Porter, David D. (David Dixon), 1813-1891

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1813-06-08
Death 1891-02-13
English

Biographical notes:

U.S. naval officer.

From the description of Papers, 1847-1877. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 20077865

Admiral David Dixon Porter was born in Chester, PA, on June 8, 1813. He was instrumental in Farragut's capturing of New Orleans in 1862 when he set off 20,000 bombs to destroy the Confederate forts, Jackson and Saint Philip. This allowed Farragut to sail past the forts and up the Mississippi to New Orleans. He also was instrumental in the Battle of Vicksburg since he bombed the forts so that the fleet could pass. He went on to become the superintendent of the United States Naval Academy from 1865 to 1869. During his tenure at the Naval Academy, Porter accomplished much to improve it. He died in Washington, DC, on February 13, 1891.

From the description of Letter, June 27, 1887. (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 46343879

Rear-Admiral U.S.N. served in Mexican and Civil Wars.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Annapolis, Md., to D. Van Nostrand, 1865 Oct. 2. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618641

Rear Admiral David D. Porter enlisted in the Navy in 1826. He took part in the Mexican War and served with distinction in the Civil War, where he was in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in 1864.

From the description of Letter, March 3, 1865. (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 726747751

From the description of Letter, January 5, 1882. (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 17928368

From the description of Note, [n.d.] (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 740465742

From the description of Letter, June 27, 1877. (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 18168780

The fleet of U. S. Admiral David Dixon Porter participated in the Red River campaign during the Civil War.

From the description of David D. Porter letter, 1866 Apr. 6. (Louisiana State University). WorldCat record id: 730556621

Union Admiral; author of histories and romances.

From the description of Letter of David Dixon Porter to S.S. McClure, 1888 August 24. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 70214962

Admiral during the Civil War.

From the description of Letter : Chester, Pa., to Thomas Bruse, Philadelphia, Pa., 1832 May 7. (Bryn Mawr College). WorldCat record id: 25223853

American naval officer.

From the description of Signature on a check : Washington, D.C., 1879 Mar. 2. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618636

From the description of Telegram signed : Norfolk, addressed to the Provost Marshal at City Point, Va., 1864 Dec. 5. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618644

From the description of Telegram signed : Navy Department, addressed to J.G. Blaine, 1869 June 19. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618659

From the description of Telegram signed : U. S. Flag-Ship "Malvern," to J. G.Walker, 1865 Mar. 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618662

From the description of Letter signed : Cairo, Ill., 1863 Sept. 18. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618650

From the description of Letter signed : "Mississippi Squadron, Flag Ship Black Hawk, Red River, to C.S. Bemiss of Bayou Sara, La., 1864 Mar. 10. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618647

From the description of Telegram signed with line in his autograph : Hampton Roads, Va., addressed to Gideon Welles, 1864 Oct. 26. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618653

From the description of Signature on a medical report : Memphis, 1863 Sept. 15. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618656

From the description of Telegram signed : Hampton Roads, Va., addressed to Gideon Welles, 1864 Nov. 16. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270618638

Admiral in the Union army during the Civil War commanding the Mississippi Squadron.

From the description of Letter, Dec. 19, 1862. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 53882400

Naval officer.

From the description of David D. Porter family papers, 1799-1899. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70981194

David Dixon Porter, Union admiral. In October 1862 he was appointed acting rear admiral and given command of the Mississippi Squadron, where he was instrumental in keeping the river open to Union shipping and in assisting the army in the reduction of Vicksburg. In the spring of 1864 he was transferred to the North Atlantic Blockade Squadron where he served until the end of the war. After the war he served as superintendent of the U. S. Naval Academy.

From the description of Papers of David D. Porter, 1861-1870 (bulk 1862-1864). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122499729

David Dixon Porter, naval officer, was the son of David Porter, another naval officer, who was courtmartialed and resigned his commission. Dixon Porter served in the Mexican War and the Civil War. He was promoted to admiral in 1870. Prior to that, he was superintendent of the Naval Academy.

