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[189]

Chapter 19: battle of the forts and capture of New Orleans.


It is desirable in some respects to make this a book of reference, especially in regard to official letters, which seldom or ever are seen by the public, the several reports of Admiral Farragut, also those of his officers, contain details of the battle at the forts, and of the capture of New Orleans, which can best be told by those who were participators in those stirring scenes, and they are appended to the general account of the battle. In the course of a few years these letters will become inaccessible, except from the files of the Navy Department, and they should be treasured as the ground-work of the history of the most important naval battle of modern times,--we do not think any excuse is needed for inserting them here.

Commencement and progress of the bombardment of Fort Jackson.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, Mississippi River, April 2, 1862.
Sir — We commenced the bombardment of Fort Jackson on the 16th, which was the earliest day possible after the arrival of coal. On the first day the citadel was set on fire, and burnt until two o'clock the next morning. On the 17th we made but little apparent impression on the fort.

On the 18th we dismounted one of their heavy Columbiads and otherwise appeared to damage them, and drove the men from the parapet guns, so that they only appeared occasionally when the gun-boats took part in the bombardment to draw the fire from the bomb vessels. On the 19th a deserter came to us from the fort, and gave the information that I have stated above, and much other information in relation to the armament of the forts and their general condition.

The wind was blowing from the northwest, and chilly, the current running with great strength, so that the ships, when under way, could scarcely stem it, so that I shall await a change of wind and a consequent less violent current before I attack the forts, as I find great difficulty in avoiding collisions among the vessels. Two of the gun-boats, Katahdin and Sciota. have been seriously damaged by getting across-hawse of the ships and running into each other. We lose a great many anchors and cables, and those articles are very much wanted in the squadron. The Hartford is almost the only ship that has not lost both.

On the first day's fire of the enemy they put a shot through one of the mortar vessels and killed one man but did not destroy her efficiency. The second day they sunk one with a rifle shot, but hurt no one materially. They have sent down five firerafts; none produced any effect on the fleet except the last, which only caused the collision of the Sciota and Kineo, both of which vessels dragged across the bows of the Mississippi, and carried away the mainmast of the first, and damaged them both very much otherwise; the raft was turned clear of all the vessels of the fleet, but as the wind and strong current were peculiarly favorable, it gave us more trouble than on any former occasion. [190]

I sent up Commander Bell last evening to destroy the chain and raft across the river, but the current was so strong that he could accomplish but little, in consequence of one of his gun-boats getting on shore, and she was only saved by great exertion, as the enemy was firing on them all the time.

Commander Porter, however, kept up such a tremendous fire on them from the mortars that the enemy's shot did the gunboats no injury, and the cable was separated and their connection broken sufficiently to pass through on the left bank of the river. The petard operator failed to fire his petards, owing to the breaking of his wires, which prevented the full destruction of the chain and the vessels; but great allowance is to be made for the violence of the current, which exceeds anything we have had to contend with since our arival in the river.

In conclusion, I regret to say that the fleet is in want of all the essentials to carry on our work — shells, fuses (15″ and 20″,) serge and yarn, to make cartridge-bags, grape and canister shot — for all of which I made large requisitions, and the articles may be on their way out.

The medical department is miserably supplied for the care of the wounded. General Butler has offered to share with us, in fact. everything he has, which will supply many of our wants; but justice to myself requires me to say that I required all these supplies some time before I left Hampton Roads, and others immediately on my arrival at Key West or Ship Island, and I suppose accidental causes have stopped them on their way out here.1

My coal arrived just in time.

All of which is respectfully submitted by your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.


Attack on forts Jackson and St. Philip.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, at anchor off New Orleans, April 25, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to inform the department that on the 24th instant, at about half-past 3 A. M., I attacked Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson with my little fleet. while Commander Porter most gallantly bombarded them, and, besides, took them in the flank with his steamers, aided by the Portsmouth. Such a fire I imagine, the world has rarely seen, but, thank God, we got past the forts with a loss of only twenty-four killed and eighty-six wounded; but as I have not heard what became of the three gun-boats, Kennebec, Itasca, and Winona, I fear they were lost in passing, and the Varuna was run into by two of the Confederate steamers, and finally sunk: I took (and burnt) eleven steam gun-boats, and two hundred troops or upwards. I then pushed up for the city of New Orleans, leaving two gun-boats to aid General Butler in landing at the quarantine, and sent him a communication by Commander Boggs, requesting him to come up at once. I came up to within six or seven miles of the city, when two forts opened on us, but we silenced them in fifteen or twenty minutes, although it was warm work while it lasted. I have not yet heard of the killed and wounded. We only lost one man and none wounded, although Captain Bailey, in the Cayuga, with Lieut. Com. Harrison, and this ship, stood the first brunt of the action, before the other vessels could get up. We drove them from their guns, and passed up to the city in fine style, and I now send this notice of our having taken possession of the city at meridian or a few minutes P. M.

But I must say I never witnessed such vandalism in my life as the destruction of property; all the shipping, steamboats, etc., were set on fire and consumed. The new iron-clad ram, just finished, but without her machinery, went floating by us. While I am finishing this report, Captain Bailey has been sent to demand the surrender of the city to me in the name of the United States.

I shall now send down with this letter Commander Smith, in the Mississippi, to look after General Butler, and a ram, which it appears we left behind at Fort Jackson, as it might be more than a match for the two gun-boats I left behind.

In conclusion, I hope I have done all I proposed to do, which was, to take the city of New Orleans; and I will now, in conjunction with the Army, General Butler, reduce the forts, and take care of the outlet from the west, and purpose immediately to ascend to meet Flag-officer Foote.

The conduct of the officers and men has been such as to command my highest admiration, and shall hereafter be a subject of more special commendation.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.


[191]

Announcement of the capture of forts Jackson and St. Philip and surrender of New Orleans.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, at anchor off New Orleans, April 29, 1862.
Sir — I am happy to announce to you that our flag waves over both Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and at New Orleans over the custom-house. I am taking every means to secure the occupation by General Butler of all the forts along the coast. Berwick's Bay and Fort Pike have been abandoned; in fact, there is a general stampede, and I shall endeavor to follow it up. * *

I am bringing up the troops as fast as possible. We have destroyed all the forts above the city, four in number; which are understood to be all the impediments between this and Memphis.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.


Flag-officer Farragut's detailed report of the battles of the Mississippi.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, at anchor off New Orleans, May 6, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor herewith to forward my report, in detail, of the battle of New Orleans. On the 23d of March I made all my arrangements for the attack on, and passage of, Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

Every vessel was as well prepared as the ingenuity of her commander and officers could suggest, both for the preservation of life and of the vessel, and, perhaps, there is not on record such a display of ingenuity as has been evinced in this little squadron. The first was by the engineer of the Richmond, Mr. Moore, by suggesting that the sheet cables be stopped up and down on the sides in the line of the engines, which was immediately adopted by all the vessels. Then each commander made his own arrangements for stopping the shot from penetrating the boilers and machinery that might come in forward or abaft, by hammocks, coal, bags of ashes, bags of sand, clothes bags, and, in fact, every device imaginable. The bulwarks were lined with hammocks by some, by splinter nettings made with ropes by others. Some rubbed their vessels over with mud to make their ships less visible, and some whitewashed their decks, to make things more visible by night during the fight, all of which you will find mentioned in the reports of the commanders. In the afternoon I visited each ship, in order to know positively that each commander understood my orders for the attack, and see that all was in readiness. I had looked to their efficiency before. Every one appeared to understand their orders well, and looked forward to the conflict with firmness, but with anxiety, as it was to be in the night, or at 2 o'clock A. M.

I had previously sent Capt. Bell, with the petard man, with Lieut. Com. Crosby, in the Pinola, and Lieut. Com. Caldwell, in the Itasca, to break the chain which crossed the river, and was supported by eight hulks, which were strongly moored. This duty was not thoroughly performed, in consequence of the failure to ignite the petards with the galvanic battery and the great strength of the current. Still, it was a success, and under the circumstances, a highly meritorious one.

The vessel boarded by Lieut. Com. Caldwell appears to have had her chains so secured that they could be cast loose, which was done by that officer, and thereby making an opening sufficiently large for the ships to pass through. It was all done under a heavy fire and at a great hazard to the vessel, for the particulars of which I refer you to Captain Bell's report (marked A). Upon the night preceding the attack, however, I despatched Lieut. Com. Caldwell to make an examination, and to see that the passage was still clear, and to make me a signal to that effect, which he did at an early hour. The enemy commenced sending down fire-rafts and lighting their fires on the shore opposite the chain about the same time, which drew their fire on Lieut. Com. Caldwell, but without injury. At about five minutes to two o'clock A. M., April 24, signal was made to get under way (two ordinary red lights, so as not to attract the attention of the enemy), but owing to the great difficulty in purchasing their anchors, the Pensacola and some of the other vessels were not under way until half-past 3. We then advanced in two columns, Captain Bailey leading the right in the gun-boat Cayuga, Lieut. Com. Harrison, he having been assigned to the first division of gun-boats, which was to attack Fort St. Philip in conjunction with the second division of ships, and the Hartford, the left; Fleet Captain Bell leading the second division of gunboats in the Sciota; Lieut. Com. Donaldson to assist the first division of ships to attack Fort Jackson, as will be shown by the general order and diagram sent herewith. The enemy's lights, while they discovered us to them, were, at the same time, guides to us. We soon passed the barrier chains, the right column taking Fort St. Philip, and the left Fort Jackson. The fire became general, the smoke dense, and we [192] had nothing to aim at but the flash of their guns; it was very difficult to distinguish friends from foes. Captain Porter had, by arrangement, moved up to a certain point on the Fort Jackson side with his gunboats, and I had assigned the same post to Captain Swartwout, in the Portsmouth, to engage the water batteries to the southward and eastward of Fort Jackson, while his mortar-vessels poured a terrific fire of shells into it. I discovered a fire-raft coming down upon us, and in attempting to avoid it ran the ship on shore, and the ram Manassas, which I had not seen, lay on the opposite of it, and pushed it down upon us. Our ship was soon on fire half-way up to her tops, but we backed off, and through the good organization of our fire department, and the great exertions of Captain Wainwright and his first lieutenant, officers and crew, the fire was extinguished. In the meantime our battery was never silent, but poured in its missiles of death into Fort St. Philip, opposite to which he had got by this time, and it was silenced, with the exception of a gun now and then. By this time the enemy's gun-boats, some thirteen in number, besides two iron-clad rams, the Manassas and Louisiana, had become more visible. We took them in hand, and, in the course of time destroyed eleven of them. We were now fairly past the forts and the victory was ours, but still here and there a gun-boat making resistance. Two of them had attacked the Varuna, which vessel, by her greater speed, was much in advance of us; they ran into her and caused her to sink, but not before she had destroyed her adversaries, and their wrecks now lie side by side, a monument to the gallantry of Captain Boggs, his officers and crew. It was a kind of guerrilla warfare; they were fighting in all directions. Captains Bailey and Bell, who were in command of the first and second divisions of gun-boats, were as active in rendering assistance in every direction as lay in their power. Just as the scene appeared to be closing, the ram Manassas was seen coming up under full speed to attack us. I directed Captain Smith, in the Mississippi, to turn and run her down; the order was instantly obeyed by the Mississippi turning and going at her at full speed. Just as we expected to see the ram annihilated, when within fifty yards of each other, she put her helm hard a-port, dodged the Mississippi, and ran ashore. The Mississippi poured two broadsides into her, and sent her drifting down the river a total wreck. This closed our morning's fight.

The department will perceive that after the organization and arrangements had been made, and we had fairly entered into the fight, the density of the smoke from guns and fire-rafts, the scenes passing on board our own ship and around us (for it was as if the artillery of heaven were playing upon the earth), that it was impossible for the Flag-officer to see how each vessel was conducting itself, and can only judge by the final results and their special reports, which are herewith enclosed; but I feel that I can say with truth that it has rarely been the lot of a commander to be supported by officers of more indomitable courage or higher professional merit.

Captain Bailey, who had preceded me up the quarantine station, had captured the Chalmette regiment, Colonel Szymanski; and not knowing what to do with them, as every moment was a great loss to me, I paroled both officers and men, and took away all their arms, munitions of war and public property, and ordered them to remain where they were until the next day. I sent some of the gun-boats to precede me up the river, to cut the telegraph wires in different places.

It now became me to look around for my little fleet, and to my regret I found that three were missing — the Itasca, Winona, and Kennebec. Various were the speculations as to their fate, whether they had been sunk on the passage or had put back. I therefore determined immediately to send Captain Boggs, whose vessel was now sunk, through the quarantine bayou, around to Commander Porter, telling him of our safe arrival, and to demand the surrender of the forts, and to endeavor to get some tidings of the missing vessels. I also sent a despatch by him to General Butler, informing him that the way was clear for him to land his forces through the quarantine bayou, in accordance with previous arrangements, and that I should leave gunboats there to protect him against the enemy, who I now perceived had three or four gun-boats left at the forts — the Louisiana, an iron-clad battery of 16 guns; the McCrea, very similar in appearance to one of our gunboats, and armed very much in the same way; the Defiance, and a river steamer transport.

We then proceeded up to New Orleans, leaving the Wissahickon and Kineo to protect the landing of the General's troops. Owing to the slowness of some of the vessels, and our want of knowledge of the river, we did not reach the English Turn until about 10:30 A. M. on the 25th; but all the morning I had seen abundant evidence of the panic which had seized the people in New Orleans. Cotton-loaded ships on fire came floating down, and working implements of every kind, such as are used in ship-yards. The destruction of property was awful. We soon descried the new earthwork forts on the old lines on both shores. [193] We now formed and advanced in the same order, two lines, each line taking its respective work. Captain Bailey was still far in advance, not having noticed my signal for close order, which was to enable the slow vessels to come up. They opened on him a galling fire, which caused us to run up to his rescue; this gave them the advantage of a raking fire on us for upwards of a mile, with some twenty guns, while we had but two 9-inch guns on our forecastle to reply to them. It was not long, however, before we were enabled to bear away and give the forts a broadside of shell, shrapnel and grape, the Pensacola at the same time passing up and giving a tremendous broadside of the same kind to the starboard fort; and by the time we could reload, the Brooklyn, Captain Craven, passed handsomely between us and the battery and delivered her broadside and shut us out. By this time the other vessels had gotten up, and ranged in one after another, delivering their broadsides in spiteful revenge for the ill-treatment of the little Cayuga. The forts were silenced, and those who could run were running in every direction. We now passed up to the city and anchored immediately in front of it, and I sent Captain Bailey on shore to demand the surrender of it from the authorities, to which the Mayor replied that the city was under martial law, and that he had no authority. General Lovell, who was present, stated that he should deliver up nothing, but in order to free the city from embarrassment he would restore the city authorities, and retire with his troops, which he did. The correspondence with the city authorities and myself is herewith annexed. I then seized all the steamboats and sent them down to quarantine for General Butler's forces. Among the number of these boats is the famous Tennessee, which our blockaders have been so long watching, but which, you will perceive, never got out.

The levee of New Orleans was one scene of desolation. Ships, steamers, cotton, coal, etc., were all in one common blaze, and our ingenuity was much taxed to avoid the floating conflagration.

I neglected to mention my having good information respecting the iron-clad rams which they were building. I sent Captain Lee up to seize the principal one, the Mississippi, which was to be the terror of these seas, and no doubt would have been to a great extent; but she came floating by us all in flames, and passed down the river. Another was sunk immediately in front of the custom house; others were building in Algiers, just begun.

