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Hope encourages men to endure and attempt everything; in depriving them of it, or in making it too distant, you deprive them of their very soul.

-- Maurice Comte de Saxe

Commodore William D. Porter, USN (1808-1864)

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William David Porter, son of Commodore David Porter and elder brother of Admiral David Dixon Porter, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on 10 March 1808. He entered the Navy as a Midshipman in January 1823 and attained the rank of Lieutenant at the end of 1833. He was retired in September 1855, but was later reinstated on active duty with the rank of Commander. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he was commanding the sloop of war USS Saint Mary's.

Late in 1861, Porter took command of the newly-converted gunboat New Era, serving in the Mississippi River area with the Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla. He renamed her Essex, after his father's old ship of the War of 1812. During late 1861 and early 1862, he had Essex further modified and took her into action on a number of occasions, distinguishing himself for his courageous conduct. After the gunboat was damaged in action with Fort Henry, Tennessee, in February 1862, Porter had the ship virtually rebuilt. He then commanded her in further combat undertakings, including the destruction of the Confederate ironclad Arkansas. A controversial figure in the Navy, Porter received the rank of Commodore in recognition of his achievements, but was detached from Essex in September 1862 and had no further assignments afloat. He died on 1 May 1864.

USS William D. Porter (DD-579), 1943-1945, was named in honor of Commodore Porter.

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This Day in History
1703: The French, at Hochstadt in the War of the Spanish Succession, suffer only 1,000 casualties to the 11,000 of their opponents, the Austrians of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I.

1864: In an attempt to cut the last rail line into Petersburg, Virginia, Union troops attack the Confederate defense around the besieged city. Although initially successful, the attack ground to a halt when Confederate reinforcements were rushed into place from other sections of the Petersburg line.



1864: Confederate troops fail to retake Fort Harrison from the Union forces during the siege of Petersburg.

1911: Italy declares war on Turkey over control of Tripoli.

1939: The French Army is called back into France from its invasion of Germany. The attack, code named Operation Saar, only penetrated five miles.

1943: The Womens Army Auxiliary Corps becomes the Womens Army Corps, a regular contingent of the U.S. Army with the same status as other army service corps.

1949: After 15 months and more than 250,000 flights, the Berlin Airlift officially comes to an end.

1950: U.N. forces cross the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea as they pursue the retreating North Korean Army.

1954: The first nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilus, is commissioned in Groton, Connecticut.

1954: NATO nations agree to arm and admit West Germany.