‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!’ Those famous words were shouted by James Glasgow Farragut.
Born July 5, 1801, he would go down in history as the youngest person to ever enlist in the U.S. Navy at the age of ten. He was the son of George Farragut, a native of Minorca, Spain, who was left to care for the children when his wife died of yellow fever. After his mother’s death, he agreed to living with and being adopted in 1808 by David Porter, a naval officer whose father had been friends with his father. In honor of his adoptive father, David Porter, a naval officer with whom he went to sea in late 1810, James took on the name David.
By the age of 12, he was a prize master, and was even given the task to escort a captured ship to port. From there, he helped establish America’s first naval base and colony named Madisonville.
However, he didn’t stop there. On July 16, 1862, he was honored by the title rear admiral, a rank created by Congress and never before used in the Navy. After the Battle of Mobile Bay, a battle where one wrong turn would sink a ship, Lincoln promoted him to vice admiral on Dec. 21, 1864. When the Civil War ended, Farragut was promoted to admiral on July 25, 1866.
Even after the wars had been fought and won, Farragut remained on active duty for life status, an honor accorded to only six other U.S. naval officers. When he died, he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery where his gravesite is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.