In the middle of downtown DC sits a park named for Admiral David Farragut. Two metro stations bear his name, and the square that surrounds the park and his monument is home to many a lunching downtown worker. The statue that stands at the center of the square, of a sailor with spyglass, atop a platform with four mortars. I walked through that square once a day for over a year, each day tipping my hat to the Admiral who shouted, “Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!”
But actually, the full of the quote, at least as it’s attributed by Wikipedia, was: “Damn the torpedoes! Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed!” And so they went, into Mobile Bay to capture the last free port in the South in 1864. They overcame the massive barrage from Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, and defeated the Confederate Navy.
So stands Admiral Farragut, hero of the Union Navy in the middle of Washington. President Lincoln called him the best wartime appointment he ever made. The statue itself is bronze, and made from the propeller of the his ship, the Hartford. In addition, the mortars at his feet were cast from the originals about the Hartford.
Commissioned in 1872 by an act of Congress, the statue was erected in 1881, and dedicated by President James A. Garfield. The statue itself cost $20,000 and was cast by Lavinia Ream, whose other work includes the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Capitol Rotunda.
Monumental is a bi-weekly feature covering the various monuments and decorations of Washington DC. If you’d like to suggest a monument for exploration, please email tom at welovedc dot com.