I next went above the city eight miles, to Carrolton, where I learned there were two other forts, but the panic had gone before me. I found the guns spiked, and the guncarriages in flames. The first work, on the right reaches from the Mississippi nearly over to Pontchartrain, and has 29 guns: the one on the left had six guns, from which Commander Lee took some fifty barrels of powder, and completed the destruction of the gun-carriages, etc. A mile higher up there were two other earthworks, but not yet armed.

We discovered here, fastened to the right bank of the river, one of the most herculean labors I have ever seen — a raft and chain to extend across the river to prevent Foote's gun-boats from descending. It is formed by placing three immense logs of not less than three or four feet in diameter and some thirty feet long; to the centre one a two-inch chain is attached, running lengthwise the raft, and the three logs and chain are then frapped together by chains from one-half to one inch, three or four layers, and there are 96 of these lengths composing the raft: it is at least three-quarters of a mile long.

On the evening of the 29th Captain Bailey arrived from below, with the gratifying intelligence that the forts had surrendered to Commander Porter, and had delivered up all public property, and were being paroled, and that the Navy had been made to surrender unconditionally, as they had conducted themselves with bad faith, burning and sinking their vessels while a flag of truce was flying, and the forts negotiating for their surrender, and the Louisiana, their great iron-clad battery, blown up almost alongside of the vessel where they were negotiating; hence their officers were not paroled, but sent home to be treated according to the judgment of the Government.

General Butler came up the same day, and arrangements were made for bringing up his troops.

I sent on shore and hoisted the American flag on the custom-house, and hauled down the Louisiana State flag from the city hall, as the mayor had avowed that there was no man in New Orleans who dared to haul it down; and my own convictions are that if such an individual could have been found he would have been assassinated.

Thus, sir, I have endeavored to give you an account of my attack upon New Orleans from our first movement to the surrender of the city to General Butler, whose troops are now in full occupation, protected, however, by the Pensacola, Portsmouth, and one gunboat, while I have sent a force of seven vessels, under command of Captain Craven, up the river, to keep up the panic as far as possible. The large ships, I fear, will not be able to go higher than Baton Rouge, while I have sent the smaller vessels, under Commander Lee, as high as [194] Vicksburg, in the rear of Jackson, to cut off their supplies from the west.

I trust, therefore, that it will be found by the government that I have carried out my instructions to the letter and to the best of my abilities, so far as this city is concerned, which is respectfully submitted.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Fleet-Surgeon J. W. Foltz.


Correspondence relating to the surrender of New Orleans.


No. 1.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford. at anchor off New Orleans, April 26, 1862.
Sir: Upon my arrival before your city I had the honor to send to your honor, Captain Bailey, United States navy, second in command of the expedition, to demand of you the surrender of New Orleans to me, as the representative of the government of the United States. Captain Bailey reported to me the result of an interview with yourself and the military authorities. It must occur to your honor that it is not within the province of a naval officer to assume the duties of a military commandant. I came here to reduce New Orleans to obedience to the laws of, and to vindicate the offended majesty of the United States. The rights of persons and property shall be secure. I therefore demand of you, as its representative, the unqualified surrender of the city, and that the emblem of sovereignty of the United States be hoisted over the city hall, mint, and custom-house by meridian this. day, and that all flags and other emblems of sovereignty other than those of the United States shall be removed from all the public buildings by that hour. I particularly request that you shall exercise your authority to quell disturbances, restore order, and call upon all the good people of New Orleans to return at once to their vocations; and I particularly demand that no person shall be molested in person or property for professing sentiments of loyalty to their government. I shall speedily and severely punish any person or persons who shall commit such outrages as were witnessed yesterday, armed men firing upon helpless women and children for giving expression to their pleasure at witnessing the old flag.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. his excellency the mayor of the City of New Orleans


No. 2.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, at anchor off the city of New Orleans, April 26, 1862.
Your honor will please give directions that no flag but that of the United States will be permitted to fly in the presence of this fleet so long as it has the power to prevent it; and as all displays of that kind may be the cause of bloodshed, I have to request that you will give this communication as general a circulation as possible.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. his honor the mayor of New Orleans.


No. 3.

General order.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, off the city of New Orleans, April 26, 1862.
Eleven o'clock this morning is the hour appointed for all the officers and crews of the fleet to return thanks to Almighty God for His great goodness and mercy in permitting [195] us to pass through the events of the last two days with so little loss of life and blood

At that hour the church pennant will be hoisted on every vessel of the fleet, and their crews assembled will, in humiliation and prayer, make their acknowledgments therefor to the Great Dispenser of all human events.

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.

Mayoralty of New Orleans, City Hall. April 26, 1862.
Sir: In pursuance of the resolution which he thought proper to take, out of regard for the lives of the women and children who still crowd this great metropolis, General Lovell has evacuated it with his troops, and restored back to me the administration of its government and the custody of its honor.

I have, in concert with the city fathers, considered the demand you made of me on yesterday of an unconditional surrender of the city, coupled with a requisition to hoist up the flag of the United States on the public edifices, and to haul down that which still floated to the breeze from the dome of this hall; and it becomes my duty to transmit to you the answer which the universal sentiment of my constituency, no less than the promptings of my own heart, dictate to me on this sad and solemn occasion.

The city is without means of defence, and utterly destitute of the force and material that might enable it to resist the overpowering armament displayed in sight of it.

I am no military man, and possess no authority beyond that of executing the municipal laws of the city of New Orleans. It would be presumptuous in me to attempt to lead an army to the field, if I had one at my command, and I know still less how to surrender an undefended place, held as this is at the mercy of your gunners and mouths of your mortars. To surrender such a place were an idle and unmeaning ceremony. The city is yours by the power of brutal force, and not by any choice or consent of its inhabitants. It is for you to determine what shall be the fate that awaits her.

As to the hoisting of any flag than the flag of our adoption and allegiance, let me say to you, sir, that the man lives not in our midst whose hand and heart would not be palsied at the mere thought of such an act, nor could I find in my entire constituency so wretched and desperate a renegade as would dare to profane with his hand the sacred emblem of our aspirations.

Sir, you have manifested sentiments which would become one engaged in a better cause than that to which you have devoted your sword. I doubt not but that they spring from a noble though deluded nature, and I know how to appreciate the emotions which inspire them: You will have a gallant people to administer during your occupation of this city; a people sensitive of all that can in the least affect its dignity and self-respect. Pray, sir, do not allow them to be insulted by the interference of such as have rendered themselves odious and contemptible by the dastardly desertion of the mighty struggle in which we are engaged, nor of such as might remind them too painfully that they are the conquered and you the conquerors. Peace and order may be preserved without a resort to measures which could not fail to wound their susceptibilities and fire up their passions.

The obligations which I shall assume in their name shall be religiously complied with. You may trust their honor, though you might not count on their submission to unmerited wrong.

In conclusion, I beg you to understand that the people of New Orleans, while unable at this moment to prevent you from occupying this city, do not transfer their allegiance from the government of their choice to one which they have deliberately repudiated, and that they yield simply that obedience which the conqueror is enabled to extort from the conquered.

Since writing the above, which is an answer to your verbal communication of yesterday, I have received a written communication, to which I shall reply before 12 o'clock M., if possible to prepare an answer in that time.

Respectfully,


City Hall, April 25, 1862.
Honorable Common Council:
Gentlemen: At half-past 1 o'clock to-day I was waited upon by Captain Bailey, second in command of the Federal fleet now lying in front of the city, bearing a demand from Flag officer Farragut for the unconditional surrender of the city of New Orleans and hoisting of the United States flag on the custom-house, post-office, and mint. He also demanded that the Louisiana flag should be hauled down from the city hall. I replied that General Lovell was in command here, and that I was without authority to act in military matters. General Lovell was then sent for, and to him, after stating that his mission was to the mayor and council, Captain Bailey addressed his demands.

General Lovell refused to surrender the city or his forces, or any portion of them but accompanied his refusal with the statement that he should evacuate the city, withdraw [196] his troops, and then leave the civil authorities to act as they might deem proper.

It is proper here to state that, in reply to the demand to haul down the flag from the city hall, I returned an unqualified refusal.

I am now in momentary expectation of receiving a second peremptory demand for the surrender of the city. I solicit your advice in the emergency. My own opinion is, that, as a civil magistrate, possessed of no military power, I am incompetent to perform a military act such as the surrender of the city to a hostile force; that it would be proper to say, in reply to a demand of that character, that we are without military protection; that the troops have withdrawn from the city; that we are consequently incapable of making any resistance, and therefore we can offer no obstruction to the occupation of the place by the enemy; that the custom-house, post-office, and mint are the property of the Confederate Government, and that we have no control over them; and that all acts involving a transfer of authority be performed by the invading forces themselves; that we yield to physical force alone, and that we maintain our allegiance to the Government of the Confederate States. Beyond this a due respect for our dignity, our rights, and the flag of our country does not, I think, permit us to go.

Respectfully,

The above message, which want of time prevented me from having copied, I enclose for information.

Respectfully,


Common council of the city of New Orleans--no. 6002.

Mayoralty of New Orleans, City Hall, April 26, 1862.
The common council of the city of New Orleans, having been advised by the military authorities that the city is indefensible, declare that no resistance will be made to the forces of the United States.

Resolved, That the sentiments expressed in the message of his honor the Mayor of the common council are in perfect accordance with the sentiments entertained by these councils and by the entire population of this metropolis, and that the Mayor be respectfully requested to act in the spirit manifested by the message.

S. P. de Labarre, Pres. pro tern of Board of Aldermen. J. Magioni, Pres. of Board of Assistant Aldermen.
Approved, April 26, 1862.

A true copy,

Marion N. Baker, Secretary to Mayor.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, at anchor off the city of New Orleans, April 28, 1862.
Sir — Your communication of the 26th instant has been received, together with that of the city councils.

I deeply regret to see, both by their contents and the continued display of the flag of Louisiana on the court-house, a determination on the part of the city authorities not to haul it down. Moreover, when my officers and men were sent on shore to communicate with the authorities and to hoist the United States flag on the custom-house, with the strictest orders not to use their arms unless assailed, they were insulted in the grossest manner, and the flag which had been hoisted by my orders on the mint was pulled down and dragged through the streets. All of which go to show that the fire of this fleet may be drawn upon the city at any moment, and in such an event the levee would, in all probability, be cut by the shells, and an amount of distress ensue to the innocent population which I have heretofore endeavored to assure you that I desired by all means to avoid. The election is therefore with you; but it becomes my duty to notify you to remove the women and children from the city within forty-eight hours, if I have rightly understood your determination.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. His Honor the mayor and city council of the City of New Orleans.

mayoralty of New Orleans, City Hall, April 28, 1862.
To the Common Council:
Gentlemen — I herewith transmit to you a communication from Flag-officer Farragut, commanding the United States fleet now lying in front of the city. I have informed the officer bearing the communication that I would lay it before you, and return such answer as the city authorities might think proper to be made.

In the meantime permit me to suggest that Flag-officer Farragut appears to have misunderstood the position of the city of New Orleans. He had been distinctly informed that at this moment the city has no power to impede the exercise of such acts of forcible authority as the commander of the United States naval forces may choose to exercise, and that therefore no resistance would be offered to the occupation of the city by the United States forces.

If it is deemed necessary to remove the flag now floating from this building, or to raise United States flags on others, the [197] power which threatened the destruction of our city is certainly capable of performing those acts. New Orleans is not now a military post; there is no military commander within its limits; it is like an unoccupied fortress, of which an assailant may at any moment take possession. But I do not believe that the constituency represented by you or by me embraces one loyal citizen who would be willing to incur the odium of tearing down the symbol representing the State authority to which New Orleans owes her municipal existence. I am deeply sensible of the distress which would be brought upon our community by a consummation of the inhuman threat of the United States commander; but I cannot conceive that those who so recently declared themselves to be animated by a Christian spirit, and by a regard for the rights of private property, would venture to incur for themselves and the government they represent the universal execration of the civilized world by attempting to achieve, through a wanton destruction of life and property, that which they can accomplish without bloodshed, and without a resort to those hostile measures which the law of nations condemns and execrates, when employed upon the defenceless women and children of an unresisting city.

Respectfully,


Mayoralty of New Orleans, City Hall, April 28, 1862.
Sir-Your communication of this morning is the first intimation I ever had that it was by “your strict orders” that the United States flag was attempted to be hoisted upon certain of our public edifices by officers sent on shore to communicate with the authorities. The officers who approached me in your name disclosed no such orders, and intimated no such designs on your part; nor could I have for a moment entertained the remotest suspicion that they could have been invested with powers to enter on such an errand while the negotiations for a surrender between you and the city authorities were still pending. The interference of any force under your command, as long as these negotiations were not brought to a close, could not be viewed by me otherwise than as a flagrant violation of those courtesies, if not of the absolute rights, which prevail between belligerents under such circumstances. My views and my sentiments in reference to such conduct remain unchanged.

You now renew the demands made in your last communication, and you insist on their being complied with, unconditionally, under a threat of bombardment within forty-eight hours; and you notify me to remove the women and children from the city, that they may be protected from your shells.

Sir, you cannot but know that there is no possible exit from this city for a population which still exceeds in number 140,01)0, and you must therefore be aware of the utter inanity of such a notification. Our women and children cannot escape from your shells, if it be your pleasure to murder them on a question of mere etiquette. But if they could, there are but few among them who would consent to desert their families and their homes, and the graves of their relatives, in so awful a moment. They will bravely stand the sight of your shells rolling over the bones of those who were once dear to them, and would deem that they died not ingloriously by the side of the tombs erected by their piety to the memory of departed relatives.

You are not satisfied with the peaceable possession of an undefended city, opposing no resistance to your guns, because of its bearing its doom with something of manliness and dignity, and you wish to humble and disgrace us by the performance of an act against which our nature rebels. This satisfaction you cannot expect to obtain at our hands.

We will stand your bombardment, unarmed and undefended as we are. The civilized world will consign to indelible infamy the heart that will conceive the deed and the hand that will dare to consummate it.

Respectfully,

John T. Monroe, Mayor. Mr. Farragut, Flag-officer of the United States fleet in front of the City of New Orleans.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford. At Anchor Off The City of New Orleans, April 28, 1862.
Sir — Hereafter, when I desire to communicate with the authorities, I will hoist a square flag with a diagonal red cross, when, if your honor will send your secretary, or any other person, to receive my communication to the shore opposite to the ship bearing that flag, a boat will be sent with an officer to deliver the document.

When the city authorities desire to communicate with me, by the messenger holding his handkerchief by two corners opposite the ship, a boat will be sent for him or his communication.

As my duties call me away from before the city for a short time, I request that you will send your reply to any other vessel that may be present.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. His Honor The Mayor of New Orleans.

