Take Command, Captain Farragut!

Overview

At age ten, David Glasgow Farragut became the youngest midshipman ever assigned to a warship in the U. S. Navy. At roughly the same age as a fifth grader would be today, Farragut had his commission papers signed by President James Madison and then reported aboard the Essex to engage the British Navy in battle during the War of 1812. On board the Essex, led by Captain Porter, Farragut would not only have to learn much about life at sea, he would have to establish his authority ...
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Overview

At age ten, David Glasgow Farragut became the youngest midshipman ever assigned to a warship in the U. S. Navy. At roughly the same age as a fifth grader would be today, Farragut had his commission papers signed by President James Madison and then reported aboard the Essex to engage the British Navy in battle during the War of 1812. On board the Essex, led by Captain Porter, Farragut would not only have to learn much about life at sea, he would have to establish his authority over seamen twice his age. Was he up to the challenge?

Indeed he was, as the Essex first sailed the Atlantic and then traveled "around the Horn" to the Pacific where it surprised and took possession of British warships and whaling vessels alike. In fact, it was in taking command of one of those captured ships off of Valparaiso, Chile, that Farragut, then only twelve years old, was assigned his first position as full captain and was given the captain's sword he had coveted from the start.

In Take Command, Captain Farragut!, Peter and Connie Roop imagine a series of letters written by Farragut to his father while on a prison ship after the British eventually defeated and captured the Essex. The letters tell of Farragut's drive to excel despite his youth, and bring to life both his courage and confidence in facing challenges far beyond his years.

Chronicles Farragut's early naval career, from his commission as a midshipman through early exploits aboard his first ship, the Essex.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kids Who Made History A pair of books chronicle young people's impact on history. The first, Take Command, Captain Farragut! by Peter Roop and Connie Roop, illus. by Michael McCurdy, presents the true story of 10-year-old David Glasgow Farragut, who ascended the ranks from midshipman to captain (at age 12) aboard a U.S. naval ship during the War of 1812. His rise unfolds through a series of fictional letters to his father; framed scratchboard illustrations depict the child's days at sea and eventual imprisonment by the British. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
When his mother suddenly dies, David Glasgow Farragut is sent to be a midshipman on board the Essex with Captain Porter. At the age of ten, he is the youngest midshipman commissioned by the United States Navy aboard ship. Written as a series of letters to his father after being captured by the English, Farragut tells of his adventures, challenges, and accomplishments. From training to battles, he catalogues his adventures past and present. Each day brings a new adventure to keep readers on the edge of their seats and turning pages. Peter and Connie Roop brought together several pieces to develop a wonderfully exciting adventure. Accompanied by unique scratchboard drawings, this book even has the feel of a journal that may have been written at sea with only a quill and ink. A glossary of nautical terms is included along with a very informative author's note to complete the information needed to really understand Captain Farragut. 2000, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division,
— Christina Burbage
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5-David Glasgow Farragut had a successful naval career, distinguishing himself during the Civil War by capturing New Orleans, opening the Mississippi River for the Union, and winning the Battle of Mobile Bay. However, more than 50 years before the Civil War, at age nine and a half, he became the second youngest midshipman ever commissioned by the U.S. Navy. It is of this time that the Roops write in this well-researched title. Through a series of fictional letters (based on Farragut's own accounts) addressed to his father from a prison in Valparaiso, Chile, the boy relates his adventures aboard the Essex. They included crossing the equator, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, confiscating cargo ships, and battling British warships during the War of 1812 that resulted in his eventual brief imprisonment. The writing style, the vocabulary, the typeface, and the complementary scratchboard illustrations lend an air of authenticity to the volume. The correspondence is so convincing that the presentation pushes this title very close to the historical fiction shelf. The difference between this biography and the "My America" or "Dear America" series (Scholastic) is slim. For that reason, the book's use will probably be more for enjoyment than for reports. Reading about the adventures and exploits of this young man can help students relate to history.-Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
At age ten, David Glasgow Farragut became the youngest midshipman ever assigned to a warship in the United States Navy. In a series of fictionalized letters written to his father, Farragut relays the capture of his ship and three-week imprisonment pending parole. Beginning March 29, 1814, aboard a prison ship in Valparaiso, Chile, and ending April 20, 1814, on the 23rd day of captivity, the letters flash back to the time when Farragut's father sent him to serve Captain Porter following his mother's death. Porter is posted to the ship, Essex, which sets sail in the war against England. As one of the ship's 11 midshipmen, Farragut faced many obstacles because of his age and particularly because of his small size. The voice in the letters rings with determination and strength, shaping the character of the young man whose name would stand in history. The eight black-and-white scratchboard illustrations in McCurdy's signature technique are equally commanding, building the strength of the narrative with hewn details of ship life and creating still life images of the drama of the action. A glossary defines nautical terms and the authors' note cites the sources for their research that includes Farragut's own accounts of his life. An unusual presentation that could spark interest in this exceptional young man. (Historical fiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689830228
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.68 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter and Connie Roop have written more than fifty children's books together, and for twenty-five years both have been teachers in Appleton, Wisconsin. Connie teaches high school science and Peter teaches elementary school. In 1986 Peter was named Wisconsin State Teacher of the Year. When not teaching or writing, the Roops enjoy traveling and playing games with their children, Sterling and Heidi.
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Read an Excerpt

Prison Ship Valparaiso, Chile

Tuesday, March 29, 1814 -- Day One of Our Captivity

Dear Papa, I begin this letter not knowing if it will reach you. I often think of you, especially now, as I have much time on my hands. I am a prisoner of the English in Valparaiso. I was captured after a fierce battle on Valparaiso Bay.

I think, too, of Mama and miss her. For the year we were together Mrs. Porter loved me like her own son, but it was not the same. And then I went to sea.

I hope you read this letter with patience and understanding. I know I have been wayward in not writing you for more than two years, but you'll see much has happened to me in that time. In this letter I hope you will see that the boy you sent to be cared for by Captain Porter has grown into a man.

Now as a man I must suffer this imprisonment. We hope to be paroled soon. If so, we will be exchanged for British officers and returned to the United States. I do not look forward to the parole. Parole means I may not fight the English again until I am exchanged for a British midshipman. If we are not paroled, however, we will be shipped to England. There we will rot in another dreadful prison ship.

As with my other challenges, I must face this one with courage and determination.

I shall write daily to you long letters, just as a midshipman I wrote daily in my log. I will tell you my adventures to the best of my memory, beginning with my posting to the Esssex.

The Essex, having been shattered by cannon fire, is now in the hands of the English. Yet the day I first walked her decks, her black paint was fresh, her tall masts stood firm, her white sails were furled, her crew was eager to engagethe English enemy.

I was the last new midshipman to climb the Essex's rope ladder.

I will continue in my next entry, for I am tired after this harrowing day.

Good night, Papa.

Text copyright © 2002 by Peter Roop and Connie Roop

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