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Porter, David Dixon

Porter, David Dixon (1813–1891), American admiral.Born in Chester, Pennsylvania, Porter was the son of David Porter, naval hero in the War of 1812. A midshipman in the U.S. Navy at sixteen, young Porter commanded his first ship at thirty‐three during the Mexican War. In the Civil War, he became one of the leading commanders in the Union Navy. In April 1862 during the Siege of New Orleans, he led a flotilla of twenty‐one small gunboats each with a 13‐inch heavy mortar, which bombarded the forts guarding the narrow channel, enabling Adm. David Farragut's fleet of warships to get upriver and successfully besiege the city itself. During the following year, Porter, in charge of the gunboats, ironclads, and supply ships on the Mississippi north of Vicksburg, aided Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman in their long and ultimately successful Siege of Vicksburg (1862–1863) and establishment of Union control of the entire Mississippi River. Promoted to rear admiral—after Farragut, the second in U.S. history to hold that rank—Porter assumed command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and the naval portion of two joint land‐sea expeditions in the winter of 1864–1865 against Fort Fisher, guarding the port of Wilmington, North Carolina. After Gen. Benjamin F. Butler failed in his assault, Gen. Alfred Terry succeeded with the support of Porter's sizable fleet, which bombarded the fort and sent 2,000 sailors and marines to join 8,000 soldiers in storming the parapets, achieving the only successful large‐scale amphibious attack against a strongly fortified position in the Civil War. After the war, Porter served as superintendent (1865–1869) of the U.S. Naval Academy. He was promoted to vice admiral (1866) and full admiral (1870) on the death of Farragut. The two officers, aggressive and successful in their coordinated efforts with the Union Army, were the leading Union naval commanders of the Civil War.

Bibliography

Richard S. West, Jr. , The Second Admiral: A Life of David Dixon Porter, 1813–1891, 1937;
Chester G. Hearn , Admiral David Dixon Porter: The Civil War Years, 1996.

John Whiteclay Chambers II

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Porter, David Dixon

David Dixon Porter, 1813–91, American admiral, b. Chester, Pa.; son of David Porter. He served under his father in the Mexican navy before he was appointed (1829) midshipman in the U.S. navy. He held his first command, the Spitfire, in the Mexican War. From 1850 to 1854, Porter, on leave, commanded passenger and mail ships. In the Civil War he led the mortar flotilla of the Union fleet commanded by David Farragut in the successful assault on New Orleans (1862) and contributed to Ulysses S. Grant's success in the Vicksburg campaign (1863). For these services on the Mississippi River he was made rear admiral. He cooperated (1864) with Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks in the Red River expedition and later was given command of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In the joint land-sea expedition against Fort Fisher (1864–65), the naval forces were under his direction. Next to Farragut, Porter was the outstanding Union naval commander. As superintendent (1865–69) of the U.S. Naval Academy he proved himself an able organizer and administrator. Porter was promoted to vice admiral in 1866; in 1870, on Farragut's death, he became full admiral.

See biography by N. B. Gerson (1968).

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