[198]

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, At Anchor Off The City of New Orleans, April 29, 1862.
Sir — The forts St. Philip and Jackson having surrendered, and all the military defences of the city being captured or abandoned, you are required, as the sole representative of any supposed authority in the city, to haul down and suppress every ensign and symbol of government, whether State or Confederate, except that of the United States. I am now about to raise the flag of the United States upon the customhouse, and you will see that it is respected with all the civil power of the city.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. His Honor The Mayor of the City of New Orleans.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, At Anchor Off The City of New Orleans, April 30, 1862.
Gentlemen — I informed you, in my communication of the 28th of April, that your determination, as I understood it, was not to haul down the flag of Louisiana on the city hall, and that my officers and men were treated with insult and rudeness when they landed, even with a flag of truce, to communicate with the authorities, etc., and if such was to be the determined course of the people, the fire of the vessel might at any moment be drawn upon the city. This you have thought proper to construe into a determination on my part to murder your women and children, and made your letter so offensive that it will terminate our intercourse; and so soon as General Butler arrives with his forces, I shall turn over the charge of the city to him and assume my naval duties.

Very respectfully, etc.,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. His Honor The Mayor And City Council of New Orleans.


Reports of Captain T. Bailey, Second in command.

United States Gun-Boat Cayuga, At Sea, May 7, 1862.
Sir — Having found it impossible to get the Colorado over the bars of the Mississippi, I sent a large portion of her guns and crew, filling up deficiencies of both in the different vessels, and, with my aid, Act. Midshipman Higginson, steward, and boat's crew, followed up myself, hoisting, by authority of the flag-officer, my red, distinguishing flag as second in command, first on the Oneida, Commander Lee, and afterwards on the Cayuga.

That brave, resolute, and indefatigable officer, Commander D. D. Porter, was at work with his mortar fleet, throwing shells at and into Fort Jackson, while General Butler, with a division of his army, in transports, was waiting a favorable moment to land. After the mortar-fleet had been playing upon the forts for six days and nights (without perceptibly diminishing their fire), and one or two changes of programme, Flag-officer Farragut formed the ships into two columns, “line ahead;” the column of the red, under my orders, being formed on the right, and consisting of the Cayuga, Lieut. Com. Harrison, bearing flag, and leading the Pensacola, Capt. Morris; the Mississippi, Com. M. Smith; Oneida, Com. S. P. Lee; Varuna, Com. C. S. Boggs; Katahdin, Lieut. Com. Preble; Kineo, Lieut. Com. Ransom; and the Wissahickon, Lieut. Com. A. N. Smith. The column of the blue was formed on the left, heading up the river, and consisted of the flag-ship Hartford, Com. R. Wainwright and bearing the flag of the Commander-in-chief, Farragut; the Brooklyn, Capt. T. T. Craven; the Richmond, Com. Alden; the Sciota, bearing the divisional flag of Fleet-Capt. H. H. Bell; followed by the Iroquois, Itasca, Winona, and Kennebec.

At 2 A. M. on the morning of the 24th, the signal “to advance” was thrown out from the flag-ship. The Cayuga immediately weighed anchor and led on the column. We were discovered at the boom, and, a little beyond, both forts opened their fire. When close up with St. Philip we opened with grape and canister, still steering on. After passing this line of fire, we encountered the Montgomery flotilla, consisting of eighteen gun-boats, including the ram Manassas and iron battery Louisiana, of twenty guns.

This was a moment of anxiety, as no supporting ship was in sight. By skillful steering, however, we avoided their attempts to butt and board, and had succeeded in forcing the surrender of three, when the Varuna, Capt. Boggs, and Oneida, Capt. Lee, were discovered near at hand. The gallant exploits of these ships will be made known by their commanders. At early dawn discovered a Confederate camp on the right bank of the river. Ordering Lieut. Com. N. B. Harrison to anchor close alongside, I hailed and ordered the colonel to pile up his arms on the river bank and come on board. This proved to be the Chalmette regiment, commanded by Colonel Szymanski. The regimental flags, tents, and camp equipage were captured. [199]

On the morning of the 25th, still leading, and considerably ahead of the line, the Chalmette batteries, situated three miles below the city. opened a cross fire on the Cayuga. To this we responded with our two guns. At the end of twenty minutes the flag-ship ranged up ahead and silenced the enemy's guns.

From this point no other obstacles were encountered, except burning steamers, cotton ships, fire-rafts, and the like. Immediately after anchoring in front of the city I was ordered on shore by the flag-officer to demand the surrender of the city, and that the flag should be hoisted on the post-office, custom-house, and mint. What passed at this interview will be better stated in the flag-officer's report.

On the 26th I went with the flag-officer some seven miles above the city, where we found the defences abandoned, the guns spiked, and gun carriages burning These defences were erected to prevent the downward passage of Captain Foote. On the 27th a large boom, situated above these defences, was destroyed by Captain S. Philip Lee. On the 28th General Butler landed above Fort St. Philip, under the guns of the Mississippi and Kineo. This landing of the army above, together with the passage of the fleet, appears to have put the finishing touch to the demoralization of their garrisons (300 having mutinied in Fort Jackson). Both forts surrendered to Commander Porter, who was near at hand with the vessels of his flotilla.

As I left the river General Butler had garrisoned Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and his transports, with troops, were on their way to occupy New Orleans.

I cannot too strongly express my admiration of the cool and able management of all the vessels of my line by their respective captains. After we passed the forts it was a contest between iron hearts in wooden vessels and iron-clads with iron beaks, and the “iron hearts” won.

On the 29th the Cayuga, Lieut.-Com. Harrison, was selected to bring me home a bearer of despatches to the government.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Theodorus Bailey, Captain. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

United States Gun-Boat, Cayuga, Off New Orleans, April 25, 1862.
Flag-Officer--Your boldly-conceived and splendidly-executed plan of battle having resulted in complete success, leaves me time to make up the report of my division.

You will find in Lieut.-Com. Harrison's report an accurate outline of the noble part taken by the Cayuga. under his command, and bearing my divisional flag. We led off at 2 A. M., in accordance with your signal, and steered directly up stream, edging a little to starboard, in order to give room for your division.

I was followed by the Pensacola in fine style, the remainder of my division following in regular and compact order. We were scarcely above the boom when we were discovered, and Jackson and St. Philip opened upon us. We could bring no gun to bear, but steered directly on. We were struck from stem to stern. At length we were close up with St. Philip, when we opened with grape and canister. Scarcely were we above the line of fire when we found ourselves attacked by the Confederate fleet of gun-boats. This was hot but more congenial work. Two large steamers now attempted to board, one on our starboard bow, the other astern; a third on our starboard beam. The 11-inch Dahlgren being trained on this fellow, we fired at a range of thirty yards. The effect was very destructive; he immediately steered in shore, ran aground and burnt himself up.

The Parrott gun on the forecastle drove off one on the bow, while we prepared to repel boarders, so close was our remaining enemy. About this time Boggs and Lee came dashing in, and made a finish of the Confederate boats-eleven in all.

In the gray of the morning discovered a camp with Confederate flags flying; opened with canister, and at 5 A. M. received the sword and flag of Colonel Szymanski and his command of five companies, arms and camp equipage. While engaged at this point, observed the Varuna in conflict with a number of gun-boats. She had been butted by one of them and sunk; but, with his forward guns still above water, her commander was bravely maintaining the fight, driving off his enemies and saving his crew. Informing Captain Lee, of the Oneida, who had also been engaged with the enemy, of the Varuna's situation, he instantly steamed up and made a finish of the Confederate boats. The remainder of the fleet now came up. The Mississippi had been detained below with the Manassas and another iron-clad. After this everything passed under your observation.

The pleasant duty now remains of speaking of the Cayuga and her brave officers and crew. From first to last, Lieut. Com. N. B. Harrison displayed a masterly ability in steering his vessel past the forts under a hurricane of shot and shell, and afterwards in maneuvering and fighting her among the gun-boats. I cannot say too [200] much for him. He was gallantly sustained by Lieutenant George H. Perkins and Acting Master Thomas H. Morton. These officers have my unbounded admiration.

I must, in conclusion, express the pleasure which I experienced in witnessing the seamanlike manner in which all the ships were handled. The reports of the divisional captains will inform you of the particular part borne by each ship.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. Bailey, Captain Commanding Division of the Red. Flag-officer D. G Farragut. Commander-in-Chief, etc., New Orleans.


Report of fleet-captain H. H. Bell.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, off the city of New Orleans, April 26, 1862.
Sir — On the night of the 23d instant, I went on board of the United States gunboat Sciota, Lieutenant-commander E. Donaldson, the leading vessel of the second division of gun-boats, which you did me the honor to assign to my command for the ascent of the river. At 4 A. M. of the 24th instant, the Sciota, accompanied by the division, followed in the wake of the Richmond, for passing Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

Having run safely through the batteries of the forts and rebel steamers, Captain Donaldson set fire to and burned two steamboats (one loaded with gun-carriages, the other with rosin and combustible materials). He also sent a boat's crew to take possession of an armed steamer which surrendered to him, to bring her up the river; but finding her hard and fast ashore, and under the guns of the fort, the boat returned without her. This delayed the movements of the Sciota, and brought her within half a mile of the ram Manassas, whence I witnessed the decided manner in which the noble old steamship Mississippi, Commander Melancton Smith, met that pigmy monster. The Mississippi made at her, but the Manassas sheered off to avoid the collision, and landed on the shore, when her crew escaped over her roof into the swamp. The Mississippi pelted her meanwhile with her heavy guns. After a while she slipped off the bank, and was last seen by some of the officers floating down the stream, passing the Mississippi without smoke-stack. I counted nine of the enemy's steamers of all kinds destroyed; all but two being well armed on the bow and stern.

Upon the assembling of the fleet at quarantine, I observed, for the first time, that the gun-boats Itasca, Lieutenant-commander C. H. B. Caldwell; Winona, Lieutenant-commander Ed. T. Nichols, and Kennebec, Lieutenant-commander John Russell, belonging to the second gun-boat division, were missing. As they were the three rearmost vessels of the fleet, it was apprehended that the fire of the forts and of the enemy's steamers had been concentrated upon them after the passage of the larger vessels, which had attracted and divided the fire of the enemy while they were in sight. I am happy to report none killed and only two slightly wounded in this brilliant dash of the fleet.

The Sciota, next preceded the fleet up to English Turn, and was the fourth vessel ahead in the attack on and capture of the forts at the city of New Orleans, on the 25th, and the third in passing up in front of the city. She has shared in all the active operations of the fleet to this date.

The immediate object of this expedition having been gained, I hauled down my pennant at one P. M. to-day, to resume my duties as fleet-captain on board the Hartford, having no further casualties to report.

Throughout the trying scenes of this dashing exhibition, which is second to none on record, Captain Donaldson, his officers and crew, were conspicuous for their coolness, intrepidity and good conduct. Her guns were well and skillfully handled by their crews, under the direction and careful instruction of Lieutenant H. A. Adams; Midshipman Woodward gallantly working the rifle on the top-gallant forecastle, and Act.-Master Foster the 11-inch pivot gun. Act.-Master McFarland was always at the con, and acquitted himself zealously and handsomely in the discharge of that duty.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. H. Bell, Captain of the Fleet, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, off the City of New Orleans.


Report of Commander Richard Wainwright, United States Flag-ship Hartford.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, off city of New Orleans, April 30, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this ship in the actions of the mornings of April 24th and 25th instant, off Forts Jackson and St. [201] Philip, and below the city of New Orleans.

At 3:30 A. M., on the morning of the 24th, got under way, and at 3:55 the Hartford opened fire from bow guns, engaging Fort Jackson, and receiving a galling fire from both forts. At 4.15 grounded on shoal near Fort St. Philip in the endeavor to clear a fire raft, which was propelled by a ram on our port quarter, setting fire to the ship, the flames bursting through the ports and running up the rigging, endangering the ship as much from fire, if not more, than from the guns of the enemy. Went to “fire quarters,” extinguished flames, and backed off — a heavy fire being kept up by both forts upon us all the time, and we continuing to fire in return upon them until out of

Commander Richard Wainwright, of the Hartford.

range. Passed and fired into several Confederate steamers on our way up the river.

On the 25th instant, steaming up the river, cleared ship for action at 9:30 A. M., at 11:30 discovered two batteries, one on each bank of the river, which commenced firing. We then opened fire with bow guns, and shortly were in position to use both batteries, and at first fire of the port battery drove the enemy on the right bank from his guns. After passing were fired on by riflemen. but without injury. The ship was much riddled, having received 32 shots, some of them of a serious nature. There were also two guns disabled by the enemy's fire.

I herewith enclose the reports of the heads of the different departments. We have to mourn the loss of three of our brave crew, and also had ten wounded. The guns were well worked and served, and when officers and men behave with such courage and coolness, I consider it a credit to the ship to say that it is impossible for me to individualize.

On April 26th, at 3.25 p. m., proceeded up the river to attack some batteries; at 5 went to quarters, and at 5.35 discovered two batteries, both of which, however, had been evacuated, and gun-carriages set on fire. Sent a boat to battery on left bank and spiked twenty-nine guns.

Respectfully yours,

R. Wainwright, Commander United States Ship Hartford. Flag-officer Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Captain Henry W. Morris, United States steam-sloop Pensacola.

United States Sloop Pensacola, at anchor off New Orleans, April 28, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to report the following incidents and occurrences of the conflict of the 24th and 25th of April in passing Forts Jackson and St. Philip and their adjacent batteries; also the engagement with the rebel gun-boats and the “ram,” which were stationed above those forts; also, the action with the batteries located a few miles below this city, and which latter took place on the 25th instant.

Your order to me was that this ship should, after passing the barricade below the forts, proceed to the attack of Fort St. Philip, in order to divert its fire from your division, so that you should not be exposed to the fire of both of these forts at the same time. On our arrival at the opening of the barricade the enemy opened his fire on us. We proceeded slowly through it, firing only our bow guns, until we reached a position where our broadside guns could be used; we then continued slowly on, frequently stopping and returning his fire, and sustaining that of the rebel gun-boats at the same time, until we had reached a point above that fort where its fire could no longer reach us. The ram, after having struck the Varuna gun-boat, and forced her to run on shore to prevent sinking, advanced to attack this ship, coming down on us right ahead. She was perceived by Lieutenant F. A. Roe just in time to avoid her by sheering the ship, and she passed close on our starboard side, receiving, as she went by, a broadside from us. The gun-boats of the enemy now fled up the river, and some of them were run on shore and set fire to by their own crews. We were under the fire of the enemy about two hours. We then steamed up the river to render assistance to the Varuna. We sent our boats to her to assist in [202] taking off her officers and crew, and have seven of the former and about sixty of the latter now on board.

The conduct of the officers and crew of this ship was in every respect praiseworthy, evincing coolness and courage of the highest order. The fire of the guns was kept up with all the rapidity which the circumstances of the action demanded, to insure injury to the enemy without the wasting of ammunition. The amount of damage inflicted by us on him cannot be ascertained, but I believe that it must have been very considerable. It is impossible in a night attack to do justice to each officer's merits by specifying his particular conduct in the battle, but the result of the conflict is the best evidence of the great good behaviour of them all.

I must speak of the coolness and ability displayed by Lieutenant F. A. Roe, the executive officer of this ship. His station being on the bridge next to me enabled me to witness it. My eyesight is quite defective, especially at night, and I am compelled to rely on that of others. I was, therefore, obliged to give to Lieutenant Roe the duty of directing the ship's course through the opening of the barricade, as well as the ascending of the river during the whole action. The judgment and skill shown by him in the performance of this duty cannot be surpassed. We had no pilot on board, and he performed that duty with the most remarkable ability and success. I recommend and most strongly urge upon the Navy Department the propriety and justice of promoting him to the rank of commander, as a reward for the highly important services which he has rendered in this battle. In my opinion he has fairly earned it and ought to receive it.

