A curious one! The origin of the phrase "Damn the Torpedoes" comes from the Battle of Mobile Bay in Alabama, August 5, 1864, during the Civil War, in which a Union fleet commanded by Admiral David Farragut, assisted by a contingent of soldiers, overtook Ft. Morgan, which guarded Mobile Bay, and attacked a smaller Confederate fleet led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan. Farragut's order of "Damn the torpedoes! Four bells. Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!" became famous in paraphrase, as "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"
Perhaps the wood for this carving itself came from Ft. Morgan, but who knows? It appears to be dated Feb 91, though it seems conceivable that the date refers to something other than when this was carved. It's rustically done, which is part of what I really like about it, giving a great sense of immediacy to it as a memorial of sorts, and an appropriate sense of urgency to the phrase it carries! The details of the uniform are consistent with Union naval uniforms during the Civil War, and I think it may be USN (or USU?) rather than USA that is carved into the cap, enhanced, like the text below, I believe with pencil. Pretty cool.
8" tall x 3 7/8" wide x 1 7/8" d. Very good, presumably antique condition, with a nice patina. It stands straight and sturdy on its own.