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David Farragut: The Boy Midshipman
by [?]

It was a day in late October, in the year 1812. Down the Delaware River, came slowly sailing the frigate Essex, which was one of a fleet being sent to cruise along the Atlantic coast for the protection of American vessels from their English enemies, for 1812 was the year when the war between England and America was declared, and for this reason.

England had for a long time been at war with France. Any vessel going to or from a French port was liable to be attacked by an English man-of-war, and the English government even claimed the right to search American vessels to see whether any English sailors were on board. And worse than that, many American sailors were accused, and falsely, of being English deserters and were taken from their own vessels and forced to serve on English ships. All attempts of America to adjust this matter peacefully were refused, and in 1812 America was obliged to declare war against Great Britain, and in consequence a squadron was fitted out to cruise along the Atlantic coast, to protect American vessels from the English.

The Essex was in command of Captain Porter, and as she was not ready to start when the rest of the fleet did, she sailed alone down the river through the quiet bay, and out into the ocean, and as she sailed, she bore little resemblance to our war vessels of to-day, so clumsily fashioned was she, being made of wood, with only one covered deck, and the open forecastle and quarter-deck above it, and had but two tiers of guns–the largest frigates carried sixty guns, besides a large pivot gun at the bow, and were noted for their speed, though in comparison to modern warships they were as a tortoise is to a hare.

Down the river sailed the Essex to join the sister-vessels of her fleet, with a pennant flying from her masthead, on which were the words, ” Free trade, and sailors’ rights,” for both of which, Captain Porter was ready to fight.

On the deck of the Essex as she swung slowly out to sea, stood Captain Porter, and by his side stood the proudest boy in all America that day, David Farragut, a little midshipman in a shining uniform which boasted more brass buttons than the years of its wearer’s life–for David was only ten years old, and this is how he came to be in such an important position on that October day.

Born on a farm near Knoxville, Tenn., on the fifth of July, in 1801, David Glascow Farragut had a rich inheritance of courage and energy, both from his mother and father–one being a Spaniard who had come to America during the Revolutionary war, through his desire to help the Colonists in their struggle for liberty, the other a brave, energetic young Scotch woman.

The little farm was miles away from any other dwelling place, and around it there was only a wilderness of forest trees, so that little David and his brother were not allowed to go out of sight of the house, because of the wild animals prowling through the woods and the Indians who often lurked near. One day while the father was away hunting, the Indians came and tried to force their way into the house, but brave Elizabeth Farragut was too quick for them, with fierce courage she guarded the entrance to the house–axe in hand–first sending the boys up to a loft under the roof, where they crouched in silence for hours, while the courageous mother kept the Indians at bay, and finally they tired of their fruitless attempt and went away.

When David was seven years old his father was appointed sailing master in the navy, and in consequence the family moved to the plantation on the bank of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, where the father’s headquarters were to be. As he was devoted to his children, he generally kept them with him when he was off duty, and many times took them out in his little sail boat on the lake in the fiercest kind of storms, storms so severe that sometimes they could not even get home, but would spend the night on an island, warmly wrapped in a heavy sail, or tucked up under a protecting coverlet of sand. When he was blamed for this, he always answered: