David Dixon Porter
The maritime adventures of David Dixon Porter (1813–1891) began at the age of ten when he sailed to the West Indies with his father, Commodore David Porter. Controversy surrounded David Dixon Porter at the beginning of the Civil War. Unbeknownst to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, Porter took command of the frigate U.S.S. Powhatan and sailed it to relieve Fort Pickens off the coast of Florida. With the firepower of the Powhatan unavailable, a simultaneous Union attempt to relieve Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor failed. Welles forgave Porter for this mishap, as he placed the primary blame for the planning of the Fort Pickens expedition on Secretary of State William H. Seward. Porter's subsequent operations in the war would have happier results. They included his command of a flotilla of mortar boats that were integral to the capture of New Orleans on April 29, 1862; his naval blockade of Vicksburg that aided General Ulysses S. Grant in the conquest of that city on July 4, 1863, and the capture of Fort Fisher in North Carolina on January 15, 1865, which proved to be the last major naval battle of the Civil War. Only the second man in the history of the United States Navy to earn the rank of Admiral (the first was Porter's foster brother David G. Farragut), Porter earned postwar distinction for his tenure as superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, between 1865 and 1869.