In the action of the 25th instant with the batteries just below the city the ship received but little injury in her hull or rigging, and none of the officers or crew were killed or wounded, I enclose herewith a report of the surgeon of the killed and wounded; also, one of the injury sustained by the ship in hull and rigging.

I am, very respectfully,

Henry W. Morris, Captain. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Captain T. T. Craven, United steam-sloop Brooklyn.

United States Steam-Sloop Brooklyn, Mississippi River, off New Orleans, April 26, 1862.
Sir — Herewith I have the honor to enclose reports from the executive officer, surgeon, gunner, carpenter and boatswain, relative to the occurrences, casualties, expenditure of ammunition, and damages on board this ship on the mornings of the 24th and 25th instant.

It becomes my duty to add that, on the morning of the 24th, soon after the action between our fleet and the forts, St. Philip and Jackson, commenced, in consequence of the darkness of the night and the blinding smoke, I lost sight of your ship, and when following in the line of what I supposed to be your fire, I suddenly found the Brooklyn running over one of the hulks and rafts which sustained the chain barricade of the river. For a few moments I was entangled and fell athwart the stream, our bow grazing the shore on the left bank of the river. While in this situation I received a pretty severe fire from Fort St. Philip. Immediately after extricating my ship from the rafts, her head was turned up stream, and a few minutes thereafter she was feebly butted by the celebrated ram Manassas. She came butting into our starboard gangway, first firing from her trap-door, when within about ten feet of the ship, directly toward our smoke-stack, her shot entering about five feet above the water-line and lodging in the sand-bags which protected our steam-drum. I had discovered this queer looking gentleman, while forcing my way over the barricade, lying close into the bank, and when he made his appearance the second time I was so close to him that he had not an opportunity to get up his full speed, and his efforts to damage me were completely frustrated, our chain armor proving a perfect protection to our sides. He soon slid off and disappeared in the darkness. A few moments thereafter, being all the time under a raking fire from Fort Jackson, I was attacked by a large Confederate steamer. Our port broadside, at the short distance of only fifty or sixty yards, completely finished him, setting him on fire almost instantaneously.

Still groping my way in the dark, or under the black cloud of smoke from the fire-raft, I suddenly found myself abreast of St. Philip, and so close that the leadsman in the starboard chains gave the soundings, “thirteen feet, sir.” As we could bring all our guns to bear, for a few brief moments we poured in grape and canister, and I had the satisfaction of completely silencing that work before I left it — my men in the tops witnessing, in the flashes of their bursting shrapnels, the enemy running like sheep for more comfortable quarters.

After passing the forts we engaged several of the enemy's gun-boats; and being at short range — generally from sixty to a hundred yards--the effects of our broadsides must have been terrific. This ship was under fire about one hour and a half. [203] We lost eight men killed, and had twenty-six wounded, and our damages from the enemy's shot and shell are severe. I should not have been so particular, sir, in recording so many of the incidents of the morning of the 24th, had I not been out of my proper station; but justice to my officers and crew demand that I should show that the Brooklyn was neither idle nor useless on that never-to-be-forgotten occasion.

In conclusion, I must here beg leave to add that my officers and crew, all, without a single exception, behaved in a most heroic manner; indeed, I was surprised to witness their perfect coolness and self-possession, as they stood at their guns while the rebels were hailing shot and shell upon us for nearly half an hour before I gave the order to “open fire.” I have to congratulate myself on being so ably assisted by my executive officer, Lieutenant R. B. Lowry. He was everywhere, inspiring both officers and crew with his own zeal and gallantry in the performance of their duty. Lieutenant James O'Kane, who had charge of the 1st division, was severely wounded soon after we commenced the action; but not until he had himself primed, sighted and fired two guns, and from loss of blood fallen to the deck, would he consent to be carried below. Lieutenant James Forney, commanding the marines, had two guns assigned him, and, with his men, fought most gallantly.

I was early deprived of the services of my signal officer and aid, Acting Midshipman John Anderson, by a shot, which cut him and the signal quartermaster, Barney Sands, nearly in two. Young Anderson was a most promising and gallant young gentleman, and had, only a few days previously, volunteered from another vessel, which had been detailed for other duty, to join this ship; he was knocked overboard and killed instantly. Immediately afterward, my young clerk, Mr. J. G. Swift, (who had been meanwhile taking notes,) asked me to let him act as my aid; and the prompt, self-possessed manner in which he performed his duty in conveying my orders elicited my highest admiration.

The conduct of Quartermaster James Buck, stationed at the wheel, merits particular mention. Early in the fight he received a severe and painful contusion by a heavy splinter; but for seven hours afterwards he stood bravely at his post and performed his duty, refusing to go below until positively ordered to do so; and on the morning of the 25th, without my knowledge, he again stole to his station and steered the ship from early daylight until 1.30 P. M., over eighit hours. I beg particularly that you will bring this man's conduct to the especial notice of the Navy Department.

On the morning of the 25th of April, as the fleet was proceeding up the river, at about a quarter-past 11 o'clock, two batteries were discovered, one on our starboard bow, and the other almost directly ahead. Signal was made from your ship to prepare for action. At this time the flag-ship was the leading vessel, the Brooklyn was the second in the line, and the Iroquois third; the others were astern, and somewhat scattered. A few minutes after your signal the Cayuga passed the Brooklyn, and so close as to compel me to hail and request her commander not to force me out of my station. She pushed on, and even passed the flag-ship.

About noon, being then one and a quarter miles distant from them, the batteries opened a raking fire upon us. The fire of starboard battery was immediately responded to by this ship, then about half a cable's length astern of the Hartford, and twenty-one shots from our 80-pounder rifled gun were rapidly, and with remarkable precision, thrown into it, only two of these shots failing to take effect. A few minutes afterward the Brooklyn, then steaming at the rate of ten knots, by the sudden sheering off and slowing down of the Hartford, for the purpose of engaging the enemy, necessarily sheered in shore, which brought her up within one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards of the port-hand battery, and so as to obstruct the fire of the Hartford. The Brooklyn then opened fire with grape and canister, stopped her engines, and, lying within less than one hundred yards of the river bank, delivered two other broadsides, which completely drove the enemy pell-mell from their guns and from the field.

In conclusion, sir, permit me to congratulate you upon this most brilliant success. The attack by our squadron upon two strong and garrisoned forts, steaming within grape and canister range, and partially silencing them, and the pursuit and destruction of almost their entire fleet of gun-boats, have not been surpassed, if equaled, by any navy in the world. Under the providence of Almighty God we have achieved a most glorious victory.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Thos. T. Craven, Captain. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Commander S. Phillips Lee, commanding United States steam-sloop Oneida

United States Steam-sloop Oneida, New Orleans, April 26, 1862.
I report the part born by the Oneida during the actions on the morning of the 24th, between 3 and 6 A. M. with Fort Jackson [204] and Fort St. Philip and the Confederate gun-boats, and in the battle of New Orleans, at noon on the 25th.

Action with forts Jackson and St. Philip.

The Oneida was, under your order, the fourth in line in the leading division, which was instructed by you to pass on the Fort St. Philip side and not to fire the port battery. Hence the port 32s were shifted to, and our pivot guns trained on the starboard side.

The enemy's fire was very heavy, and began from both forts as soon as we got within long range of their guns, which was on opening the point a mile and a half below Fort Jackson.

I found it necessary, until past the forts, to pilot and to direct all operations from the forecastle after nearing the opening in the barrier, where the Mississippi (our next ahead) seemed at a stand as if aground, on the Fort St. Philip side, when she commenced firing her port battery.

This obstruction to our passage was removed, as, caught by the current on the starboard bow, the Mississippi shot over to and rather down on the Fort Jackson side. Then the Varuna (our next astern) appeared on our port side and showed black smoke. The Oneida was steered in for the Fort St. Philip side, passed up quickly in the strong eddy, and close under the guns of that fort, (so that the sparks from its immense battery seemed to reach us.) fired rapidly bolts from two rifled guns, (we had no shell for them,) grape and canister from the forward 32s, and shrapnel from the two 11-inch pivot guns, whilst passing this long line of works. (It was. perhaps, the burning of the sulphur in our 11-inch shrapnel which occasioned the officers in Fort St. Philip to inquire after the surrender, if our shells were not filled with Greek fire.

The terrific fire from the heavy batteries of Fort St. Philip passed over us, their guns seeming to be too much elevated for our close position.

Action with the gun-boats.

When just above the forts we encountered the gun-boats and transports of the enemy. The former, it seems from the subsequent reports of our prisoners, were tied to trees along the steep bank above Fort St. Philip; thence passing over to the Fort Jackson side, these gun-boats came down to meet us. It was very thick from darkness and smoke. We had now got on the Fort Jackson side. A flash revealed the ram Manassas, gliding down our port side below our guns, and passing too close and swiftly aided by steam and the current, to enable us to bring our heavy guns to bear on her. Next came a gun-boat quite near, and passing from the Fort Jackson to Fort St. Philip side, across our bow. Ran into it with a full head of steam, and cut it down with a loud crash on its starboard quarter. Clear of our guns in a moment, it drifted down stream in the darkness. We now slowed down, and afterwards used the steam as necessary to get or keep position in fighting the gunboats, firing right and left into them as we could ascertain (from other indications than black smoke, on account of the Varuna) that we were not firing into one of our own steamers; forbore to fire into those steamers that appeared to be river transports, and ceased firing into others when they made no return.

In this manner we fired into and passed several Confederate boats on the right bank, leaving it for those who came after to pick up the prizes. A black gun-boat with two masts — a converted sea steamer — ran ahead after a brief contest. At or near daybreak we found the Cayuga on our port side. After consultation with Captain Bailey, we concluded to wait for the fleet to come up and form in order. Captain Bailey afterwards hailed that the Varuna might be ahead. Looked for her but could not make her out, and received reports from the first lieutenant and the officer on the forecastle that she was not in sight. We had steamed a mile or more ahead of the Cayuga, saw her general signal No. 80, but as there was nothing in sight of us needing assistance, supposed the signal to refer to some vessel astern of the Cayuga. Moving ahead, reconnoitering, came up with what in the gray of the morning appeared to be a fort, but which, on nearer approach, proved to be a Confederate camp on the right bank, with a large Confederate flag flying over it. Fired into it, but no reply was made, no one was seen moving, and the camp seemed deserted. Passed on, leaving the trophy flag flying, and soon received a report that the Varuna was ahead, and that the enemy was trying to board her. Went ahead with all speed to her assistance. Approaching rapidly, saw the Varuna ashore on the left bank of the river, where she had been driven by two rebel gun-boats. At 5.30 A. M., fired on one of them, the black gun-boat, our previous acquaintance, with the forcastle rifle gun. He had hoisted his jib (his wheel-ropes being gone) and was trying to escape up river, but both rebel gun-boats, finding they could not get away, ran on shore — the black one, which proved to be the Governor Moore, Commander Kennon, on the left bank, above the Varuna, and the----, (name yet unknown,) on the right bank, opposite the Varuna. with her head up stream. After we had driven them ashore their crews deserted, but not before setting fire to their vessels. [205]

With our boats captured Commander Kennon, (formerly of our navy,) one first lieutenant of artillery, one chief engineer. and fourteen of the crew of the Governor Moore; also, a rebel signal-book and some official papers, showing that the rebel gunboats were ordered to ram our vessels and to distinguish themselves by showing lights, which they must soon have found prudent to haul down. Seeing that the Varuna was sinking, sent our boats and went to her assistance. Brought on board Oneida the first lieutenant, two acting masters, two mates, and forty petty officers and seamen of the Varuna, and sent ten others, seven of whom were wounded, to the Pensacola.

The Varuna had been rammed and badly stove by both of these rebel gun-boats, which had kept with or after her up river, and she was filling, with her magazine flooded, when the Oneida drove off her assailants, prevented her officers and crew from being captured, and was received by them with loud and hearty cheers.

The Cayuga, (Captain Bailey's flag,) also cheered the Oneida heartily for opportunely coming to his support that morning.

Battle of New Orleans.

In the action of the 25th. the Oneida, being next to the Pensacola, shared in the actual engagement with Fort Chalmette, on the famous old battle-ground. The entire action lasted but 10 minutes.

The enclosed report of the surgeon shows the extent of our loss to be but three persons slightly wounded in these three actions.

Fort Jackson sent a heavy shell through our port side and coal bunker, (which was full of coal) the shell falling, and fortunately without exploding, on our berthdeck.

The gun-boats gave us one glancing shot on the starboard bow and a quantity of grape, mostly on the starboard side.

The officers and men of my command displayed courage, coolness and skill.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully yours,

S. Phillips Lee, Commanding. Flag-officer D. G Farragut, U. S. N., Commanding Western Blockading Squadron.


Report of Commander Samuel Swartwout, United States Sloop-of-war Portsmouth.

United States Sloop-of-War Portsmouth, off Pilot Town, Mississippi River, April 28, 1862.
Sir-In compliance with your orders, I got under way at 3.30 A. M. on the 24th instant, and proceeded toward Fort Jackson, in tow of the steamer Jackson, for the purpose of enfilading that fort, to draw their fire from your squadron whilst passing by. Upon arriving at the position designated by you in your directions to Lieutenant Johnson. I ordered the ship to be anchored, and had a spring run out, to breast her broadside to. I had scarcely accomplished this when a very brisk and galling fire, with shell and solid shot, was opened upon the ship from a masked water battery only a few hundred yards distant, and so completely concealed from our view that we could only judge of its location by the flashes from the Confederate guns. We returned their fire with as much precision as we could under the circumstances, but with what effect I have been unable to ascertain. After firing one round from my port battery and four rounds from my Parrot gun, the spring was shot away, and the ship swung around, so that I was unable to bring any of my guns to bear upon Fort Jackson or the water battery. By this time the rebels had got their range, and were dropping their shell and shot with great rapidity all around and close to the ship, many of them cutting away the rigging just above our heads. A 68-pounder solid shot was thrown on board, falling upon the spar deck, just under the top-gallant forecastle, tearing away the plank about ten feet, splitting one of the beams, and in its passage striking John Hancock, seaman. in the left leg, shattering it so much as to render amputation necessary. He has since died of his wound. Finding that the ship was a target for the enemy's batteries, without being able to bring my guns to bear, and, as the squadron had passed the forts, the object of my visit was accomplished, I reluctantly gave the order to slip the cable, and was soon drifted out of range of the rebel guns by the wind and tide. I cannot speak in too high praise of the bravery, coolness, and subordination of the officers and crew upon this trying occasion.

Commander Porter called to see me on the afternoon of the 24th instant, and, upon consultation, we decided that the most judicious course would be for all the vessels, with the exception of a few of his most powerful steamers, to drop down to this anchorage, under my protection, so that in case any of the rams and fire-rafts should escape his steamers this ship could arrest their progress here.

Having received the glorious tidings today that Forts Jackson and Philip have surrendered to Commander Porter, I have concluded to proceed up the river again, in order to recover, if possible, the cable and anchor which I slipped on the 24th instant, and also to render all the assistance in my power. I have just received intelligence from Ship island that Lieutenant-commander [206] Abner Read, of the steamer New London, is in a critical situation, as there are five rebel steamers preparing to attack him. I will therefore order one of our gun-boats to proceed with all dispatch to his assistance.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. Swartwout, Commander. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding United States Naval Forces, Western Gulf of Mexico.

Commander (now Rear-Admiral) Melancton Smith, of the Mississippi.

