
he was close under the maintop. Here he had a good
view of the whole field of battle, and, by bracing himself
against the shrouds, could use his spyglass.
The four ironclads were in single file, a little ahead of
the wooden vessels. The Tecumseh was leading the line.
Suddenly she ran into a torpedo; and Farragut, from the
rigging of the Hartford, saw her plunge below the water
and disappear. The Brooklyn, in the first rank of the
wooden ships just behind, began to back, and thereby
caused confusion in the line of ships in the rear.
This was the supreme moment of Farragut's life. To
go on meant the raking fire of the forts, the torpedoes,
the Confederate fleet, and possible victory. To turn back
meant a crushing and humiliating defeat.
 "Full speed ahead!" he shouted down. And passing
by the Brooklyn, the Hartford dashed straight at the line
of torpedoes. As the flagship passed over them, they
could be heard knocking against the bottom of the ship;
but none exploded. With the flagship safe beyond this
danger, the other ships followed; and the attack on the
Confederate fleet began.
One Confederate gunboat was destroyed by fire, one
was captured, and one ran away. Then, coming down
from the Hartford's rigging, Farnigut was just telling his
signal officer to order his fleet to drop anchor when a
shout arose. The ironclad Tennessee, which had
withdrawn from the battle and had been lying under the
protection of one of the forts, was boldly approaching to
fight the entire Northern fleet.
Farragut ordered each of his monitors to attack the
monster. The wooden vessels also were ordered to charge
the Tennessee at full speed. Down they rushed upon the
 ironclad, striking her with all their force, although their
bows were crushed by the blow. The monitors did their
part by keeping up a ceaseless fire until the Tennessee's
steering chains were shot away, her smokestack destroyed,
and her commander wounded. She had made a bold
fight and lost. To surrender was all that was left for her,
and she surrendered.
ONE OF FARRAGUT'S WOODEN SHIPS ATTACKNG THE CONFEDERATE IRONCLAD, "TENNESSEE".
Thus ended the battle of Mobile Bay. "One of the
hardest earned victories of my life, and the most desperate
battle I ever fought since the days of the old Essex," said
Soon after the surrender of the Tennessee, the forts
were captured, and the victory was complete.
Farragut's work in the Gulf was now done, and he sailed
for the North. Great was the reception given him when
the reached New York! The citizens formally invited
him to make his home among them and gave him fifty
thousand dollars to enable him to do so. And for his
faithful, loyal, continued service to his country, Congress,
at the close of the war, created a new and higher rank in
our navy and named David Glasgow Farragut the first
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