March 2017

With the death of Admiral Farragut, which took place at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on Aug. 15, 1870, after a protracted illness, the country lost the officer who stood at the head of the Navy, not only in official rank but in universal estimation of merit based upon the severest tests most gloriously sustained.

David Glasco Farragut was born in East Tennessee (Campbell’s Station) on July 5, 1801, and was appointed a midshipman from that state in 1810, being only nine years old (yes, nine years old) at the time. He served under Captain David Porter during the war of 1812 in that brilliant cruise of the Essex. That is one of the proudest passages in the records of the American Navy. His own exploits many years after in the War of the Rebellion proved that he had not forgotten the lessons learned from his daring and skillful commander.

A long period of faithful and successful service, though without opportunity for startling achievements, succeeded the War of 1812, and when the Union expedition against New Orleans was organized, he was sent out in January 1862 as commander of the naval forces connected there, which soon grew into the Gulf Squadron.

Admiral Farragut in His Uniform (public domain)

In April of the same year, he passed Fort Jackson and St. Philip and drew up his squadron before the City of New Orleans, which lay at the mercy of his guns.

In May, he ascended as far as Vicksburg, passing formidable batteries and instituting in conjunction with Rear Admiral Davis, a bombardment, which proved unsuccessful for want mainly of a cooperating land force.

Farragut’s fleet was safely withdrawn to Pensacola and on July 11, he received the thanks of Congress and was, by the President, placed first upon the list of Rear Admirals.

In March 1868, he again ascended the Mississippi, passing the batteries of Port Hudson and cooperated with General Grant in the reduction of Vicksburg, which was accomplished in the early days of July.

The capture of the forts in Mobile Bay in August 1864, crowned a series of exploits, which for skill, daring and solid results, were unsurpassed in the history of Maritime warfare.

Admiral Farragut was advanced in July 1886, to the highest grade known in naval organization. His only considerable service since the war had been in a European cruise, which took on more the nature of a pleasure tour.

Farragut’s health, for a number of months prior, had been exceedingly uncertain and his recovery from a previous severe attack of illness at Chicago was a gratifying surprise to the country. He passed away at the age of 69.

The private character of the late Admiral was as admirable as his public services were glorious. He was remarkably studious of the moral welfare of the men under his command.

Note: The Battle of Campbell’s Station was a battle of the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War, occurring on November 16, 1863, at Campbell’s Station, (now Farragut), Knox County, Tennessee.

FarragutÆs grand funeral promoted the new Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, founded in 1863, and his monument set the early standard for the cemeteryÆs memorial architecture. In the decades that followed the admiralÆs death, the rural cemetery received a reputation as a graveyard of AmericaÆs northeastern elite and as a gallery for skilled stone carvers and architects.

Today, FarragutÆs gravesite on Aurora Hill in the Bronx of New York is the best-preserved property directly associated with the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and four-star admirals in United States history.

A One-Dollar Postage Stamp Honors Admiral Farragut

Admiral David Glasgow FarragutÆs historic grave site is in Lot Number 1429-44, Section 14, a large circle in the center of the Woodlawn CemeteryÆs larger Aurora Hill Plot, where Farragut and his immediate family are interred. Farragut was the first person to be buried in the cemeteryÆs Aurora Hill Plot. His wife, son, and daughter-in-law joined him there later.

The impressive Farragut Monument marks his gravesite. The monument is a tall, carved, marble pillar on a granite block, and was the work of New York City-based stone carvers, Casoni & Isola.

I would encourage my readers to pursue the life of this truly outstanding man.

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My passion is reading vintage history books about Northeast Tennessee and its surrounding areas. One treasured volume was written in 1913 by Margaret W. Morley of the Houghton Mifflin Company. Here is a sample of her prose:

“The Blue Ridge: What mountains ever offered themselves to the sun so enchanting as the long curve of the Appalachian chain where it passes through Virginia and North Carolina down to Alabama, running all the way full Southwest? This battlement of heaven was not named by accident.

It was named “blue” became there was no other name for it. It is blue; tremendously, thrillingly blue; tenderly, evasively blue. And the sky that contains it is also entrancingly blue; even the storms do not make it gloomy. When they pass by, the sun breaks out even more radiantly.

A Typical Quaint Mountaineer Home

“A mountain home is generally well-filled with children, and the grandmother, is vastly proud of her numerous descendants, although she sometimes has difficulty in remembering their full names, or even the number of them.

“There are names like John, Mary and Tom, but there are fancy ones like Mossy Bell, Luna Geneva, Vallerie May, Luranie Carriebel, Pearlamina Alethy Ivadee and a thousand others. Oftentimes, the poorer the family, the more fanciful the children's names, as though this being the only inheritance the parents wished to make as affluent as possible.

“The principle recreation of the country for the people is visiting. They travel long distances, and the smallest cabin is never too small to welcome home married sons and daughters who have come with their families to stay a while with “mammy” and “pappy.”

“In the villages, there are the ordinary amusements of young people: parties, dancing, picnics, box suppers, where girls fill boxes with fried chicken, bread, and cake, and the boys purchase them. And of course, there is music, the violin, better known as a fiddle, and guitar being the most popular instruments.

“Country music, (also referred to as old-time music, is often heard in the cool of the evening when the day's work is done and all sit about the blazing logs in the fireplace. How pleasantly comes back to memory one such scene. The only light comes from the fireplace, and dark shadows steal about the room as the fire flickers.

“In the glare of the burning logs sits a youth with his violin, rendering with zest the compositions of a local celebrity: “Sourwood Mountain,” “Cotton-eyed Joe,” “The Huckleberry Bush,” “The Blue-eyed Girl,” “Old Uncle Joe,” “Sally Gooden” and “A Pot Full of Pie and an Oven Full of Puddin'.”

TheFamous Grandfather Mountain Profile of the Old Man

“The musician plays them with enthusiasm, one after the other. As he plays, young Jim sits in front of him, knee to knee and “beats straws.” The youngster cannot keep time without this unique assistance, which is rendered by means of a piece of broom-straw held between the fingers of the right hand and struck against one string at the neck of the violin, while the musician plays “his stuff” in the normal fashion.

“Jim also manages to beat time with his feet without disturbing the rhythmical “tang, tang” of the straw or distracting the fiddler. “Beating straws” seems to be confined to a section on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge.

“After the fiddle solo concludes, Jim dances the 'stag dance,' first retiring to put on his shoes, for though he says he can dance better without them, the “splinters of civilization” have to be considered. A dirt floor is the original and proper foundation for the dance.

“Since the family gets up with the sun or earlier, all soon retire to rest. The visitors go in the parlor where stands the best bed. There is a carpet on the floor and a round table in the middle of the room, which holds the lamp and as ornaments, a dozen oyster shells. oodnight folks for tomorrow is another day.”

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