David Dixon Porter was a Mexican-American War veteran and U.S. Navy officer who distinguished himself in a number of actions in the Civil War. The son of David Porter and adoptive brother of David G. Farragut, Porter followed his father into the Mexican Navy at the age of 13 then transferred to the U.S. Navy three years later.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Porter was assigned to transport men and materiel to the besieged Fort Pickens at Pensacola. He was then detailed to blockade duty. In March 1862, Porter commanded a mortar squadron which, acting in cooperation with a blue water fleet commanded by Farragut, fought its way past Forts Jackson and St. Philip at the mouth of the Mississippi, destroyed a Confederate fleet and captured the city of New Orleans.
Porter then assumed command of the Mississippi Squadron and in 1863 assisted in the capture of Arkansas Post and the siege and capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He narrowly avoided disaster in 1864 when one of his a gunboat squadrons was briefly stranded on the Red River and he finished the war as commander of the North Atlantic Squadron. Porter was appointed Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1865, and was promoted to Vice Admiral a year later. In 1870 he became the navy's senior officer when he was promoted to Admiral. Porter remained an influential figure in naval military affairs until his death in 1891.