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The second volume of this authoritative biography of America’s first admiral examines the last ten years of David Glasgow Farragut’s life, which included the ever-fascinating period of the Civil War. Farragut was as carefully methodical in preparation for battle as he was fearlessly swift in the execution of his plans. In Our First Admiral, the reader will learn of gross inefficiency and waste in the conduct of war, in the North as well as the South; of jealous ambition and malicious criticism; of lukewarm support of the government, lack of cooperation between the Army and Navy, and the inroads upon morale made by war weariness and disease, all of which tried Farragut’s courage as much as the enemy in battle. Farragut was a practical resourceful leader with vision and intuition (a rare combination), a courageous hard-hitting fighter who hated war, and a deeply religious man with an exuberant spirit and love of fellowship who was also exceedingly loyal to the Navy and his country. Though he was small in physical stature, Farragut was tall indeed in the fundamental characteristics of true manhood.
In an 1882 speech, former Confederate president Jefferson Davis made an exuberant claim: "That battle at Sabine Pass was more remarkable than the battle at Thermopylae." Indeed, Sabine Pass was the site of one of the most decisive Civil War battles fought in Texas. But unlike the Spartans, who succumbed to overwhelming Persian forces at Thermopylae more than two thousand years before, the Confederate underdogs triumphed in a battle that over time has become steeped in hyperbole. Providing a meticulously researched, scholarly account of this remarkable victory, Sabine Pass at last separates the legends from the evidence. In arresting prose, Edward T. Cotham, Jr., recounts the momentous hours of September 8, 1863, during which a handful of Texans—almost all of Irish descent—under the leadership of Houston saloonkeeper Richard W. Dowling, prevented a Union military force of more than 5,000 men, 22 transport vessels, and 4 gunboats from occupying Sabine Pass, the starting place for a large invasion that would soon have given the Union control of Texas. Sabine Pass sheds new light on previously overlooked details, such as the design and construction of the fort (Fort Griffin) that Dowling and his men defended, and includes the battle report prepared by Dowling himself. The result is a portrait of a mythic event that is even more provocative when stripped of embellishment.