A Family of Heroes

Today in History, July 16, 1862:

In spite of naval heroes like Capt. John Paul Jones, the first Rear Admiral in the US Navy is commissioned on this date…Rear Admiral David Farragut.

What an amazingly important family! Farragut had been orphaned at the age of nine, when his mother died from yellow fever.

Navy Capt. David Porter took him in, and at the age of 9, Farragut was at sea as a midshipman. He served in the Pacific, commanded a captured ship at the age of 12…wounded at Val Paraiso, Chile in a battle…fought in the War of 1812 as a boy….fought pirates in the West Indies, and was the famous Captain who at Mobile Bay during the Civil War, while standing on the rigging of his ship, shouted, “Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!” His foster father, David Porter, foster brothers David Dixon Porter and William Porter would also be Naval war heroes.

The US Camel Corps – In New Mexico – The USS Supply – A Bizarre Adventure

Today in History, June 4, 1855:

US Army Major Henry C. Wayne sails aboard the USS Supply (commanded by US Navy Lt. David Dixon Porter) for the Middle East to purchase camels that would become part of the US Camel Corps. Either he or Gen. Edward Beale had convinced US Secretary of War Jefferson Davis that the animals would be perfect for transportation in the American Southwest.

70 camels would eventually be part of the Corps, and they WERE perfect for transporting supplies long distances…but they were also cranky and difficult to manage, and scared the Army’s horses. When the US Civil War began, the project was largely forgotten as the new Union Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, didn’t support it. Feral camels were seen roaming the Southwestern United States as late as 1941 as a result.

You may have noticed some other interesting names mentioned. David Dixon Porter was part of an already famous naval family…Farragut. David would serve with distinction in the Civil War.

The USS Supply. If her planks could have talked. The Mexican-American War….she was instrumental. Through her life she make numerous trips to the Levant…served in South Africa, South America, Brazil…she was part of two Expeditions Commodore Mathew C. Perry made to Japan, sailing into Odo Harbor on the Historic dates.

Then Supply returned and became part of the swashbuckling adventures during the Civil War Blockading Squadrons.

Confederate Big Easy Defenseless

Today in History, April 25, 1862:

Have you ever walked along the levee in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana? If you have, it’s difficult not to be awed when you look UP at the top of the levee and see a ship floating across the water…well above you.

The view makes it very obvious how incredibly vulnerable the city is to the Mighty Mississippi and the massive ships sailing her channel.

On this date in 1862 Union Admiral David Farragut had already led his fleet of US Navy ships past Ft. Jackson and Ft. St. Phillips below the Crescent City, he and his crews blew past nascent the Confederate “Navy” and placed their heavy guns off of New Orleans.

The New Orleans military, government and citizens were told…it was obvious…if they didn’t surrender, the US Navy would fire DOWN into the wooden structures of the Quarter….they may, if necessary, blast a hole in the levee and simply let nature flood out the defenders.

Confederate General Mansfield Lovell told Major Moore what would happen if resisted. So they stalled while Lovell shipped his troops and equipment north by rail to Vicksburg.

Finally on April 29 the residents folded. By May 2 the Confederates relinquished the largest, most industrial, cosmopolitan city in the Confederacy. Remember the rivers were the thoroughfares in the 1800’s.

The Union now had control of NOLA’S resources, and now the Union could ship supplies north from the Gulf as far as Vicksburg and north to south.

The War had seen a major change. And the citizens of New Orleans would find peace with General Butler worse than war with Farragut. But thats a different story.

Surrender at New Orleans

Today in History, April 29: 1862 – The surrender of New Orleans. The Confederacy was determined to protect the jewel of the South, it’s largest port and therefore source of supply from abroad. They were convinced the attack would come from the north, and placed the bulk of their army forces and naval forces in Tennessee and Mississippi. This left New Orleans to be defended by about 3,000 militia and two forts below her on the River, Ft. Jackson and Ft. St. Phillip. Union Flag Officer David Farragut took his force of Union ships and tried to silence the forts, and failing that decided to run past the batteries in a fierce battle. By the 28th his fleet lay off the city on the Mississippi. If you’ve ever been to the French Quarter and watched ships move by ABOVE you on the river, you’ll understand why the Confederate commander there told the mayor the battle was already lost and withdrew his forces. The next day, the 29th, Farragut’s childhood home surrendered to him. David Farragut was adopted by Capt. David Porter after his mother died, and began his naval career at age 9. He would become the first Rear Admiral, the first Vice Admiral, and the first Admiral in the US Navy. His adoptive brothers, David Dixon Porter and William Porter would also be naval heroes that attained flag rank. The capture of New Orleans by Union forces helped cut off the Confederacy from outside supply, and from their territories in the west.

Coincidentally, on this same date in 1629, 17-year-old Joan of Arc led a force that liberated Orleans, France from the English.