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Damn the torpedoes!!

Back in 1864, during the Civil War, U.S. Navy Admiral David Farragut was leading a Union fleet of ships into Mobile Bay off the coast of Alabama.  The Confederate Army had placed tethered mines in the bay.  They were called torpedoes back then.  One of the first advancing ships ran into a torpedo and started to sink.  The other ships started to turn back.

Admiral Farragut wanted to know why the ships were retreating and was told there were torpedoes in the bay.  He immediately ordered them forward with the now famous command “Damn the torpedoes!  Full speed ahead!”

The rest of the fleet sailed into the bay with their keels scraping the torpedoes, but none exploded.  They captured Fort Morgan which cut off supplies to the Confederates and thus helped the Union win the war.

Damn the torpedoes!   Gutsy?  Yeah.     Reckless?  Definitely!     Effective?  It was on that August day in 1864.

Luckily, the torpedoes that we deal with on a daily basis are not going to destroy us, unless we live in fear of them and they kill off our ambition, our sense of adventure and our willingness to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations.  And you will never succeed unless you are willing to have that “damn the torpedoes” attitude in pursuing your dreams, because there are going to be lots of torpedoes.   The torpedoes are the obstacles, the rejections, the dead ends and the set backs that we all have to overcome.

As rhinos, we have two-inch-thick skin.  The torpedoes bounce off.  Occasionally, one will knock you over, but you get right back up again and keep charging.  Damn the torpedoes!!  Every time you get hit, your skin gets a little bit thicker.   After some years, your skin gets so thick, you look for torpedoes to scratch an itch.

Having thick skin and weighing 6,000 pounds gives us audacity.  Audacity is fearless daring.  You don’t heed any restraints.  You don’t listen to the cows around you with their tiresome warnings.  They are cows.   What have they accomplished?  If you let the cows influence you, they become the torpedoes and these dream killers can really sink your boat.

Hang with the rhinos!  That is the best way to maintain a “damn the torpedoes” attitude.  Have you been hit by a torpedo lately?   I salute you!  Now get back on your feet, get out there in the jungle and keep charging!!    Scott Alexander

Copyright 2010 by Scott Alexander

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05 2010

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  1. 1

    Visiting Savannah, GA recently, those torpedoes were no joke .. insidious weapons for sure.

    Rhinos do indeed get hit by all types of torpedoes. The difference though is getting back up and charging once again!

    Great revelation for me in this article .. loved the idea of being torpedo proof enough (thick skin from previous hits) to look for a torpedo just to scratch an itch!

    Being “bullet” proof and damning those torpedos – aw, this is what it means to be a RHINO 🙂

  2. 2


    Just like some people “make mountains out of molehills,” I’ve often made torpedoes out of bullets (worse yet, spitwads!).

    Much of the time, what I think is a crazy bigass torpedo is really insignificant nonsense that I’m making a big deal out of.

    Gotta deal with that one!

  3. Thomas #

    Scott-Very nice post. I love the Rhino books as well. I often find myself not even getting into the battle out of fear of being shot at-a real path to nowhere. I guess it’s time to dawn some thick skin.

  4. Robyn #

    Ever read “Wild at Heart” by Eldredge, Scott?

  5. scott #

    No, but I like the title!

  6. 6

    love the analogy made here so true !!! Need to have a solid belief to be a solid Rhino!!

  7. scott #

    Keep charging, Lisa!!

  8. 8

    Also… A great album by Tom Petty! Who coined the phrase and when? “Praise the LORD and pass the ammunition!”. Great post Scott! Loved the history lesson.

  9. scott #

    Howell Forgy, was aboard the USS New Orleans during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and is credited with the phrase. Of course, I had to google that!! Interesting. Keep charging, Drew!!

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