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No Pamphlet or Ticket
June 13th, 2009
This is a free attraction located in Farragut Square, at the intersections of Connecticut Avenue and 17th Street NW, in Washington DC.
Sculpted in 1881 by Vinnie Ream Hoxie (1847-1914) honors David G Farragut (1801-1870). Originally commissioned by his widow as a bust, it was the first memorial in Washington DC to ever be erected of a Civil War naval hero. It's base reads: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!". This expression is widely quoted today. That quote was made during the taking of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. The torpedoes were not the propelled version we know today... they were mines that lay below the surface of the water.
Farragut was the first admiral of the US Navy. He entered the navy at the age of 9, under the protection of his father who was a Major (Captain at that time) in the Navy. He studied many languages and was said to have spoken 5 languages fluently. After passing his exams, he was appointed to serve in the "mosquito fleet", which fought against piracy in the Caribbean. In 1825 he became a Lieutenant and served in Norfolk; in 1841 to Commander and in 1855 to Captain, where he was in charge of the Navy Yard in Mare Island, California before being appointed to the "Brooklyn", a Navy Frigate on which he served for 2 years. During the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, he offered his services to Washington DC in which he sat on the Naval Retiring Board; but he was quickly appointed to command the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron and was made "flag-officer". He executed his duties so well that all his crew and the public admired him and they gave him the nickname of "Old Salamander". Later he loss a monitor ship "Tecumseh" which was sunk by a torpedo, but he forced the passage into the bay and destroyed the enemy's ships including the "Tennessee" which bore Admiral Buchman's flag; and he took possessions of the forts. Because of this victory, the harbor ceased to have any political or strategical importance; which was a huge credit to Farragut's name. Farragut's service came to an end in 1864 and he was offered command of the force that was intended for reduction of Wilmington. Alas, his health and anxieties over the last few years compelled him to decline the position, and he returned to New York. The Government had just instituted the rank entitled "Vice-Admiral" and he was appointed to it and then later in 1866, to the rank of Admiral. In 1867, he flew his flag on "The Franklin" and it was a yacht for his disposal, without political or military importance, but used to extend international courtesies in Europe and to entertain. He returned in 1868 to America, where he retired. He died two years later in 1870 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
One interesting fact about this sculpture is that the bronze sculpture of Farragut was cast from the propeller of his ship, the USS Hartford.
Above: Statue of David G Farragut