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Farragut, David Glasgow (1801-1870) [hat and epaulets in a tin box]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC08877 Author/Creator: Farragut, David Glasgow (1801-1870) Place Written: London, England Type: Object Date: circa 1867-1870 Pagination: 3 items

Summary of Content: Tin box was crafted specifically to hold the hat and epaulets. It is 20.5 cm high, 45.5 cm long, and 20.75 cm in width. Inside, the hat lays on its side while two folding platforms hold the epaulets for easy storage. Below the epaulets are two spaces to hold unknown items. Both spaces are now empty. The inside of the box is lined with a purple-colored felt and has a felt pocket on the inside lid. The box has a half-dozen labels pasted on its outside. The labels were for a man named G.M. Wheadon of the Royal Navy, who appears to have taken a round trip between Britain and China. One label states that Wheadon's box was supposed to arrive in Southhampton. The box lid has a clasp that is in working order and a handle on top. The lid also has what appears to be a maker's mark that says "Cleve Matthews & Seagrove Ltd" as well as an engraved name plate with no name (although the letters R.N. are inscribed on the plate -- a reference to the Royal Navy). Wheadon's relation to Farragut, if any, could not be ascertained. The hat is made of black felt and is in near perfect condition. It has a size of 44 cm in length and 16.5 cm high. The hat was made by the company F. Highatt in Gosport, Britain. Gold wiring, brass buttons, and ribbons also decorate the hat. A leaf-motif is found on some of the cloth bordering the edges. The band on the inside is made of leather. The two epaulets are 18 cm in length, 12.5 cm in length (both measurements taken from the top) and the dangling gold wires have a length of about 9 cm. The golden-colored, stripped cloth of the epaulets is backed by leather and each has a metal clasp to attach to the uniform. An anchor is pinned to each epaulet along with a brass button. Both were made by "Gieves Limited / By Special Appointment to His Majesty the King." Date of creation based on Farragut's command of the European Squadron. Provenance: Peter Costanzo Auctioneers, Admiral Farragut Academy-Naval Preparatory School, Pine Beach, NJ. The Academy operated for 60 years, and collected naval artifacts early on. This item was sold as Admiral Farragut's hat and epaulets.

Background Information: Farragut was born to Jorge and Elizabeth Farragut at Campbell's Station, near Knoxville, Tennessee, where his father was serving as a cavalry officer in the Tennessee militia. Jorge Farragut Mesquida (1755 – 1817), ...a Spanish–Catalan merchant captain from Minorca, had previously joined the American Revolutionary cause. David's birth name was James, but it was changed in 1812, following his adoption by future naval Captain David Porter in 1808 (which made him the foster brother of future Civil War Admiral David Dixon Porter). David Farragut entered the Navy as a midshipman on December 17, 1810. In the War of 1812, when only 12 years old, he was given command of a prize ship taken by USS Essex and brought her safely to port. He was wounded and captured during the cruise of the Essex by HMS Phoebe in Valparaiso Bay, Chile, on March 28, 1814, but was exchanged in April 1815. Through the years that followed, in one assignment after another, he showed the high ability and devotion to duty that would allow him to make a great contribution to the Union victory in the Civil War and to write a famous page in the history of the United States Navy. In command of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, with his flag in USS Hartford, in April 1862 he ran past Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip and the Chalmette, Louisiana, batteries to take the city and port of New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 29 that year, a decisive event in the war. His country honored its great sailor after New Orleans by creating for him the rank of rear admiral on July 16, 1862, a rank never before used in the U.S. Navy. (Before this time, the American Navy had resisted the rank of admiral, preferring the term "flag officer", to separate it from the traditions of the European navies.) Later that year he passed the batteries defending Vicksburg, Mississippi. Port Hudson fell to him July 9, 1863. On August 5, 1864, Farragut won a great victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile, Alabama, at the time was the Confederacy's last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay was heavily mined (tethered naval mines were known as torpedoes at the time). Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When the monitor USS Tecumseh struck a mine and sank the others began to pull back. According to legend, Farragut (who was lashed to the rigging of his flagship the USS Hartford) shouted down the order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The bulk of the fleet succeeded in entering the bay. Farragut then triumphed over the opposition of heavy batteries in Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines to defeat the squadron of Admiral Franklin Buchanan. He was promoted to vice admiral on December 21, 1864, and to full admiral on July 25, 1866, after the war. Admiral Farragut's last active service was in command of the European Squadron (1867-1868), with the screw frigate Franklin as his flagship, and he died at the age of 69 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.

It is uncertain if these items actually did belong to Farragut.


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People: Farragut, David Glasgow, 1801-1870

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: NavyMilitary UniformsMilitary HistoryGlobal History and CivicsForeign Affairs

Sub Era: Reconstruction

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