Sailing with Farragut
The Civil War Recollections of Bartholomew Diggins
Sailing with Farragut, the latest book in the Voices of the Civil War series, shows readers the war through the recollections of Bartholomew Diggins, a young sailor who fought under U.S. Admiral David G. Farragut in the battles for control of the Mississippi River.
A recent Irish immigrant, Diggins joined the crew of the USS Hartford, Admiral Farragut’s flagship, at age seventeen and served for three years. Diggins’s memoir, one of a very few writtenby a sailor on either side, allows readers to experience a Northern seamen’s daily existence and the perilous battles he endured during the Civil War. Wounded during the first foiled approach to Vicksburg, Diggins, his side paralyzed by a guerrilla’s bullet from shore, richly describes the dangers and damage possible to a ship on the Mississippi. He recalls how action could suddenly shift from the mundane, like washing the decks, to a life-or-death skirmish with a hidden enemy as his ship passed rebel towns.
Additionally, Diggins describes how surreal war can be, writing of dark nights of smoke and fire using only the flash of the enemy’s guns to steer clear of the treacherous banks, of desperate crowds of slaves
clambering for safe passage, and of a fire raft 150 feet long, filled with burning pine knots, set on a course of destruction among the Union’s ships.
Each chapter features an introduction by editor George S. Burkhardt, who adds careful research and useful background information to the tales that follow. For historians of the Civil War, this book will deepen their understanding of brown-water warfare and put a face to the stories of victory and loss. From the bloody skirmishes around Vicksburg to Farragut’s disaster at Port Hudson and on to his victory at Mobile Bay, Sailing with Farragut gives readers a vivid view of life on the Mississippi during the Civil War and keen insight into the leader, officer, and man that was Admiral David Farragut.