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The warning message we sent the Russians was a calculated ambiguity that would be clearly understood.

-- Alexander Haig

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
1862: Union troops push 5,000 confederates out of Maysbille, Ark., at the Second Battle of Pea Ridge.

1863: Colonel Benjamin Griersons troops bring destruction to central Mississippi on a two-week raid along the entire length of the state

1864: Confederate General John Bell Hood pulls his battered army into Guntersville, Alabama, but finds the Tennessee River difficult to cross. Plotting another attack against the Yankees, he continues traveling westward with his defeated army.

1942: American Maj. Gen. Mark Clark meets in Algeria with French officials loyal to the Allied cause, as well as Resistance fighters, regarding the launch of Operation Torch, the first Allied amphibious landing of the war.

1951: U.N. and communist liaison officers signed an agreement to resume armistice talks. Both sides agreed to move the talks from Kaesong to Panmunjom and defined a neutral zone around the area.

1954: As a result of the Geneva accords granting Communist control over North Vietnam, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorizes a crash program to train the South Vietnamese Army.

1955: The prototype of the F-105 Thunder Chief makes its maiden flight.

1962: President John F. Kennedy announces that U.S. spy planes have discovered Soviet missile bases in Cuba.

1972: In Saigon, Henry Kissinger meets with South Vietnamese President Thieu to secure his approval of a proposed cease-fire that had been worked out at the secret peace talks with the North Vietnamese in Paris. Thieu rejected the proposed accord.