United States Steamer Mississippi, Mississippi River, April 26, 1862.
Sir — I have to report that the injuries sustained by this ship in the engagements of the 24th and 25th instant, with Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the rebel gun-boats, the ram Manassas, and the batteries below the city of New Orleans, are not of a very serious nature.

Ten shots were received, eight of which passed entirely through the ship. The ram Manassas likewise inflicted an extensive wound on the port quarters, below the water line. All these injuries can be temporarily remedied, with the exception of the latter, and the severe damage done to the outer shaft-bearing and mizzen-mast. I regret exceedingly that my disabled machinery, and a burning steamer that was drifting down upon us, did not allow me to take the Manassas in tow after her surrender, thereby preserving her intact for our own use, as the engines were still in operation when my boats, with an engineer and crew, boarded her. At this time it became necessary to recall my boats, when I directed her to be set on fire, and then so riddled her with shot that she was dislodged from the bank and drifted below the forts, when she blew up and sank.

I respectfully refer you to the accompanying report of Surgeon R. F. Maccoun for the casualties that occurred among the crew, and to the enclosed statements of the carpenter and gunner of the damages done to the vessels and the expenditure of ammunition.

I have much pleasure in mentioning the efficient service rendered by Executive Officer Geo. Dewey, who kept the vessel in her station during the engagement, a task exceedingly difficult from the darkness and thick smoke that enveloped us from the fire of our vessel and the burning gun-boats.

I would also refer, in terms of praise, to the conduct of all the officers and men under my command. As I consider that all the vessels under fire did their utmost to subdue the enemy and destroy his defences, I deem it unnecessary to enter into any further detail of the exploits performed by the Mississippi, as we all must share alike in the honor of your victory.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Melancton Smith, Commander United States Navy. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Division Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Commander Charles S. Boggs, United States steamer Varuna.

United States Steam Gun-Boat Cayuga, At sea, May 8, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to enclose herewith a duplicate of the report of Commander Boggs, late of the Varuna. and attached to my division of the attacking force. This gallant officer came up to my support when I had more of the enemy's steamers attacking me than I could well attend to. I afterwards saw him in conflict with three of the enemy's steamers, and directed Commander Lee, of the Oneida, to go to his support, which he did in the most dashing manner.

Commander Bogg's description of the loss of his vessel I believe to be accurate. I saw him bravely fighting, his guns level with the water, as his vessel gradually sank [207] underneath, leaving her bow resting on the shore and above water.

I have the honor to be your obedient servant,

T. Bailey, Captain. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

United States Gun-Boat Cayuga, May 5, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to enclose a copy (with slight verbal alteration) of the very hasty report drawn up at the last moment and sent to the flag-officer. My absence on special duty immediately after the action, and the necessity of forwarding it immediately, before the sailing of this vessel, must be my excuse for not forwarding it through you, my immediate commander, who so gallantly led the van of the division to which the Varuna was attached.

Very respectfully,

Charles S. Boggs, Commander United States Navy. Captain T. Bailey. Commanding First Division of Gun-boats.

United States Steamer Brooklyn, Off New Orleans, April 29, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to report that, after passing the batteries with the steamer Varuna, under my command, on the morning of the 24th, finding my vessel amid a nest of rebel steamers, I started ahead, delivering her fire, both starboard and port, at every one that she passed. The first on her starboard beam that received her fire appeared to be crowded with troops. Her boiler was exploded, and she drifted to the shore. In like manner three other vessels, one of them a gun-boat, were driven ashore in flames, and afterwards blew up.

At 6 A. M. the Varuna was attacked by the Morgan, iron-clad about the bow, commanded by Beverly Kennon, an exnaval officer. This vessel raked us along the port gangway, killing four and wounding nine of the crew, butting the Varuna on the quarter and again on the starboard side. I managed to get three eight-inch shells into her abaft her armor, as also several shots from the after rifled gun, when she dropped out of action partially disabled.

While still engaged with her, another rebel steamer, iron-clad, with a prow under water, struck us in the port gangway, doing considerable damage. Our shot glanced from her bow. She backed off for another blow, and struck again in the same place, crushing in the side; but by going ahead fast, the concussion drew her bow around, and I was able, with the port guns, to give her, while close alongside, five eight-inch shells abaft her armor. This settled her, and drove her ashore in flames. Finding the Varuna sinking, I ran her into the bank, let go the anchor, and tied up to the trees.

During all this time the guns were actively at work crippling the Morgan, which was making feeble efforts to get up steam. The fire was kept up until the water was over the gun-trucks, when I turned my attention to getting the wounded and crew out of the vessel. The Oneida, Captain Lee, seeing the condition of the Varuna, had rushed to her assistance, but I waived her on, and the Morgan surrendered to her, the vessel in flames. I have since learned that over fifty of her crew were killed and wounded, and she was set on fire by her commander, who burned his wounded with his vessel.

I cannot award too much praise to the officers and crew of the Varuna for the noble manner in which they supported me and their coolness under such exciting circumstances, particularly when extinguishing fire, having been set on fire twice during the action by shells.

In fifteen minutes from the time the Varuna was struck she was on the bottom, with only her top-gallant forecastle out of water. The officers and crew lost everything they possessed, no one thinking of leaving his station until driven thence by the water. I trust the attention of the department will be called to their loss, and compensation made to those who have lost their all.

The crew were taken off by the different vessels of the fleet as fast as they arrived, and are now distributed through the squadron. The wounded have been sent to the Pensacola.

I would particularly commend to the notice of the department Oscar Peck, second class boy, and powder boy of the after rifle, whose coolness and intrepidity attracted the attention of all hands. A fit reward for such services would be an appointment at the naval school.

The marines, although new recruits, more than maintained the reputation of that corps. Their galling fire cleared the Morgan's rifled gun, and prevented a repetition of her murderous fire. Four of the marines were wounded, one I fear! mortally.

So soon as the crew were saved I reported to you in person, and within an hour left in the only remaining boat belonging to the Varuna, with your despatches for General Butler, returning with him yesterday afternoon. Very respectfully,

Charles S. Boggs, Commander United States Navy. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


[208]

Report of Commander John De camp, United States steamer Iroquois.

United States Steamer Iroquois, Off New Orleans, May 3, 1862.
Sir — I beg to submit the following report respecting our engagement with Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and a fleet of Confederate steamers and rams in this river, April 24th and 25th.

The Iroquois, being on picket duty during the night of the 24th, and being about one mile in advance of the squadron. we observed the signal for action made on board the flagship at about 3 A. M. Soon after, the ship of the first division having passed ahead, we fell into our place, astern of the Sciota, and stood towards the forts. At 4 A. M. we were hotly engaged with the forts, and shortly after a ram and the Confederate gun-boat McCrea came upon our quarter and astern of us and poured into the Iroquois a most destructive fire of grapeshot and langrage, part of which was copper slugs; a great many of them were found on our decks after the action. We succeeded in getting one 11-inch shell into the McCrea, and one stand of canister, which drove her away from us. We suffered severely from the raking cross-fire of Fort St. Philip, but Fort Jackson inflicted no injury, although we passed within fifty yards of its guns.

Passing the forts, we were beset by five or six Confederate steamers. We gave each a broadside of shell as we passed, and the most of them were entirely destroyed. Four miles above the forts we captured the enemy's gun-boat “No. 3,” armed with one 24-pound brass howitzer, and well supplied with small arms, fixed ammunition, sails, etc. At this point we also captured about forty soldiers. including Lieutenant Henderson, of the Confederate army. These men were paroled and landed at New Orleans. Some of them were so badly wounded that I sent them to the hospital without parole; they will not trouble us again very soon, I think. Anchoring, by order, at 9 P. M., we were again under way at daylight on the 25th, and, in company with the squadron, stood up the river. At Chalmette we encountered two Confederate batteries, but their attempt to annoy us scarcely deserves the name of a battle. Some people on shore fired a few musket shots at us, but our marines soon dispersed them, and thus ended the battle of New Orleans.

The greatest praise I can bestow upon the officers of the Iroquois is to say that they all did their duty, and each one of them always expressed his determination to conquer. The crew and marines behaved with spirit and gallantry, which we may always expect in well drilled Americans.

Our loss in killed and wounded, I am sorry to say, is large. One master's mate and five seamen and two marines are killed, and twenty-four wounded. Mr. George W. Cole, master's mate, was killed by a cannon shot, and he died bravely, shouting to the men not to mind him, but go on with their guns.

The Iroquois is badly injured in her hull, but her masts and spars are sound, except the bowsprit and jibboom. These are hit with large shot; all our boats are smashed, and most of them are not worth repairs.

I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

John de Camp, Commander United States Navy. Flag-officer D G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, New Orleans, La.


Report of Commander James Alden, United States steamer Richmond.

United States Steamer Richmond, Off New Orleans, April 27, 1862.
Sir — In accordance with your instructions, I herewith enclose copies of the boatswain's and carpenter's reports of the damage done to this vessel by the enemy's shot during the engagement of Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the morning of the 24th instant. The list of casualties I have already forwarded to you; it is very small, there being but two killed and four wounded. Much injury to the men, I am sure, was saved by a carefully prepared “splinter netting.” At one point between the guns the netting was forced out to its utmost tension; indeed, large pieces of plank were thus prevented from sweeping the deck, and perhaps destroying the men at the guns. I would therefore recommend that in our future operations, these simple “painsavers” or “life-preservers” be adopted in the other ships of the fleet.

I must beg leave to call your attention to another simple and very effective expedient which was resorted to on board this vessel to obtain light--an element so essential in a night attack on board ship. The deck and gun-carriages were whitewashed fore and aft, and it was truly wonderful to note the difference; where before all was darkness, now side-tackle, falls, handspikes, ammunition, and indeed everything of the kind about our decks, was plainly visible by the contrast. The idea being so novel, and, at the same time, effective, I trust it will receive, through you, the notice it deserves, so that when others are driven to the dire necessity of a night attack they may have all the advantages the discovery insures. [209]

We had much difficulty in groping our way through that “fiery channel,” our ship being so slow, and the enemy was met in the “worst form for our profession,” but the hand of a kind Providence gave us the victory. No men could behave better throughout that terrible ordeal than the crew of this vessel did. My thanks for support are due to them and the officers generally. I am especially indebted to Mr. Terry, our second lieutenant, for his ready and intelligent aid in the management of the ship during the action; but to Mr. Cummings, our first lieutenant, are mainly due, as far as this ship is concerned, the handsome results of that morning. By his cool and intrepid conduct the batteries were made to do their whole duty, and not a gun was pointed nor a shot sent without its mark. My thanks are due to Mr. Bogart, my clerk, who took the place of Mr. John B. Bradley, master's mate, who was shot down at my side while gallantly performing his duty as my aid.

I am, sir, respectfully, etc.,

James Alden, Commander. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Lieutenant-commander Edward T. Nichols, United States gun-boat Winona.

United States Gun-Boat Winona, New Orleans, April 30, 1862.
Sir — I beg leave respectfully to present the following report of the operations of this vessel in the engagement with Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the morning of the 24th inst.

After getting under way, I took my station as soon as possible in the line, astern of the Itasca. and followed her red light, but suddenly found myself involved in a mass of logs and drift stuff, held by the chain and moorings of the hulks. Whilst trying to back clear the Itasca backed and fouled me on the starboard bow. After a delay of from twenty minutes to half an hour, I proceeded on my way, though I felt pretty sure that the bulk of the fleet had passed. Day was breaking fast, and my vessel was brought out in bold relief against the bright sky, presenting a fair mark for the gunners of the fort. Fort Jackson fired at me as I approached, and the first gun killed one man and wounded another; the third or fourth gun killed or wounded every man at the rifle gun except one. Judging that the burning raft was on the Fort Jackson side, I steered to pass it on the port hand, and did not discover my error until the whole lower battery of Fort St. Philip opened on me at less than point blank range. Steering off with starboard helm, I shot across to the Fort Jackson side, but, owing to the obscurity caused by the smoke, got so close to the shore that I had no room to turn head up stream, and was forced to head down. At this time both forts were firing nearly their entire batteries at me. It would have been madness to attempt turning again in such a fire; three of my men were killed, four severely wounded, and one slightly so, the vessel hulled several times, and the deck wet fore and aft from the spray of falling shot.

It was with reluctance that I gave the order to head down stream and run out of the fire, first ordering the officers and crew to lie down on deck. I cannot, sir, speak too highly of the conduct of all on board. My orders were obeyed with alacrity, and (considering the suddenness of the fire opened on us, from Fort St. Philip, and the naturally depressing effect produced by the fatality of the first few shots,) with but little confusion. Mr. Walker, the first lieutenant, was very active and vigilant, and gave his personal attention in every part of the vessel — he was slightly wounded in the ear. Permit me, sir, to call your attention to the conduct of acting-master's mate William F. Hunt, in charge of the rifle gun — it was admirable. He assisted in working his gun, as his crew was weakened, and remained at it after none were left, until ordered from the forecastle by me. Four of my wounded men are in the hospital at Pilot Town; the dead I buried on the left bank of the river, a short distance below our late anchorage.

Since the 24th I have been acting under the orders of Commander Porter, and on the 28th I had the satisfaction of receiving the surrender of Fort St. Philip and hoisting in its proper place once more the flag of our country. I was unfortunate, sir, in not passing the forts, but, I trust, not censurable.

I am, sir, very respectfully, etc.,

Edward T. Nichols, Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Blockading Squadron, New Orleans.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander Geo. H. Preble, United States gunboat Katahdin.

United States Gun-Boat Katahdin, At anchor off New Orleans, April 30, 1862.
Sir — It gives me pleasure to report that, in the passage of the forts on the morning of the 24th. and the engagement with the defences of New Orleans on the 25th. as well as on previous occasions when on advanced guard duty, and exposed to the deliberate [210] fire from the rifled cannon of the enemy, the officers and crew of this vessel have shown a bravery and cool determination worthy of all praise. While exposed to the iron hail rained over us from both forts, and the simultaneous fire of the enemy's gun-boats on the 24th, not a man flinched from his gun or hesitated in the cool performance of his duty. Where all performed so well it is, perhaps, inviduous to particularize. I may mention, however, as coming under my immediate notice, the deliberate way in which the First Lieutenant, Mr. Green, gave his general superintendence to the serving and supplying the guns, and the other duties assigned him, and the cool, collected manner in which Acting Master W. H. Polleys conned the ship between the forts and throughout, giving his orders to the helm as promptly, decidedly, and coolly as when piloting the vessel to a usual anchorage. Acting Master George Harris, in charge of the pivot gun, and Acting Master's mate, J. H. Hartshorn, in charge of the Parrott rifle gun, did their best to annoy the enemy.

At the most critical moment of the passage, and when exposed to the fire of both forts, the fire of our pivot gun was embarrassed and delayed by the shells jamming in the gun, their sabots being too large to fit the bore. As many as five shells were passed up before one could be found to fit the gun. Two became so jammed that the shells were torn from the sabots before they could be extracted, and the sabot of one had to be blown out and the gun reloaded. Mr. Harris, the master in charge of the pivotgun, attributes this serious fault, first, to the swelling of the light wood of the too nicely fitted sabot in the damp climate of this Gulf; and, second, to the shells being packed in bags instead of boxes, which allowed of the sabots getting bruised, even with the most careful handling.

