The first volume of Lewis' biography covers David Glasgow Farragut's long career in the navy before the Civil War. He was about sixty years old when that war began, and had accordingly lived through that long transitional period from sail to steam. As a lad he had served with Porter in the Essex on her glorious cruise which ended in bloody defeat at Valparaiso; he had repeatedly cruised in the Mediterranean; he hunted pirates in the Caribbean and had almost died of yellow fever; he had become familiar with the coast of Mexico and was present when the French bombarded the Castle of San Juan de Ulloa at Vera Cruz; he had often cruised into Buenos Aires, Montevideo, and Rio de Janeiro when revolution and anarchy threatened those cities; he had been on a man-of-war at Charleston when nullification threatened the union; he had participated in the Mexican War; he had established the Mare Island Navy Yard; and he commanded the steam sloop of war Brooklyn. Meanwhile he had slowly risen up the ladder of promotion from midshipman to captain, then the highest rank in the United States Navy.
The late Charles Lee Lewis, born in 1886, was a prominent naval historian and for many years a professor of English and History at the United States Naval Academy. He has written biographies of Matthew Fontaine Maury, Admiral Franklin Buchanan, Admiral De Grasse, and Commodore Stephen Decatur and two volumes of biographical sketches of famous sea fighters.