Pilot for the USS HARTFORD at Battle of Mobile Bay


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AndyHall

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Freeman apparently caused an ugly kerfluffle in 1887, when he wrote a letter to another Navy veteran in Kingston, New York, that eventually was published in the New York Times. In it, Freeman denied that Admiral Farragut had been lashed to the shrouds during the battle. Farragut was long since gone, and the image of him having himself tied into the shrouds had already become something of sacred lore. Freeman, who was in the maintop of the ship just a few feet above Farragut during the action, was described as a "wretch who now desires to defame and belittle the renown of that event."

Sheesh.
 
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Mike Serpa

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David_Farragut_WWI_poster.jpg


Freeman apparently caused an ugly kerfluffle in 1887, when he wrote a letter to another Navy veteran in Kingston, New York, that eventually was published in the New York Times. In it, Freeman denied that Admiral Farragut had been lashed to the shrouds during the battle. Farragut was long since gone, and the image of him having himself tied into the shrouds had already become something of sacred lore. Freeman, who was in the maintop of the ship just a few feet above Farragut during the action, was described as a "wretch who now desires to defame and belittle the renown of that event."

Sheesh.
I'm ignorant of this event. Was Admiral Farragut lashed to the shrouds?
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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He was almost certainly in the shrouds, as he was wont to do in order to see above the smoke of battle-- there are reports of him doing this at New Orleans and elsewhere. Whether he was "lashed" there may be another matter.
 

AndyHall

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Almost all sources agree he went up into the shrouds, as Mark says, to better observe the fight. Some accounts have him going up into the main shrouds, just below the futtock shrouds (as shown in the later, Navy recruiting poster above).

Admiral-Farragut-Lashed-to-the-Rigging-at-the-Battle-of-Mobile-Bay.jpg


Freeman's account is that the Flag Captain, Percival Drayton, suggested that both Freeman and Farragut be lashed to the shrouds. Freeman objected, saying that was a dangerous way to go. Farragut replied that he wanted Freeman to remain close to him so that they could coordinate the maneuvers of the squadron. Freeman recalled that he (Freeman) then said (paraphrasing), "then follow me," and went himself up into the maintop. Farragut followed and, Freeman said, stopped several feet below that, but was close enough that they could converse freely over the din of the battle. Freeman said Farragut was not lashed to the shrouds, but other eyewitnesses said he was tied in by an enlisted sailor, and that Freeman's view of Farragut would have been blocked by the platform of the top. That's a fair criticism of Freeman, I think, but the vitriol he got for challenging what was already a legendary story is just silly and detracts from the dignity they wanted to protect.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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Another element to it was that the commander of the USS Metacomet, Commander James E. Jouett, was himself standing atop the paddlewheel box of his vessel, both for visibility and also to be able to communicate directly with Farragut. (That's the "Jouett, full speed!" part of the 'dam n the torpedoes' quote in my signature block; Farragut had to order both vessels to move as a unit since they were lashed together.)
 

John Hartwell

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He was almost certainly in the shrouds, as he was wont to do in order to see above the smoke of battle-- there are reports of him doing this at New Orleans and elsewhere. Whether he was "lashed" there may be another matter.
So he would have both hands free to use his field glasses, and signal with his arms, and not have to concentrate on holding on. Some sources say he was always uneasy going aloft, and had suffered much as a Midshipman, whenever he was ordered up. It took great courage and self control to overcome his fear of heights.
 

John Hartwell

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hm... Not necessarily differing with you, but I don't recall reading about that. What's your source for that?
One of the memoirs/autobiographies of one of the officers (later an admiral) who had served under him. Not Dewey, I believe, but another. I read several of these a couple of years ago. I'll try to find out which one.
 

AndyHall

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Mahan's biography of the Admiral:

While the monitors were taking their stations, the Tecumseh, which led their column, fired two shots at the fort. At five minutes before seven, the order of battle now being fully formed, the fleet went ahead. Ten minutes later Fort Morgan opened fire upon the Brooklyn, which at once replied with her bow guns, followed very soon by those of the
fighting column of wooden ships; a brisk cannonade ensuing between them, the monitors, and the fort. In order to see more clearly, and at the same time to have immediately by him the persons upon whom he most depended for governing the motions of the ship, Farragut had taken his position in the port main-rigging. Here he had near him Captain Jouett, standing on the wheel-house of the Metacomet, and also the pilot [Freeman], who, as at Port Hudson, had been stationed aloft, on this occasion in the maintop, so as to see well over the smoke. As this increased and rose higher, Farragut went up step by step until he was close under the maintop. Here, without losing touch with Jouett, he was very near the pilot, had the whole scene of battle spread out under his eyes, and at the same time, by bracing himself against the futtock shrouds, was able to use his spy-glass more freely. Captain Drayton, however, being alarmed lest he might be thrown to the deck, directed a seaman to carry a lashing aloft and secure him to the rigging, which the admiral, after a moment's remonstrance, permitted. By such a simple and natural train of causes was Farragut brought to and secured in a position which he, like any other commander-in-chief, had sought merely in order better to see the operations he had to direct ; but popular fancy was caught by the circumstance, and to his amusement he found that an admiral lashed to the rigging was invested with a significance equivalent to that of colors nailed to the mast." The illustrated papers are very amusing," he wrote home. " Leslie has me lashed up to the mast like a culprit, and says, 'It is the way officers will hereafter go into battle, etc.' You understand, I was only standing in the rigging with a rope that dear boy Watson had brought me up," (this was later in the action, when the admiral had shifted his position), "saying that if I would stand there I had better secure myself against falling; and I thanked him for his consideration, and took a turn around and over the shrouds and around my body for fear of being wounded, as shots were flying rather thickly."
 

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