Damn the Torpedos

Posted by Bruce Kahl on April 12, 2003

In Reply to: Damn the Torpedos posted by S. on April 12, 2003

: Where does the expression "damn the torpedos" come from, and what exactly does it mean?

: Thanks in advance for any information.

It means to advance without hesitation.

The quote is from the American Civil War.

"Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!"

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870). Aboard Hartford, Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Alabama, 5 August 1864, in two columns, with armored monitors leading and a fleet of wooden ships following. When the lead monitor Tecumseh was demolished by a mine, the wooden ship Brooklyn stopped, and the line drifted in confusion toward Fort Morgan. As disaster seemed imminent, Farragut gave the orders embodied by these famous words. He swung his own ship clear and headed across the mines, which failed to explode. The fleet followed and anchored above the forts, which, now isolated, surrendered one by one. The torpedoes to which Farragut and his contemporaries referred would today be described as tethered mines.