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[184]

David Glasgow Farragut made a sudden leap into fame. Late in the year 1861, he was a member of a retiring-board created by the Navy Department under a new law in order to get rid of superannuated officers. From this position he was suddenly promoted to the command of a fleet, and in a little over three months his name was echoing not only through the country but round the world.

It was Commander David D. Porter, in charge of the steamer Powhatan in the Gulf Blockading Squadron, who conceived the idea of running by the powerful forts at the mouth of the Mississippi and capturing the city of New Orleans. His plan was approved by the Secretary of the Navy and the President, and strongly endorsed by Commodore, afterward Rear-Admiral, Joseph Smith. After a consultation in which Commander Porter had a voice, Captain Farragut was selected as the leader of the expedition, and it was Porter who brought to him the first notice of his appointment. This was before the official notification of the Navy Department, for in Farragut's private papers was found an abrupt and mysterious note, dated December 21, 1861, which concludes thus: “I am to have a flag in the Gulf, and the rest depends upon myself. Keep calm and silent. I shall sail in three weeks.”

The official notification, addressed to Farragut at Hastingson-Hudson, New York, where he was stopping with his family, informed him that he was appointed to the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, and that the Hartford had been designated as his flagship. Within a fortnight, he received from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles the following official orders, dated

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