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Incidents of the occupation of New Orleans.

Albert Kautz, Captain, U. S. N.

The maintop of the “Hartford,” with howitzer.

At 1 o'clock P. M. of the 25th of April, 1862, Farragut's squadron, having completed its memorable passage of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and having silenced the Chalmette batteries, anchored in front of the city of New Orleans in a drenching rain.

Captain Theodorus Bailey, being second in command, claimed the privilege of carrying ashore the demand for the surrender of the city. This was accorded him by the flag-officer, and the captain, accompanied by Lieutenant George H. Perkins (now captain), at once proceeded to the City Hall. Mayor Monroe took the ground that as General Lovell had not yet left the city, the demand should be made on him. At the captain's request the mayor sent for the general, who in a few moments appeared with his staff. General Lovell said he would not surrender the city, adding that he had already withdrawn his soldiers, and that at the close of the interview he intended to join his command. Captain Bailey had to return and report to Farragut that there was no one on shore willing to surrender the city. Two or three gentlemen had accompanied Captain Bailey and. Lieutenant Perkins to the City Hall, and after the interview Colonel W. S. Lovell and one other of the general's staff escorted them to the landing.

The mob, overawed by the frowning batteries of the ships, really seemed dazed and did not offer to assault the Union officers. On the following morning, however, the people in the streets began to wonder whether anything more was going to be done, and became more violent and boisterous.

Farragut determined to make a formal demand for the surrender on Mayor Monroe, and at 10 o'clock on the morning of the 26th he sent me ashore, with instructions to deliver the official demand to the mayor. My little force on leaving the Hartford consisted of Midshipman John H. Read and a marine guard of twenty men under command of Second Lieutenant George Heisler. We landed on the levee in front of a howling mob, which thronged the river-front as far as the eye could reach. It was expected that I would take the marines with me to the City Hall, as a body-guard, and Farragut informed me that if a shot was fired at us by the mob, he would open fire from all the ships and level the town. The marines were drawn up in line, and I attempted to reason with the mob, but soon found this impossible. I then thought to clear — the way by bringing the marines to an aim, but women and children were shoved to the front, while the angry mob behind them shouted: “Shoot, you---- [92]

Captain Theodorus Bailey and Lieutenant George H. Perkins on their way to demand the surrender of New Orleans.

Yankees, shoot!” The provocation was certainly very great, and nothing but the utter absence of respectability in the faces of the people caused me to refrain from giving the order to fire.

Fortunately at this critical moment I discovered an officer of the City Guards, whom I hailed and told that I wished to communicate with the mayor. He begged me to leave the marines on the levee, for he felt sure that to march them through the streets at this time would provoke a conflict. As my object was to communicate with the mayor without unnecessary shedding of blood, I sent the marine guard back to the ship, retaining only one non-commissioned officer, with a musket.

I tied my handkerchief on the bayonet, and with Midshipman Read and this man took up the march for the City Hall. We were cursed and jostled by the mob which filled the streets, but no actual violence was offered us. We found the mayor in the City Hall with his council. The Hon. Pierre Soule was also there, having doubtless been called in as an adviser. The mayor declined to surrender the city formally, but said as we had the force we could take possession.

While we were in the City Hall a mob came up from the lower part of the city with an American ensign, and when they saw us they tore the flag to shreds and threw them into the open window at us. I did not comprehend the meaning of this singular and wild demonstration at the time, but afterward learned that on the morning of this same day Farragut had instructed Captain H. W. Morris [93] of the Pensacola, then at anchor abreast of the United States Mint, to hoist a flag on that building, it being United States property. Captain Morris accordingly sent Lieutenant Stillwell with some officers and men from the ship, and the flag was hoisted. It was up only a short time when Mumford hauled it down. It was seized by the mob, which paraded it through the streets with fife and drum until they reached the City Hall, where it was destroyed, as above described. I afterward happened to be present when Farragut reported the hauling down of this flag to General Butler, and I heard the latter say, “I will make an example of that fellow by hanging him.” Farragut smiled and remarked, “You know, General, you will have to catch him before you can hang him.” General Butler said, “I know that, but I will catch him, and then hang him.” History attests how well he kept his word, and there is no doubt but that this hanging proved a wholesome lesson.

The mob soon appeared to be growing more violent, and above the general din was heard an occasional invitation to “the----Yankees” to “come out and be run up to lamp-posts.” At this time Mr. Soule suggested to me that it would save much trouble to all concerned if I would take my party in a carriage from the rear exit of the hall, the mayor's secretary, Mr. Marion Baker, going with us, while he addressed the mob. He did not hope to have the mob obey him, he only expected to hold it long enough to give us time to get to the landing; and he accomplished his undertaking admirably. Few people ever knew what an important service Mr. Soule thus rendered to New Orleans.

Farragut fully approved my action. I was not expected to bring a satisfactory answer from the mayor, for he was really helpless and had no control over the city. All he could say was, “Come and take the city; we are powerless.”

The 27th and 28th passed in rather a fruitless negotiation, but time did an important work.1 The mob tired itself out, and no longer threatened such violence as on the 26th.

