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David Farragut Letter

Identifier: MS-3179

  • Staff Only

A letter from David Farragut, signed "D. G. Farragut," to E. Caylus dated March 20, 1867. In it, Farragut expresses gratitude for receiving the Abraham Lincoln bronze medal for his achievements in Lincoln's administration.


  • 1867 March 20


The material in this collection is in English.

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The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


0.1 Linear Feet (1 folder)


A letter from David Farragut, signed "D. G. Farragut," to E. Caylus dated March 20, 1867. In it, Farragut expresses gratitude for receiving the Abraham Lincoln bronze medal for his achievements in Lincoln's administration.

Biographical/Historical Note

David G. Farragut was born in Tennessee, in the town that now bears his name, on July 5, 1801. His father, George, was an old seahand from the island of Minorca, one of the Balearic group, and brought Farragut up with a great appreciation of the United States Navy. In 1808, he was assigned to his first ship in New Orleans. Farragut's mother died of yellow fever in New Orleans that same year.

After meeting Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, Farragut was appointed a midshipman in the Navy on December 17, 1810. The first action he saw was aboard the Essex, serving under Captain David Porter, in the War of 1812 off the coast of Canada and New England. In the spring of 1819, he was appointed an acting Lieutenant at only 18 years of age. He received his first command aboard the Ferret in 1823.

In 1841 he was commissioned as Commander, in charge of the Delaware, his first ship-of-the-line. In 1854 he was assigned as the first naval commandant of Mare Island Shipyard near San Francisco. His job was to oversee the construction of the shipyard, the first Pacific shipyard of the U. S. Navy. In 1855 he was promoted to Captain, the highest grade in the Navy, and upon completion of the shipyard in 1858 he was assigned to his first steamer, the Brooklyn. This would also be the last single vessel he would command.

His Civil War record brought him from naval officer to American hero. His leading of the naval units in the taking of New Orleans, his passing of Port Hudson and his blockade of Mobile and the subsequent Battle of Mobile Bay made Farragut's name commonplace throughout the United States and Europe. Following the war Congress created the rank of Admiral, and bestowed it upon him in July 1866.

Unfortunately, his personal life was not quite as happy as his professional life. He married Miss Susan C. Marchant of Norfolk on September 24, 1823. She passed away on December 27, 1840, after Farragut had been by her side nursing her for almost two years. She had suffered from an illness, since shortly after they had gotten married, that caused her great pain at times.

On December 26, 1843, Commander Farragut married Virginia Loyall of Norfolk. Their family moved to California while Farragut was at Mare Island, living out of a boat for the first seven months, and then returned to Norfolk in 1858. After the secession of Virginia, Farragut found his Union leanings running counter to the majority of the Norfolk naval officers that he had been associating with and wisely moved to New York in 1860.

Farragut's only child, Loyall, entered the Naval Academy at West Point in 1863 and was there when Farragut received his Civil War fame. He would go on to a short naval career and later publish a biography of his father that would include long extractions from his journals.

After the war, Farragut received great honors from all over the United States and Europe. Entertained by Kings and Princes in Europe, and mayors and businessmen in the United States, he received $50,000 from the citizens of New York, his adopted home during the war, and other wondrous gifts. He also travelled to Spain to discover more about his heritage, spending most of the time in Barcelona and the Balearic Islands.

His health, however, failed him shortly after the end of the war. His weakened constitution from Yellow Fever in the 1830's and his travels after the war took their toll. Farragut passed away in January of 1870. After his passing, Congress approved $20,000 for a statue to be erected in his honor in Washington, and another was erected by the state of New York.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA