David G. Farragut is one of the few genuine naval heroes to come out of the Civil War. He is probably best remembered for a statement he made during the Battle of Mobile Bay: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”
Farragut was born in Tennessee in 1801 and was taken in as a foster child by Commodore David Porter, a respected naval hero. Farragut fought in the War of 1812 and was a prisoner of the British for a time.
When the Civil War broke out, Farragut's duties were light at first, but in January 1862 he was appointed commander of the squadron ordered to break down the naval defenses guarding New Orleans and take the city. It was a formidable task; the river approach to New Orleans was guarded by two forts and numerous Confederate gunships. But Farragut was confident the city could be captured, and he succeeded. He also played an important role at Vicksburg and most famously at the Battle of Mobile Bay.