Admiral David Farragut is remembered for famously shouting “Damn the torpedoes!” in the U.S. Civil War’s Battle of Mobile Bay. That was, by no means, the extent of his accomplishments. Anyone who knew him as a boy would have been able to spot the signs of greatness.
Farragut grew up in a naval family. His foster father was Commodore David Porter. His foster brothers included future Admiral David Dixon Porter and future Commodore William D. Porter, for whom the unluckiest ship in the navy would be named.
With some help from his foster father, Farragut’s naval career started early. At the age of 9, he was commissioned a midshipman in the U.S. Navy on December 17, 1810.
He saw combat during the War of 1812 while serving on the USS Essex. During this time, he was wounded and captured during a naval battle at Valparaiso Bay, Chile. When Essex captured a British vessel, Farragut was placed in command of the captured ship. He was 12 years old at the time but was given the responsibility to bring the vessel safely to port.
He rose steadily through the ranks. In 1862, Congress created the rank of rear admiral, and Farragut became the first American to be thus promoted. On July 25, 1866, he became the first person in the U.S. Navy to be promoted to the rank of full admiral.
Farragut served nearly 60 years in the U.S. Navy. He died from a heart attack at the age of 69, still on active duty.