Chuck's History Lesson: The Battle of Mobile Bay

Chuck's History Lesson: The Battle of Mobile Bay

"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

Those who follow the U.S. Civil War know that the phrase above comes the Battle of Mobile Bay, an engagement that took place along the Alabama coast on August 5, 1864.

It was uttered by Rear Admiral David Farragut, a Southerner by birth, but a no nonsense officer in the Union Navy.

Farragut was given the task of attacking Mobile Bay, the last major port on the Gulf of Mexico still controlled by the Confederacy.

The bay was heavily mined (tethered naval mines were then called torpedoes), and when Farragut ordered his fleet to charge, one of his ships struck a mine, capsized and sank.

It forced the others to hesitate, leading the 63-year old to ask why his order wasn't being followed. When told it was the presence of mines, Farragut let loose with his immortal command, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

It's apparently what the fleet needed to hear because the ships made a mad dash for the coast and won the day.

The victory, along with the fall of Atlanta a month later, was covered heavily by Union newspapers and was a great boost for Abraham Lincoln's bid for reelection.

You can read more about the battle here.

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