The station assigned this vessel, close under the stern of the Varuna, I maintained until the dense canopy of smoke from the cannonade, aided by the night, hid everything from our view. I ordered full speed, however, to maintain my station; and seeing, by the flash from her broadside, that we were passing the Mississippi, I gave orders to cease firing for a time until we had passed her, when I became engaged with the enemy's gun-boats. Above the forts we passed along the broadside and within fifty yards of the iron-plated battery Louisiana, lying at anchor. To our surprise she did not fire at us, though she could have blown us out of water. After passing her, I directed to keep the vessel off, and give her a shot from the 11-inch pivot and Parrott, which was done, and, as Have since learned from one on board of her, with good effect, tearing a hole the size of the shell through and through the iron plating of her bow.

Until beyond the fire of the forts, acting-assistant paymaster Ladd attended in the wardroom to give his assistance to the surgeon, but later volunteered his services in boats, and brought off to the ship refugees from the burning gun-boats and the shore; he assisted, also, in disarming that portion of the Chalmette regiment which surrendered, and was encamped opposite the quarantine.

I am happy to have no casualties to report, and that the surgeon, though ready, had no opportunity to testify his skill on board. Several of the men had their clothing torn by shot or fragments of shell, but not a man was even scratched. At the request of Captain Bailey, Dr. Robinson went on board the Cayuga after the action, where he rendered efficient service to her wounded. The vessel, also, escaped without serious injury. One shell passed through the smokestack and steam escapepipe and burst, making a dozen small holes from the inside outward, and another has cut about four to six inches into the foremast, while the same, or another, cut the foresail and some of the running rigging about the foremast, which is all the damage sustained. I attribute our escaping with so little injury to our being near the head of the line, to the rapid manner in which we passed the forts, and to our passing so close under the forts that all their shot went over our heads. I believe, also, that for a time the fire of Fort St. Philip was silenced. The two shots we received, however, were from that fort.

On the arrival of the fleet at New Orleans, seeing the schooner “John Gilpin” lying at the levee on the Algiers side, loaded with cotton and surrounded by burning vessels and sunken docks, and fearing she might be fired, I boarded her and hoisted the American flag at her masthead, and brought her captain, Archibald Forsaith, (whom you afterwards released on parole,) on board as a hostage for her safety and future delivery, not deeming it prudent or safe to put. a small prize crew in possession. Captain Forsaith claimed that his vessel was British property, and that his papers were in the English consulate, but acknowledged that she was intended to run the blockade. In passing down the river since, I have noticed that a portion, if not all, of her deck load of cotton, and perhaps her remaining cargo, has been removed. Captain F. stated to me that she had 265 bales of cotton on board.

In conclusion, flag-officer, allow me to congratulate you upon the success which [211] has attended this “running of the forts,” beyond a doubt the most brilliant and daring achievement of the war.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Geo. Henry Preble, Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander C. H. B. Caldwell, United States gun-boat Itasca.

United States Steam Gun-Boat Itasca, Pilot Town, Mississippi River, April 24, 1862.
Sir — Agreeably to your instructions, I proceeded up the river, in the boat furnished from the Hartford, to make a final reconnoissance of the schooners

Lieutenant-commanding (afterwards commodore) Chas. H. B. Caldwell, of the Itasca.

on the west bank of the river, and a careful examination as to the chains that were originally stretched from them to the schooners on the starboard side, one of which we ran on shore on the night of the 20th. I succeeded in reaching them after a long, fatiguing pull against the current, without opposition or discovery, although we were directly in range between the forts and a fire lighted on the opposite shore to illuminate the reach across the river, and I could distinctly hear the voices of the rebels at Fort Jackson as they were busily engaged in some outside work. I found two of the three schooners on shore, and the outside one riding head to the current, with a number of chains hanging from her bow. I passed ahead, leaving her fifty yards on the port hand, and dropped over a deep-sea lead, veering to twelve fathoms of line. We then lay on our oars, and drifted down the stream, without feeling any obstructions. We found all the booms attached to the in-shore schooners, and a number of rafts in-shore of them, aground; the outside schooner was entirely clear. Returning, I stopped alongside of the east bank, and dropped the lead over, with fifteen fathoms of line, floating by within twenty yards of her.

Having satisfied myself fully, by these and other observations, that no obstructions whatever existed, and that the chains we slipped on the night of the 20th had disarranged and almost destroyed the whole apparatus for preventing our passage up the river, and that the condition of things was precisely as I had previously reported, and that the whole fleet could safely pass, I made with confidence and inexpressible satisfaction, on my return, our preconcerted signal that the channel was clear and everything propitious for the advance of the fleet.

I regret to be obliged to state that my progress afterwards with the fleet was attended with serious misfortune and disappointment. On arriving abreast of Fort Jackson a storm of iron hail fell over and around us from both forts, which was continued without intermission while we were under their guns. A number of shots took effect, several passing through us. One, a 42-pound shot, passed through the port side, a coal-bunker full of coal, iron-plate bulkhead, and entered the boiler, making a large hole, and breaking the dry-pipe therein; from this hole the steam rushed in a dense cloud, filling the fire and engine room, and driving every one from below, and almost suffocating those on the quarter-deck.

The loss of our motive power having destroyed our efficiency and left us almost helpless, I ordered every man to throw himself flat on the deck, the helm put hard a-starboard, and, turning, floated down the river. When out of range of the forts, I ordered the pumps manned fore and aft, and our deck was soon several inches deep with water, which was pouring also out of every scupper. Supposing the ship to be in a sinking condition, I ran her on shore below the mortar fleet, where I remained until I satisfied myself that the leak was not as bad as I had at first supposed, and then hauled off and anchored.

I am happy to state that but three men were injured during the engagement--two firemen, scalded by the steam, and the captain of the hold, wounded in the head by a splinter. I have received fourteen hits, as follows: three shot holes through the vessel below the deck, the plank-shear badly shattered, and four slight hits on the port side; one through the vessel below decks, and one through the bulwarks on the starboard side; one through the cutwater, grazing the bowsprit; one cutting away a davit span and shivering the jury mainmast (the main gaff), and one 8-inch shell exploded over the quarter-deck, driving a large piece through the port signal locker and bulwarks. One shot took out of the port side a piece of plank three feet long, shivered five feet of the next plank, crushed all of the timbers in its passage, and split one knee; another shot hole in the starboard side is nearly as bad.

Allow me, flag-officer, respectfully and sincerely, to congratulate you upon the glorious passage of the fleet, and to express to you the heartfelt sorrow and disappointment I felt that my disabled condition prevented my being a participant in its complete success; and to assure you it was owing to circumstances that Providence alone could control.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. H. B. Caldwell, Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-officer David G. Farragut, Commander-in-Chief of Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


[212]

Report of Lieutenant-Commander N. B. Harrison, United States gun-boat Cayuga.

United States Gun-Boat, Cayuga, Mississippi River, April 24, 1862.
Sir — The following extract from the log will present to you, in the briefest form, the part borne by this ship in the conflict of this morning with Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the rebel gun-boats:

At 2 A. M., in obedience to the flag-officer's signal, weighed anchor, and led the column toward the barrier, and stood up stream close to Fort St. Philip. At 3.45 both forts opened their fire. At 3.50 opened on Fort St. Philip with grape and canister. At 4 passed the line of fire of Fort St. Philip, and encountered some eleven gun-boats, no supporting ships in sight. At 4.25 one steamer surrendered, and two more were driven on shore. At this moment discovered the Varuna and Oneida dash gallantly into the fight. At 5 anchored in front of Camp Lovell, and received the submission of Colonel Szymanski and his command.

We were struck forty-two times. Both masts are so badly hurt as to be unfit for further service. Our 11-inch Dahlgren carriage struck, but still fit for duty; the smokestack perforated, but not materially injured; all other damages have been repaired. I regret to add that six of our crew have been wounded, but so far the surgeon has made but one amputation.

It is needless for me to inform you, who had us under your eye, that all did their duty fearlessly and well; but I must commend to your special notice my executive officer, Lieutenant George R. Perkins. The remarkable coolness and precision of this young officer, while aiding me in steering the vessel through the barrier and past the forts, under their long and heavy fire, must have attracted your attention. Of volunteer Acting-master Thomas H. Morton I must speak in terms of high praise. He fought the Parrott gun, and his daring example had a most happy effect on the crew.

I am indebted to Assistant Surgeon Edward S. Bogert, not only for his rapid and skillful attention to the wounded, but for his general officer-like bearing. My clerk, Mr. Charles M. Burns, Jr., was of material assistance in communicating my orders. Our engines, although generally unreliable, were, on this occasion, worked successfully by Second-assistant George W. Rogers and his assistants. In conclusion, I must mention with praise the conduct of the following men: Charles Florence, captain of 11-inch gun; William Young, captain of Parrott gun; William Parker, at the wheel; Edward Wright, at the lead.

April 25.--I continue this report through the battles of to-day. At 11 A. M., being at that moment some half a mile in advance of the flag-ship, the batteries on either hand opened on us at short range. Being pivoted to port, I edged off with the port helm and responded with our 11-inch and Parrott, slowly but with great precision of aim. This unequal contest lasted just fifteen minutes, when the flag-ship ranged up in splendid style, diverting their fire and silencing the battery on the right bank.

We were again repeatedly hulled, and much cut up in spars and rigging, arid the iron stock of the port anchor cut away. I lost no men; this I attribute to an order which I gave for the men to lie down flat during the time we could bring no gun to bear. To speak again of the constancy and devotion of my brave officers and crew would be to repeat an old story. Respectfully,

N. B. Harrison. Lieutenant-Commander. Capt. T. Bailey, Commanding the Leading Division of Gunboats, off New Orleans, Louisiana.


Report of Lieutenant Pierce Crosby, commanding United States gun-boat Pinola.

United States Steam Gun-Boat Pinola, Off New Orleans, April 26, 1862,
Sir — I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your signal on the morning of the 24th instant, after having passed your orders to the Pensacola and other vessels of the squadron, I took my position at 3.30 A. M. in line of battle next after the Iroquois, thinking the vessel which was to have preceded me had taken her's in advance, which I could not ascertain at that time, and followed on in line, passing so close to one of the enemy's hulks which had been used to hold the chain-rafts, that one starboard quarter-boat was crushed against her sides; continued on our course, and as soon as Fort Jackson bore abeam of us, about four hundred yards distant, commenced firing with the 11-inch Dahlgren pivot and Parrott rifles at the flashes of the enemy's guns, that being the only guide by which to distinguish their position, which the fort answered promptly and rapidly, but, owing to our proximity, their shot passed over, with the exception of two, one of which killed Thomas Kelly, captain of the forecastle, slightly wounding Acting-master J. G. Lloyd, the other cutting away the launch's after-davit. I then ran over within one hundred and fifty yards of Fort St. Philip, from which we received a terrific volley of shot, canister, grape, and musketry, nearly all of which passed over us. The fire-rafts, which were burning very brightly, exposed us to the full view of the enemy, and enabled them to fire at us with great precision, while we were only able to answer their forty guns with the twenty-pound rifles, the 11-inch pivot being engaged with Fort Jackson. Of those shot that struck us from Fort St. Philip, one entered our starboard quarter, cut away part of the wheel, and severely wounded William Acworth, quartermaster, who returned to his station as soon as his wounds were dressed. Acting-master's mate William H. Thompson, promptly took the wheel at the time of the disaster. The second entered the hull at the water-line on the starboard side, eight inches forward of the boilers, passed through the coal bunker, and lodged in the pump-well and cut the soundingwell in two. The third cut away the top of the steam escape pipe. The fourth cut away the starboard chain cable from the anchor, passed through the bow and yeomans' storeroom, and lodged in the port side, starting off the outside planking. The fifth struck the topgallant forecastle and carried away part of the rail. The sixth passed through the plankshear, abreast of the 11-inch pivot gun. The seventh struck a barricade of hammocks forward of the forehatch. The eighth cut away one of the dead-eyes of the starboard fore rigging. The ninth cut a bucket from the hands of Actingmaster William P. Gibbs, in charge of the pivotgun. The Tenth knocked the rammer from the hands of Harrington, loader, who soon, with the assistance of the gun's crew, made a temporary one, the spare rammer having been lost overboard at the commencement of the action. The eleventh passed entirely through the hull, immediately over the magazine, demolishing completely in its course the dispensary and its contents. The twelfth passed through the starboard and lodged in the port side of the berth-deck. These two last mentioned shot killed John Nolta and Robert H. Johnson, landsmen, and dangerously wounded Thomas Jones, wardroom steward; Thomas Ford, landsman; Henry Stokely, wardroom cook, and Thomas L. Smith, coalheaver, slightly; also, Thomas Foster, captain of the hold, who received dangerous and painful wounds from splinters while zealously performing his duty, completely disabling the powder division, there being but one man left to pass ammunition, with the exception of Acting-master's mate C. V. [213] Rummell, in charge of his division, who imnmediately gave his personal assistance, although he had been knocked down a few moments previous by splinters; and James A. Bashford, was slightly wounded by splinters. A number of other missiles grazed our sides, doing, however, but slight damage. Immediately following the disaster on the berth-deck, it was reported to be on fire, whereupon the Gunner's-mate, S. B. Frisbee, instantly closed the magazine, he remaining inside. All traces of fire having been quickly extinguished by the fireman, re-enforcements to the powder division were quickly supplied, and the guns continued their fire.

After passing the forts, and out of range of their heavy cross fire, we came suddenly in view of our squadron, which had been hidden from us by the dense smoke, and noticed at the same time a steamer on the starboard hand, which at first sight I supposed to be the Iroquois, but as day dawned and we approached nearer I soon discovered my mistake and gave her a shot from the 11-inch and Parrott rifles, both of which took effect in her hull near the water-line. At this moment the iron ram Manassas was seen following close astern of us, and being in range of our howitzers we opened fire on her with them, aiming at her smokestack. The Mississippi being near, now turned upon her and soon succeeded in driving her ashore and destroying her. In obedience to signal, I then ran up and anchored with the squadron off Quarantine Landing and sent ashore to destroy the telegraph wire, which I afterwards learned was on the opposite bank. At 9 A. M. got under way and steamed up the river, in obedience to order, in company with the Sciota. At 3 P. M. sent the dead on shore and buried them; then continued on our course in company with the squadron and anchored at----. At 3.30 we got under way and steamed up the river in company with the squadron, At 4 P. M. we opened fire with the squadron on the batteries below New Orleans, and as soon as the batteries were silenced we proceeded with the squadron up to the city, and, in obedience to orders, ran up the river to look after the iron floating-battery, which I discovered off the upper part of the city. in flames, floating down with the current. Returned to the flag-ship and received orders to destroy the batteries below the city; ran down in company with the Oneida, Captain S. P. Lee commanding, and by his directions I destroyed the battery on the port hand while he took charge of that on the opposite side. Found a large supply of ammunition, together with twelve 32 and 24-pound guns, also a 10-inch mortar, all of which we spiked, burned the carriages, threw the shot into the river, and destroyed everything belonging to the fort. After accomplishing this work, set fire to and burned a schooner loaded with combustible material lying alongside the battery, and then returned to the anchorage off New Orleans at 9.30, thus ending our operations of the 24th and 25th of April.

Our total loss was three killed and eight wounded. It gives me great pleasure and gratification to be able to bear testimony to the zeal and intrepid conduct of the officers and crew of this vessel, during the desperate conflict and terrific fire through which they passed on the morning of the 24th instant. Amid that storm of iron hail perfect order reigned; officers and men did their duty faithfully, and nobly sustained the well-earned reputation of the Navy and our glorious old flag, for which they fought so manfully.

