Andrew Hull Foote (The Gunboat Commodore)


Commanded a flotilla of Ironclads. Helped Grant take Forts Henry and Donelson. Young Andrew Foote was eager for the military life. After attending West Point for a short time, he joined the navy as a Midshipman in 1822 at the age of 16. While in the navy, Foote traveled the world including China, Africa, and the South Pacific. He saw action in each location including an anti-slavery patrol that had trouble with restrictive laws (American slavers intercepted by foreign ships had to be released. This required the US Navy to work closely with the British Navy.) When the American Civil War began he was in New York, on more mundane duty in charge of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In August 1861, at the outset of the Civil War, Foote was put in charge of naval defense on the upper Mississippi River. Quickly Foote was in action.

In August 1861, he was stationed on the upper Mississippi River. Foote was charged with naval defense which included the building and manning of ships, and leading them into action. Even though the fleet was improvised from whatever ships could be converted or built in a hurry, Foote was brilliantly effective in command. His first major operation was the February 1862 attack on Forts Henry and Donelson with U. S. Grant. The plan called for a coordinated attack with both the army and navy, but when Foote arrived at Fort Henry he found the Confederate defenses lacking and he decided to act. With the river in flood, Foote sailed straight into the fort and the Confederates surrendered. Grant moved forward to attack Fort Donelson, but he opened the attack too soon. Foote arrived late and when he finally arrived he went straight into action. During the battle he was wounded in the foot from splinters. While the Confederates repulsed Foote's attack, Fort Donelson eventually fell and Foote received much of the credit. His next action was the attack on Island Number 10 which held a commanding position in the middle of the Mississippi River. During the battle his old wound forced him to move to a shore position. In June 1862, Foote moved to Washington, promoted from commodore to rear admiral and given the Thanks of Congress. His new charge was chief of the Bureau of Equipment and Recruiting. A year later he wangled himself a sea-going appointment: the command the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. He died in June 1863 before he could take his position in the blockade off Charleston.

Birth Location: 
New Haven, Connecticut, US
Birth Date: 
Death Location: 
New York, New York, US
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