Sunday, March 23, 2014

Library of America Story of the Week Read-Along 219: David G. Farragut,The Capture of USS Essex (#219)

David G. Farragut, "The Capture of USS Essex" (1879) from The War of 1812: Writings from America’s War of Independence:

Today's Story of the Weej is another naval adventure (of sorts) from the War of 1812, David G. Farragut was only 12 years old at the time, a young midshipman on board the USS Essex under David Porter, Jr. (Farragut's adopted father and naval sponsor). Farragut later wrote his memoir for his family (according to the headnote) and they published it in 1879, giving all the world an early glimpse of torture porn.

No, that's a little unfair: I haven't read any of his memoir; and though this section is pretty graphic in terms of the violence, it doesn't sink to pure horror tittilation. There is some bleeding out and some shot off legs and such, but there's also a lot of patriotic death-bed speeches and people jumping to their death after being mortally wounded so as to help their fellow crewmembers.

I can't really recommend this as a piece of work--rhetoric or fiction--but as a source for historical research, it is pretty interesting. Assuming, of course, that Farragut's memoir hewed closely to the historical truth.

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