The conduct of Thomas Gehegan, boatswain's mate and captain of the 11-inch gun, is worthy of mention, as well for the brave example he set his crew as by the faithful manner with which he served his gun, bringing up his own ammunition as soon as the men composing the powder division had been nearly all killed or wounded.

Acting-paymaster C. Stewart Warren acted as signal officer. William H. Byrn, captain's clerk, attended to passing my orders.

Dr. L. M. Lyon, assistant surgeon, displayed great zeal and promptness in his attentions to the wounded during the heat of the battle.

Senior-assistant engineer John Johnson, with his junior assistants, managed his department with skill and ability.

To A. P. Cook, first lieutenant and executive officer, I was greatly indebted for his able assistance. Throughout the entire action he was ready and prompt in the performance of his duties, displaying a coolness and gallantry which won the admiration of all.

With my earnest congratulations upon the brilliant success which has crowned your efforts and attended the forces under your command, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Pierce Crosby, Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-Officer D. G. Farragut, U. S. Navy, Commanding United States Western Gulf Squadron, Gulf of Mexico.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander George M. Ransom, United States gun-boat Kineo.

United States Gun-Boat Kineo, Mississippi River, above the forts, April 25, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to report that, on arriving close under the guns of Fort St. Philip, on the morning of the 24th instant, the firing was commenced from this vessel, and kept up briskly and effectively until we had passed entirely beyond the range of the enemy's guns from either forts or gun-boats.

Soon after the signal of the flag-ship to discontinue action, I was hailed by Commander Smith of the Mississippi, who invited me to accompany him in the pursuit of the ram. It turned immediately on the shore and was abandoned, its people escaping under a brisk fire of musketry from both vessels. I made preparations for taking it in tow by a hawser, when, the Mississippi coming between the Kineo and the ram, Commander Smith hailed, and informing me that two vessels under a point below had struck, requested me to take possession of them. I was met there by the rebel gun-boat McRea, which opened a sharp fire, backed by two other gun-boats, all within range of the guns of either fort. The Kineo returned the fire of the McRae, but was obliged to put her head up stream. Having had the slide of the pivot carriage shattered by a shot from Fort St. Philip, the gun was temporarily disabled; and not being able, with her head up stream, to bring anything to bear effectually, I was obliged, very reluctantly, to withdraw.

I have the pleasure to state, sir, that the conduct of officers and men of this vessel throughout the action was specially admirable for its steadiness, without an exception. I enclose herewith a report of Assistant-surgeon A. S. Oberly, of killed and wounded.

I have the honor to be, &c.,

George M. Ransom, Lieutenant-Commander Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander A. N. Smith United States gun-boat Wissahickon.

United States Gun-Boat Wissahickon, Off Quarantine Station, Mississippi River. April 26, 1862.
Sir — I have to report that at 2 A. M. on the 24th instant, in obedience to general signal, got under [214] way and proceeded up the river, keeping our position in the prescribed order of sailing till a detention, by running on shore and the dense smoke of the battle, already some time commenced, rendered it impossible to keep it longer. Using our battery vigorously and to the best advantage possible, we succeeded in passing the forts and water batteries under a storm of shot, shell and volleys of musketry, without loss of life or serious damage to the gunboat, which can only be attributed to the lowness of the vessel on the water.

At daylight, above the forts, we were unavoidably crowded on the west bank of the river, the ram Manassas being a short distance astern and heading for us, but unable to make much progress against the current. Before it reached us, we had fortunately gotten off, and witnessed, with great satisfaction, shortly after, its destruction by the United States steamer Mississippi.

I have to report but two of the crew slightly wounded; four round shot through the hull of the vessel, and one through the mainmast. Officers and men performed their duty nobly, and with admirable coolness. In this feeble tribute to their worth and services I desire to include Third-assistantengineer G. M. White, a volunteer from the United States steamer Colorado.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. N. Smith. Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander John H. Russell, United States gun-boat Kennebec.

United States Gun-Boat Kennebec, Mississippi River, April 29, 1862.
Sir — On the morning of the 24th instant, during the engagement, this vessel became entangled with the rafts, and struck one of the schooners (which afterwards sunk), at the same time parting the chain. I then made several attempts, in the midst of a heavy fire, to pass the batteries; but, it being daylight, and the squadron having passed above the forts, I deemed it prudent to withdraw, and reported to the senior officer, Commander Porter, who attached me temporarily to his fleet, and placed me on picket duty.

Yesterday morning, by order of Commander Porter, I proceeded up the river, in company with the United States steamers Harriet Lane and Westfield, and gun-boat Winona, to witness the surrender of the forts, after which, by order of Commander Porter, I received on board this vessel the prisoners from Fort Jackson--29 officers and 90 men.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant

John H. Russell, Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Western Gulf Blockading Squadron


Papers relating to the surrender of forts Jackson and St. Philip.


No. 69.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, off the city of New Orleans, May 1, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to forward herewith to the department all the papers relating to the surrender of Forts Jackson and St. Philip to the forces under my command.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane, April 29, 1862.
Sir — The morning after the ships passed the forts I sent a demand to Colonel Higgins for a surrender of the forts, which was declined. On the 27th I sent Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins a communication, herewith enclosed, asking again for the sur render. His answer is enclosed.

On the 28th I received a communication from him, stating that he would surrender the forts, and I came up and took possession, drew up articles of capitulation, and hoisted the American flag over the forts. These men have defended these forts with a bravery worthy of a better cause. I treated them with all the consideration that circumstances would admit of.

The three steamers remaining were under the command of Commander J. K. Mitchell. The officer of the fort acknowledged no connection with them, and wished in no way to be considered responsible for their acts. While I had a flag of truce up they were employed in towing the iron floating battery of sixteen guns (a most formidable affair) to a place above the forts, and, while drawing up the articles of recapitulation in the cabin of the Harriet Lane, it was reported to me that they had set fire to the battery and turned it adrift upon us. I asked the general if it had powder on board, or guns loaded. He replied that he would not undertake to say what the navy officers would do. He seemed to have a great contempt for them. I told him “we could stand the fire and blow up if he could,” and went on with the conference, after directing the officers to look out for their ships. While drifting down on us, the guns, getting heated, exploded with a terrific noise, throwing the shot about the river. A few moments after the battery exploded with a terrific noise throwing fragments all over the river, and wounding one of their own men in Fort St. Philip, and immediately disappeared under water. Had she blown up near the vessels, she would have destroyed the whole of them.

When I had finished taking possession of the forts, I got under way in the Harriet Lane, and started for the steamers, one of which was still flying the Confederate flag. I fired a shot over her, and they surrendered. There were on board of them a number of naval officers and two companies of marine artillery. I made them surrender unconditionally, and, for trying to blow us up while under a flag of truce, I conveyed them to close confinement as prisoners of war, and think they should be sent to the North, and kept in close confinement there until the war is over, or they should be tried for their infamous conduct. I have a great deal to do here, and will send you all papers when I am able to arrange them.

I turned over the forces to General Phelps. Fort Jackson is a perfect ruin. I am told that over 1,800 shells fell in and burst over the centre of the fort. The practice was beautiful. The next fort we go at we will settle sooner, as this has been hard to get at. The naval officers sank one gun-boat while the capitulation was going on, but I have one of the other steamers at work, and hope soon to have the other. I find that we are to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water; but as the soldiers have nothing here in the shape of motive power, we will do all we can.

I should have demanded an unconditional surrender, but with such a force in your rear it was desirable to get possession of these forts as soon as possible. The officers turned over everything in good order, except the walls and buildings, which are terribly shattered by the mortars.

Very respectfully,


[215]

Headquarters Forts Jackson and St. Philip, April 27, 1862.
Sir — Your letter of the 26th instant, demanding the surrender of these forts, has been received. In reply thereto, I have to state that no official inform-ation has been received by me from our own authorities that New Orleans has been surrendered to the forces of Flag-officer Farragut, and until such information is received no proposition for a surrender can be for a moment entertained here.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

Edward Higgins, Lieutenant-Colonel-Commanding. Commodore David D. Porter, United States Navy, Commanding Mortar Fleet.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane, Mississippi River, April 27, 1862.
Sir — When I last demanded the surrender of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, I had no positive assurance of the success of our vessels in passing safely the batteries on the river; since then I have received communications from Flag-officer Farragut, who is now in possession of New Orleans. Our troops are, or will be, in possession of the prominent points on the river, and a sufficient force has been posted on the ouside of the bayous to cut off all communication and prevent supplies.

No man could consider it dishonorable to surrender under these circumstances, especially when no advantage can arise by longer holding out, and by yielding gracefully he can save the further effusion of blood.

You have defended the forts gallantly, and no more can be asked of you. I feel authorized to offer you terms sufficiently honorable to relieve you from any feeling of humiliation,

The officers will be permitted to retire on parole with their side arms, not to serve again until regularly exchanged. All private property will be respected, only the arms and munitions of war will be surrendered to the United States government, and the vessels lying at or near the forts. No damage must be done to the defences. The soldiers will also be paroled and be permitted to return to their homes, giving up their arms. I am aware that you can hold out some little time longer, and am also aware of your exact condition as reported to us by a deserter, which convinces me that you will only be inflicting on yourself and those under your command unnecessary discomforts without any good results arising from so doing.

Your port has long been closed to the world, by which serious injury has been experienced by many loyal citizens. I trust that you will not lend yourself to the further injury of their interests, when it can only entail calamity and bloodshed without any possible hope of success or relief to your forts. Your surrender is a mere question of time, which you know is not of any extent, and I therefore urge you to meet my present proposition. By doing so you can put an end to a state of affairs which will only inflict injury upon all those under you, who have strong claims upon your consideration.

I remain, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

D. D. Porter, Commanding Mortar Fleet. Colonel Edward Higgins, Commanding Confederate forces in Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane, Mississippi River, April 30, 1862.
Sir — I enclose herewith the capitulation of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which surrendered to the mortar flotilla on the 28th day of April, 1862. I also enclose in a box (forwarded on this occasion) all the flags taken in the two forts, with the original flag hoisted on Fort St. Philip when the State of Louisiana seceded. Fort Jackson is a perfect wreck; everything in the shape of a building in and about it was burned up by the mortar shells, and over 1,800 shells fell in the work proper, to say nothing of those which burst over and around. I devoted but little attention to Fort St. Philip, knowing that when Jackson fell, Fort St. Philip would follow.

The mortar flotilla is still fresh and ready for service. Truly, the backbone of the rebellion is broken.

On the 26th of the month I sent six of the mortar schooners to the back of Fort Jackson, to look up the bayous and prevent supplies getting in. Three of them drifted over to Fort Livingston, and when they anchored the fort hung out a white flag and surrendered. The Kittatinny, which had been blockading these for some time, sent a boat in advance of the mortar vessels, and reaching the shore first, deprived then of the pleasure of hoisting our flag over what had surrendered to the mortar flotilla. Still, the fort is ours, and we are satisfied. I am happy to state that officers and crew are all well and full of spirits.

I have the honor to remain,

Your obedient servant,


United States Steamer Harriet Lane, Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Mississippi River, April 28, 1862.
By articles of capitulation entered into this twenty-eighth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, between David D. Porter, commander United States Navy, commanding the United States mortar flotilla, of the one part, and Brigadier-General J. K. Duncan, commanding the coast defences, and Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins, commanding Forts Jackson and St. Philip, of the other part, it is mutually agreed:

1st. That Brigadier-General Duncan and Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins shall surrender to the mortar flotilla Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the arms, munitions of war, and all the appurtenances hereunto belonging, together with all public property that may be under their charge.

2d. It is agreed by Commander David D. Porter, commanding the mortar flotilla, that Brigadier-General Duncan and Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins, together with the officers under their command, shall be permitted to retain their side arms, and that all private property shall be respected; furthermore, that they shall give their parole of honor not to serve in arms against the government of the United States until they are regularly exchanged.

3d. It is furthermore agreed by Commander David D. Porter, commanding the mortar flotilla, on the part of the United States Government, that the non-commissioned officers, privates, and musicians shall be permitted to retire on parole, their commanding and other officers becoming responsible for them; and that they shall deliver up their arms and accoutrements in their present condition, provided that no expenses of the transportation of the men shall be defrayed by the government of the United States.

4th. On the signing of these articles by the contracting parties, the forts shall be formally taken possession of by the United States naval forces composing the mortar flotilla; the Confederate flag shall be lowered, and the flag of the United States hoisted on the flagstaffs of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. [216]

In agreement of the above, we, the undersigned, do hereunto set our hands and seals.

David D. Porter, Commanding Mortar Flotilla. W. B. Renshaw, Commander United States Navy. J. M. Wainwright, Lieutenant-Commander Harriet Lane J. K. Duncan, Brigadier-General, Commanding Coast Defences. Edward Higgins, Lieutenant-Colonel C. S. A., Commanding Forts Jackson and St. Philip.
Witnessed by--Edward T. Nichols, Lieutenant-Commander Winona. J. H. Russell, Lieutenant-Commander Kanawha.


List of officers at Fort Jackson, Louisiana.

Headquarters Forts Jackson and St. Philip, April 28, 1862.
Brigadier-General J. K. Duncan, P. C.S. A.

Lieutenant Wm. M. Bridge, aid and inspector general.

Captain W. J. Seymour, aide-de-camp, volunteers.

Captain J. R. Smith, volunteer aide-de-camp.

Somerville Burke, assistant-surgeon, P. C.S. A.

Dr. Bradbury, volunteer-surgeon.

Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Higgins, P. C.S. A., commanding Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

Charles N. Morse, lieutenant Louisiana artillery regiment, and post-adjutant.

Wm. B. Robertson, captain Louisiana regiment artillery.

J. B. Anderson, captain Louisiana regiment artillery.

R. J. Bruce, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery, commanding company D.

E. W. Baylor, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery, commanding company H.

T. Peters, captain company I, twenty-second regiment Louisiana volunteers.

James Ryan, captain company H, twenty-second regiment Louisiana volunteers.

S. Jones, captain company I, twenty-third regiment Louisiana volunteers.

F. C. Comars, captain company St. Mary's cannoniers.

Beverly C. Kennedy, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery.

Abner N. Ogden, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery.

James W. Gaines, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery.

D. Simon, first-lieutenant twenty-second Louisiana volunteers.

George Nongesser, first-lieutenant twenty-second Louisiana volunteers.

George O. Foote, first-lieutenant St. Mary's cannoniers.

Wm. T. Mumford, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery.

Edw. D. Woodlief, second-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery.

Charles Dermers, second-lieutenant twenty-second Louisiana volunteers.

Christian Jacobs, second-lieutenant twenty-second Louisiana volunteers.

George Menn, second-lieutenant twenty-second Louisiana volunteers.

Thomas J. Royster, second-lieutenant twenty-second Louisiana volunteers.

Walter S. Jones, second-lieutenant twenty third Louisiana volunteers.

Robert Maurer, second lieutenant twenty-third Louisiana volunteers.

Minor T. Gardy, second-lieutenant St. Mary's cannoniers.

Official list:

Charles N. Morse, Lieutenant and Post-Adjutant.

April 28, 1862.
The company of St. Mary's cannoniers eighty-eight strong, also came up on the United States gunboat Kennebec.

Corporal Murray, of company E, Louisiana regiment artillery.

