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Saturday, March 17, 2012

David Farragut and the Great Naval Blockade (The History of the Civil War Series)by Russell Shorto

David Farragut in 1858
Solid history for grade 5 and above.


Published in 1991 by Silver Burdett Press
119 pages of text. 9 pages of timelines, sources and and index at the end.

This book is part of a larger series (The History of the Civil War Series). It is very readable with a good balance of national history versus the biography of David Farragut.

Farragut joined the United States Navy at age 9 in 1810, fought against the Barbary Pirates and in the War of 1812. Until the Civil War, Farragut was known as an great officer, the kind of officer that sailors were glad to work under, but also the kind of officer that just missed doing something great. He was not sent to "open" Japan with Matthew Perry. He tried to get involved in the Mexican War but the fighting in Veracruz was over by the time his ship arrived.

When the Civil War began, it was assumed that Farragut would go with the Confederacy. After all, he was born in Tennessee, he lived in Norfolk, Virginia and his wife was also a Southerner. But, Farragut was a U.S. Navy man so he moved to New York and soon found himself in charge of the blockade of the Gulf states (from Texas to Florida).

Farragut's ships took New Orleans and Mobile, Alabama. Both conquests involved a great deal of clever strategy and a lot of nerve. While his ships were going through a mine field (called torpedoes in Civil War times), his men were scared and stopped moving forward into Mobile Bay. Farragut yelled out, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" and on they went to victory.

Due to health issues, Farragut headed home to New York. He became the first person in American history to become a vice-admiral and in 1866 he became the first admiral. Farragut died in 1870. The date of his funeral was a national holiday and 10,000 soldiers and sailors marched in the funeral procession, led by President Grant.

This book is a solid introduction to the role of the Navy in the Civil War as well as being an great little biography of Farragut. The maps are simple and the maps of the Battles of New Orleans and Mobile Bay are excellent. Lots of pictures help to tell the story.

I rate this biography 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on March 17, 2012.

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