From the description of Letter, March 1, 1876. (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 18168916

From the description of Letter, December 3, 1873. (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 45608167

From the description of Letter, January 6, 1879. (Naval War College). WorldCat record id: 17997130

Biographical Notes

David Porter

  • 1780, Feb. 1: Born, Boston, Mass.
  • 1798: Appointed midshipman, United States Navy Duty, Constellation (frigate)
  • 1799: Duty, Experiment (schooner)
  • 1801: Duty, Enterprize (schooner)
  • 1803: Duty, Philadelphia (ship)
  • 1803 - 1805 : Prisoner of war, Tripoli
  • 1808: Married Evelina Anderson
  • 1808 - 1810 : Commandant, naval station, New Orleans, La.
  • 1811 - 1814 : Commanded Essex (frigate)
  • 1812: Promoted to captain
  • 1815: Published Journal of a Cruise Made to the Pacific Ocean (Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep. 2 vols. in 1)
  • 1815 - 1823 : Commissioner, United States Navy Board
  • 1823 - 1825 : Commander-in-chief, West Indian squadron
  • 1825: Published An Exposition of the Facts and Circumstances Which Justified the Expedition to Foxardo (Washington: Davis and Force. 107 pp.)
  • 1826: Resigned, United States Navy
  • 1826 - 1829 : Commander-in-chief, Mexican navy
  • 1830: Appointed consul general, Algiers, Algeria
  • 1831: Appointed chargé d'affaires, Turkey
  • 1835: Published Constantinople and Its Environs (New York: Harper and Brothers. 2 vols.)
  • 1839: United States United States Turkey Republic of Turkey Appointed United States minister, Turkey
  • 1843, Mar. 3: Died, Pera, Turkey

David D. Porter

  • 1813, June 8: Born, Chester, Pa.
  • 1827: Appointed midshipman, Mexican navy
  • 1829: Appointed midshipman, United States Navy
  • 1839: Married George Ann Patterson
  • 1842: Duty, Congress (frigate)
  • 1847: Duty, Spitfire (side-wheel steamer)
  • 1849: Commanded Panama (mail steamer)
  • 1850 - 1853 : Commanded Georgia (mail steamer)
  • 1855: Commanded Supply (storeship)
  • 1857 - 1860 : Duty, navy yard, Portsmouth, N.H.
  • 1861: Commanded Powhatan (side-wheel steamer)
  • 1863: Commanded Mississippi squadron Promoted to rear admiral
  • 1864: Commanded North Atlantic blockading squadron
  • 1865 - 1869 : Superintendent, United States Naval Academy,Annapolis, Md.
  • 1866: Promoted to vice admiral
  • 1866 - 1867 : Diplomatic mission, Santo Domingo
  • 1870: Promoted to admiral
  • 1875: Published Memoir of Commodore David Porter (Albany, N.Y.: J. Munsell. 427 pp.)
  • 1877 - 1891 : Chairman, United States Navy Board of Inspection and Survey
  • 1885: Published The Adventures of Harry Marline (New York: D. Appleton. 378 pp.) Published Allan Dare and Robert le Diable (New York: D. Appleton. 357 pp.) Published Incidents and Anecdotes of the Civil War (New York: D. Appleton. 357 pp.)
  • 1886: Published The Naval History of the Civil War (New York: Sherman Publishing Co. 843 pp.)
  • 1889: Published Arthur Merton (New York: D. Appleton. 328 pp.)
  • 1891, Feb. 13: Died, Washington, D.C.

From the guide to the David D. Porter Family Papers, 1799-1899, (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

David Dixon Porter was a United States naval officer. He assisted in blockade operations during the American Civil War, served as superintendent of the United States Naval Academy, and retired with the rank of Admiral.

David D. Porter was born on 8 June 1813 in Chester, Pennsylvania, a son of David and Evalina (Anderson) Porter. His father was an officer in the United State Navy who resigned in 1826 to take command of the Mexican Navy. His paternal grandfather was a Revolutionary naval officer.

Porter served under his father as a midshipman in the Mexican Navy and was captured by the Spanish in a naval engagement. He returned to the United States in 1829 and became a midshipman in the American navy. During his second cruise in the Mediterranean he met George Ann Patterson, the daughter of the commander of the ship on which he was serving and whom he would later marry.