On the 29th Farragut decided that the time had come for him to take formal possession of the city; he felt that this was a duty he owed to the navy, and he accordingly sent an expedition on shore under command of Fleet Captain H. H. Bell, and of this party I was second in command. I had a detachment of sailors and two boat-howitzers, and was assisted by Midshipmen John H. Read and E. C. Hazeltine.2 A battalion of marines made part of our expedition; this was under the command of Captain John L. Broome. We landed at the foot of Canal street and proceeded to a position in front of the Custom-house, where the marines were drawn up in line, with loaded pieces and flanked by the howitzers, loaded with shrapnel. The people made no demonstration, but looked on in sullen silence. Captain Bell and I, with a boatswain's mate carrying our ensign, entered the Custom-house, where the postmaster received us cordially, remarking, “Thank God that you are here. I have been a Union man all the time. I was appointed by Buchanan, not by Jeff Davis; he only allowed me to remain.” The postmaster showed us to the roof of the building, where we found a flag-staff with halliards. The boatswain's mate bent on the flag and I reported all ready, when Captain Bell gave the order, “Hoist away!” and the boatswain's mate and I put our hands to the halliards, and “the Stars and Stripes rose into the sky and swelled on the breeze.” A guard with the lieutenant of marines was left in charge of the flag at the Custom-house, and the landing party moved on to the City Hall, the crowd increasing as that small body of Union men approached t he “State flag.” There the marines were again drawn up in line, and the howitzers commanded the streets; thousands of spectators filled the open spaces. That immense assemblage had the will to annihilate the small force of sailors and marines, but they had begun to think, and the impression that resistance to United States authority would invoke the wrath of the squadron had gone abroad; still no one knew but that one or two desperate men were ready to fire the train that would lead to the magazine.

Captain Bell gave Mayor Monroe the privilege of hauling down the State flag, but he indignantly declined. Captain Bell then directed me to go to the roof of the building and haul the flag down, he remaining on the top floor at the foot of the ladder. An ordinary ladder led to the roof, through a small covered hatchway. The boatswain's mate ascended first, shoved the hatch cover to one side, and gained the roof. I followed him, and finding the halliards knotted, I drew my sword and cut them; we then hauled the flag down,3 took it to the floor below and handed it to Captain Bell, who on our return to the [94]

Scene at the City Hall — hauling down the State flag. The local papers spoke of the State flag on the City I-all at the time as the “Lone Star flag.” General Beauregard, in a letter to Admiral Preble, in 1872, says this flag was adopted in 1861 by the State Convention of Louisiana. It had thirteen stripes, four blue, six white, and three red, commencing at the top, with the colors as written. The Union was red, with its sides equal to the width of seven stripes. In its center was a single pale-yellow five-pointed star.--A. K.

ship delivered it to Farragut. Before we ascended to the roof, the mayor informed Captain Bell, in the presence of his officers, that the men who attempted to haul down the flag might be shot by the indignant populace assembled on the surrounding house-tops, and he expressed his fears in the hope that he would not be held responsible for the act, in case it should be perpetrated. Fortunately for the peace of the city of New Orleans, the vast crowd looked on in sullen silence as the flag came down. There was no flag hoisted on the City Hall in place of the State flag, for the reason that it had not covered United States property. The mission of the landing party having been accomplished, the officers and men returned to the levee in marching order, where they took boats for their respective vessels. The flag on the Custom-house was guarded by the marines of the Hartford, until the arrival of General Butler with his troops [May 1st].

On the morning of May 2d Farragut sent me with the keys of the Custom-house to the St. Charles Hotel, where I delivered them to General Butler, remarking as I did so, “General, I fear you are going to have rather a lawless party to govern, from what I have seen in the past three or four days.” The general replied, “No doubt of that, but I think I understand these people, and can govern them.” The general took the reins in his hands at once, and held them until December 23d, 1862, when he was relieved of the command of the Department of the Gulf by General N. P. Banks.

1 Of the occurrences of the 28th, Captain H. H. Bell says in his diary: “Apr. 28th, Delivered Flag-Officer's letter to the Mayor and Council, who in an address from the Mayor repeated all that was in their letters to [the] Flag-Officer, and nothing more; only wanting me to explain the last clause of Flag-Officer's last letter to them. I replied that I could say nothing that could add to or take away from the clause in question — that the language was very clear. It was suggested that the populace in front of the hall was violent, and that they would furnish me a guard for escort to boat, which I respectfully declined as unnecessary. They then ordered a hack, and, accompanied by Chief of Police McClelland, and Mayor's Clerk, and Master Tyson, U. S. N., passing out through a private way, drove to the landing without meeting mob. Mr. Soule was present and seated on the right hand of Mayor — the only man seated in the chamber. Their countenances expressed consternation. They repeated that ‘the man lived not in the city who dared to haul down the flag from over the City Hall.’ The people-boys generally — were perfectly quiet until near the City Hall, when they began to give vent to their feelings by ‘ Hurrah for Jeff Davis!’ ‘ Hurrah for Beauregard!’ and the use of some angry language.”--Editors.

2 It is a strange fact that the three officers of the line with whom I went on shore on this occasion were all afterward drowned. Bell, who was then rear-admiral, and Read, who was lieutenant-commander, were swamped in a boat while going ashore from the Hartford, at Osako, Japan, and Hazeltine as an ensign went down in the Housatonic.--A. K.

3 Captain Bell in his diary says that when he offered to Lieutenant Kautz the privilege of hauling down the flag the latter waived the offer in favor of George Russell, boatswain's mate of the Hartford, to whom the honor had been promised.--Editors.

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