“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

“Damn the torpedoes. Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead. Jouett, full speed”, commanded David Glasgow Farragut on April 24, 1862.  He shouted this now famous tweet during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay, and the condensed version of his words have become a fixture in American language to connote courage and decisiveness.  (“Drayton” and “Jouett” refer to two men under Farragut’s command.)  Farragut was a Hispanic American and son of a Spanish American Revolutionary War veteran.  Farragut won a great victory for the American Union at this naval battle. The city of Mobile, Alabama, was then the Confederacy’s last major port open on the Gulf of México.  Farragut was the first North American officer to earn the ranks of first rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral in the US Navy.

Union Officer Fernandez Cavada

Soaring through the air in a hot air balloon over the dangerous, flaming battlefield on April 19, 1862, Union officer Fernandez Cavada quickly and accurately sketched the deployments of enemy Confederate troops on the Virginia peninsula.  Cavada was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, to a Cuban father and North American mother.  After her husband’s death, Cavada’s mother moved her three sons to her native city of Philadelphia.  Cavada did not lead a ho-hum life.  In addition to his courageous service documenting enemy positions for the Union Army, he fought and was captured at Gettysburg, served as an engineer for the construction of the Panama Canal, and fought in Cuba’s Ten Year war of independence against Spain, rising to Commander-in-Chief of Cuban forces.  He was captured and shot by firing squad.

Néstor Montoya, Editor and Politician

April 14, 1862 is the birthday of editor and politician Néstor Montoya in Old Albuquerque, New Mexico.   Montoya worked tirelessly for the inclusion of Hispanics in the political and social life of New Mexico. In 1889, he founded the weekly Spanish-language newspaper, “La Voz del Pueblo”, which advocated statehood for New Mexico.  In 1910 Montoya was elected as a delegate to the New Mexico Constitutional Convention, and two years later New Mexico became a state.  Montoya helped write provisions into the Constitution of New Mexico to protect the rights of Hispanics in the areas of civil liberties, voting and education.  He died in office in 1923.