From 1835, when he received his commission as a passed midshipman, to 1841, when he became a lieutenant, he served with the Coast Survey, making hydrographic studies along the Atlantic coast. After serving in the Mediterranean and off the coast of South America, he returned to Washington for additional surveying work. In 1846 he undertook a secret mission to evaluate conditions in the newly independent Republic of Santo Domingo prior to its recognition by the United States. The outbreak of the Mexican War prompted him to apply for an appointment in the action, but he was assigned instead to recruitment duty in New Orleans. He subsequently saw action at Tabasco, where he captured a fort with a small landing party, for which success he was rewarded with his first command.

At the war's end, after a few months at the Naval Observatory in Washington, he rejoined the Coast Survey. He resigned in 1849 and took command of the merchant steamer Panama on a voyage to the Pacific, and, after his return, commanded the privately owned mail steamer Georgia on runs to Havana. He was later employed in Australia, commanding the Golden Age between Sydney and Melbourne.

In 1855 he returned to the American navy and commanded the steamship Supply on two voyages to the Mediterranean. From 1857 to 1860 he was assigned to the Portsmouth (N.H.) navy yard. An offer from the Pacific Mail Steamship Company to serve as captain of the largest American passenger steamship, then about to be built, tempted Porter to leave his navy assignment, but in March 1861 he was assigned to command the Powhatan on a special mission to the besieged Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida, and he decided to remain with the navy.

For the next few months he engaged in blockade duty at Pensacola, as well as off Mobile and at the mouth of the Mississippi River. During this time he was promoted to commander. He was active in planning the attack on New Orleans and recommended David G. Farragut, his adopted brother, for command of the operation. Porter commanded the mortar fleet that attacked Forts St. Philip and Jackson, forcing the surrender of these forts that guarded the river approaches to the city. The capture of New Orleans opened the Mississippi River to the United States Navy, and Porter's mortar fleet assisted Farragut's ships when they steamed upriver past the Vicksburg batteries. In October 1862 he was appointed commander of the Mississippi Squadron with the rank of acting rear admiral.

In January 1863 he assisted in the capture of Arkansas Post, an action which made possible General Ulysses Grant's campaign against Vicksburg. In the subsequent campaign, Porter's ships aided Grant in his futile attempts to approach Vicksburg from the North and allowed his circumvention of the city and the eventual landing of the army to the South. With the surrender of Vicksburg, Porter gained for the Union army control of the Mississippi River. In recognition of his successes on the Mississippi, Porter was made a rear admiral.

In 1864 he participated in the abortive Red River expedition into northwestern Louisiana. He was then put in command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and was assigned to capture Fort Fisher, which guarded Wilmington, North Carolina, and protected the last open supply line by sea available to the Confederate armies. The surrender of the fort and the capture of Wilmington was accomplished in January 1865.

After the war, from 1865 to 1869, Porter served as superintendent of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and was instrumental in instituting changes in its curriculum and teaching methods. During 1866 and 1867 he undertook a mission to Santo Domingo for the purpose of securing the cession or lease of Samana Bay to the United States, but he was unsuccessful. In 1866 he was promoted to vice-admiral.

President Grant appointed him as an advisor to the Secretary of the Navy in 1869. By organizing boards of inspection for the fleet, beginning the repair of many vessels, and insisting that steam-powered ships also be equipped with sail, he demonstrated his effective control of the Navy Department. In 1870, after the death of Farragut, Porter was given the rank of admiral. From 1877 until his death he was head of the naval Board of Inspection, but he steadily lost power in the Navy Department. During this period he made annual reports to the Secretary of the Navy criticizing the state of the fleet and insisting on the construction of a new navy, but his counsel was seldom heeded. He died in Washington, DC, on 13 February 1891.

For a more detailed biographical sketch, see the article "David Dixon Porter" in Dictionary of American Biography . A recent full-length biography is Noel Gerson's Yankee Admiral (1968).

From the guide to the David D. Porter Papers, 1806-1890, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

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