One private from company D, Louisiana regiment artillery.

Official:

Charles N. Morse, Lieutenant and Post Adjutant.

List of officers at Fort St. Philip, Louisiana, included in capitulation of forts Jackson and St. Philip, April 28, 1862.

M. T. Squires, captain Louisiana regiment artillery, senior officer.

Richard C. Bond, captain Louisiana regiment artillery.

J. H. Lamon, captain Louisiana regiment artillery.

Charles Assenheimer, captain Louisiana volunteers.

Armand Laityell (absent at date of capitulation), captain Bienville Guards, recruited in the parish.

J. K. Dixon, second-lieutenant C. S. A., commanding company.

Charles D. Lewis, assistant-surgeon, P. C. S. A.

Charlton Hunt, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery.

Henry W. Fowler, first lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery.

Lewis B. Taylor, first-lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery, and acting-assistant quartermaster.

W. C. Ellis, first-lieutenant regiment Louisiana. artillery.

P. Ruhl, first-lieutenant Louisiana volunteers.

Andrew J. Quigly, second-lieutenant Louisiana. regiment artillery.

Wim. B. Jones, second lieutenant Louisiana regiment artillery,

H. L. Blow, second-lieutenant C. S. A.

George House, acting-second-lieutenant C. S. A.

J. Dressell, second-lieutenant Louisiana volunteers.

J. A. Guershet, second-lieutenant Louisiana volunteers.

S. Martin, second-lieutenant Bienville Guards, recruited in the parish.

A. Chaussier, second-lieutenant Bienville Guards, recruited in the parish.

Official:

Charles N. Morse, Lieutenant and Post-Adjutant.


Disposition of prisoners captured.

No. 70.

United States Flag-Ship Hartford, at anchor off the city of New Orleans, May 1, 1862.
Sir — I have to inform the department that in consequence of my not having any suitable place to put the crews of the rebel gun-boats captured by this fleet, I have released them on parole. But having been informed by Commander Porter and others [217] that the conduct of the officers has been such as to deprive them of any claim for indulgence on our part — they having sunk two of the vessels while under a flag of truce — I have determined to send them to the North as prisoners of war, to be dealt with as the department may think proper. They will be sent in the Rhode Island.

I am, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

D. G. Farragut, Flag-officer, Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Paymaster Geo. F. Cutter (now pay director), U. S. N.


Commander Porter's detailed report.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane, Forts Jackson and St. Philip, April 30, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to lay before you a report of the proceedings of the mortar flotilla under my command since the day the vessels entered the Mississippi River.

On the 18th of March, all the mortar fleet crossed “Pass à l'outre” bar, towed by the Harriet Lane, Owasco, Westfield, and Clifton, the two latter having arrived that morning. I was ordered by Flag-officer Farragut to proceed to Southwest Pass. which I accordingly did; there we awaited orders, being at any moment ready to go to work on the forts.

As yet only the Brooklyn and Hartford had crossed the bar, a short time after the Richmond passed over, and the Mississippi and the Pensacola came from Ship Island to try their hand at getting through; there was not at the time a great depth of water, and their pilots were not at all skillful or acquainted with the bar. I volunteered my services with the steamers belonging to the mortar flotilla, and, after eight days laborious work, succeeded in getting the ships through and anchored them at Pilot Town. I do not hesitate to say, but for the exertions of Commander Renshaw, Lieutenant-Commander Baldwin, and Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright, that the two latter ships would never have got inside; the Miami, Lieutenant-Commander Harrell, also rendered assistance, but as his vessel was an unmanageable one, he could do no more than act as a steam anchor to heave the ships ahead by.

Too much praise cannot be awarded to the commanders of the Westfield and Clifton (Renshaw and Baldwin), for the exertions they displayed on this occasion; they knew that the success of the expedition depended on getting these ships over. and they never once faltered in their duty, working against adverse circumstances, and impeded by a fog of eight days duration, which obscured a vessel at the distance of fifty yards; the Harriet Lane also did all she could with her small power, and in the end the united power of these vessels succeeded in getting over the bar the heaviest vessels that ever entered the Mississippi River.

When the ships were all ready to move up, I directed Mr. Gerdes (assistant in the Coast Survey) to proceed in the Sachem and make a minute survey from Wiley's Jump up to the forts. He detached Mr. Oltmanns and Mr. Harris, the first an assistant in the Coast Survey, the latter sent out by the superintendent (Mr. Archibald Campbell) of the northwestern boundary, to perform what might be required of him; the work was performed by boats; Lieutenant-Commander Guest, in the Owasco, being detailed by me for the purpose of protecting them. These two gentlemen, Messrs. Harris and Oltmanns, performed their duty most admirably: in three days they had surveyed and triangulated over seven miles of the river, their observations taking in Forts Jackson and St. Philip; much of this time they were under fire from shot and shell at a distance of 2,600 yards, and were exposed to concealed riflemen in the bushes. On one occasion Mr. Oltmanns was fired upon from the bushes while surveying in one of the Owasco's boats, one of the balls striking an oar, but the boat's crew drove the enemy off with their rifles, and Mr. Oltmanns proceeded with his work, establishing the positions the mortar vessels were to occupy with great coolness and precision. I deem it due to these gentlemen to mention their names honorably, as a tribute to the Coast Survey--the utility of which is not properly appreciated — and as a mark of high satisfaction with them for their invaluable services.

The survey being completed, and marked positions being assigned to the vessels where their distance from the fort could be known to a yard, I brought up three of the schooners to try their range and durability at a distance of three thousand yards. I found the range satisfactory, and had no reason to doubt the durability of the mortar beds and foundation. I received but little encouragement from any one about the success of the mortars, it having been confidently predicted that “the bottoms of the schooners would drop out at the tenth fire.” I had no doubts myself about the matter, having perfect confidence in the schooners. Lieutenant-Commander John Guest guarded the Coast Survey party while they were employed, returning the enemy's fire whenever he thought he could do so with effect.

On the 16th, Flag-officer Farragut moved up the fleet, and I was told to commence operations as soon as I was ready. The schooners sailed up partly or were towed by the steamers, and on the morning of the 18th, they had all reached their positions ready to open fire. Previous to taking their places I had directed the masts to be dressed off with bushes, to make them invisible to the enemy and intermingle with the thick forest of trees and matted vines behind which they were placed; this arrangement proved to be an admirable one, for never once during the bombardment was one of the vessels seen from the forts, though their approximate position was known. As the bushes were blown away during the bombardment they were renewed, and the masts and ropes kept covered from [218] view. The place I selected for the mortar vessels was under the lee of a thick wood closely interwoven with vines, and presenting in the direction of Forts Jackson and St. Philip an impenetrable mass for three hundred yards, through which shot could scarcely pass. From our mast-heads the forts could be plainly seen, though observers there could not see us in return. The head vessel of the first division, Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith, was placed at this point, 2,850 yards from Fort Jackson, 3,680 from St. Philip; the vessels were then dropped in a line close to each other, their positions having been marked by the Coast Survey party, and Messrs. Oltmanns and Harris superintending personally that each one was acquainted with proper distance. Next to Lieutenant-Commander Smith's division of seven vessels (Norfolk Packet, Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith; Oliver H. Lee, Acting-Master Washington Godfrey; Para, Acting-Master Edward G. Furber; C. P. Williams, Acting-Master Amos R. Langthorne; Arletta, Acting-Master Thomas E. Smith; William Bacon, Acting-Master William P. Rogers; Sophronia, Acting-Master Lyman Bartholomew) was placed the six vessels of the third divison, under Lieutenant-Commander K. R. Breese (John Griffith, Acting-Master Henry Brown; Sarah Bruen, Acting-Master Abraham Christian; Racer, Acting-Master Alvin Phinney; Sea Foam, Acting-Master Henry E. Williams; Henry James, Acting-Master Lewis W. Pennington; Dan Smith, Acting-Master George W. Brown), and one vessel, the Orvetta, Acting-Master Blanchard, all lying in line close together.

All the vessels mentioned were anchored and secured to spring their broadsides, as occasion might require. In the meantime, Lieutenant-Commander John Guest was sent ahead in the Owasco to clear the bushes of riflemen which had been found to lurk there, and cover the vessels from the fire of the forts, when it should open; the Westfield, Clifton, and Miami being engaged in towing the vessels to their posts.

I placed six vessels of the second division, under command of Lieutenant W. W. Queen, on the northeast shore of the river, the headmost one 3,680 yards from Fort Jackson, to which the division was directed to turn its attention. The following vessels composed this division:

T. A. Ward, W. W. Queen, commanding second division.

M. J. Carlton, Charles E. Jack, acting-master.

Matthew Vasser, Hugh H. Savage, acting-master.

George Mangham, John Collins, acting-master.

Orvetta, Francis E. Blanchard, acting-master.

Sydney C. Jones, J. D. Graham, acting-master.

When the divisions were all placed, signal was made to “commence action,” and they opened in order, each one firing every ten minutes. The moment the mortars opened, Forts Jackson and St. Philip responded with all their guns that could bear, but for some time did not appear to get the right range; the hulls of the vessels on the northeast shore, being covered with reeds and willows, deceived them somewhat, though their shot and shell went over. The fire of the enemy was rapid, and, as the shell and shot began to grow rather hot, I sent to the flag-officer, asking that some of the gun-boats should be sent to draw their fire. For one hour and fifty minutes Lieutenant-Commander Guest had, at the head of the mortar fleet, borne the fire of the forts uninjured, and only left there to get a supply of ammunition. After I went on board his vessel and ordered him to retire, the mortar vessels having been re-enforced by the gunboats sent up by the flag-officer, by midday the fire on the vessels on the northeast shore (Lieutenant-Commander Queen's division) became so rapid, and the shot and shell fell so close, that I went on board to remove them. One large 120-pound shell had passed through the cabin and damaged the magazine of Lieutenant-Commander Queen's vessel, the T. A. Ward, coming out near the waterline, her rigging was cut, and shot flying over her fast. The George Mangham, Acting-Master John Collins, had received a 10-inch shot near her waterline, so I moved them both (contrary to the wishes of the officers) two hundred yards further astern, throwing the enemy out of his range, which he did not discover for two or three hours. At five o'clock in the evening the fort was discovered to be in flames, and the firing from the enemy ceased. We afterwards learned that the citadel had been fired by our bombshells, and all the clothing of the troops and commissary stores had been burnt up, while great distress was experienced by the enemy, owing to the heat and danger to the magazine. Had I known the extent of the fire, I should have proceeded all night with the bombardment; but the crew had had nothing to eat or drink since daylight. I knew not how much the mortar beds and vessels might have suffered. Night firing was uncertain, as the wind had set in fresh, and not knowing how long a bombardment I might have to go through with, I deemed it best to be prudent. A little after sunset I ordered the firing to cease, and made the only mistake that occurred during the bombardment. The fire in the fort blazed up again at night, but I thought it one of the fire-rafts they lighted up every night at the fort.

The first and third divisions, under Lieutenants-Commanding Smith and Breese, acquitted themselves manfully that day, and though the shot and shell fell thick about them, behaved like veterans. We fired on this day over 1,400 shells, many of which were lost in the air, owing to bad fuses. No accident of any kind occurred from careless firing, and after a careful examination the vessels and mortarbeds were found to be uninjured. On that night, at two o'clock, I ordered Lieutenant-Commander Queen to drop out of the line of fire, and I placed him on the south shore in a safer and closer position, though not one where he could work to such good advantage, the fort being plainly visible from his late position, and the effect of the shells could be more plainly noted. On the south shore, the pointing of the mortars could only be done from sights fixed to the mastheads, and many curious expedients were resorted to to obtain correct firing, expedients very creditable to the intelligence of the commanders of the vessels. We heard afterwards that our first day's firing had been more accurate than that of any other day, though it was all good.

On the morning of the 19th, we opened fire on the enemy again, when he tried his best to dislodge us from behind our forest protection, without effect; our fire was kept up as rapidly as the men could carefully and properly load, the enemy returning it with what heavy guns he could bring to bear on us, most of his shot going over us amongst the shipping and gun-boats, which were on guard and employed drawing the fire away from us. About nine o'clock on the second morning the schooner “Maria J. Carleton,” Charles Jack, master, was sunk by a rifle-shell passing down through her deck, magazine, and bottom. I happened to be alongside at the time and had nearly all her stores saved, also the arms. As she went down, the mortar was fired at the enemy for the last time, and that was the last of the Carleton We hauled her on to the bank when we found that she was sinking, and were thus enabled to save many of her stores; but she finally slipped off the bank into deeper water, and nothing was left visible but her upper rail. Two men were wounded in the Carleton. Acting-Master Charles Jack came out in this vessel from New York; he lost his mainmast in a gale off Cape Hatteras. but persevered until he arrived at Key West. and sailed with the flotilla to Ship Island [219] He went through another gale, but got into port safe. He was almost always up with the rest in working up the river under sail with his one mast; and when his vessel sunk he volunteered his services on board the vessel of Lieutenant-Commander Queen, to whose division he belonged. On the second day the firing from the forts was rather severe on the masts and rigging of the first division. I wanted to remove them a little further down, but was prevented from doing so at the request of Lieutenant-Commander Smith, who seemed determined not to withdraw until something was sunk. He had one man killed in the Arletta, Acting-Master Smith, by a ten-inch shot striking between the stop of the mortar bed and the mortar, which disabled it for a time only; it was repaired in two or three hours, the men meanwhile under fire, without any occupation to keep up their interest. One or two men were wounded this day. We had another conflagration in the fort, the shells having set fire to some quarters put up for officers on the northwest angle of the works; they were all consumed. The firing seemed to be good this day, though some said the shells went over, and others said they fell short. The proof of accuracy was that the batteries were silenced every time the shells were concentrated on any one point. The fuses being so bad, I gave up the plan of timing them, and put in full-length fuses, to burst after they had entered the ground. In some respects this was disadvantageous, but we lost but few by bursting before time in the air. The ground being wet and soft, the shells descended 18 or 20 feet into the ground, exploding after some time, lifted the earth up, and let it fall back into its place again, not doing a great deal of harm, but demoralizing the men, who knew not what the consequences might be. The effect, I am told, was like that of an earthquake. When the shells hit the ramparts they did their work effectually, knocking off large pieces of the parapet and shattering the casemates. On the third and fourth day the ammunition on board began to grow short, and the steamers had to be sent down to bring it up, the boats of the squadron also assisting all they could, in the strong current, to supply the vessels. The steamers lay close to the mortar vessels while the shot and shell were flying all about; but strange to say, not a vessel was struck, though I expected to see some of them injured. The employment of them in that way could not be avoided. Everything was conducted with the greatest coolness, and the officers and men sat down to their meals as if nothing was going on — shells bursting in the air and falling alongside, and shot and rifle-shell crashing through the woods and tearing up trees by the roots. On the fifth day, the fire from the forts on the head of the first division was very rapid and troublesome. One hundred and twenty-five shots fell close to the vessels in one hour and thirty minutes, without, however, doing them any damage beyond hitting the “Para,” the headmost vessel, and cutting up the rigging and masts. The fire of the enemy had been attracted to the mastheads of one of the large ships which had been moved up, and which they could see over the woods. I deemed it prudent to move three of them two or three lengths, much to the annoyance of the officers, who seemed indisposed to yield an inch. Still, my duty was to look out for the vessels and not have them destroyed. The Norfolk Packet got a piece of a shell through her decks, and had her rigging and crosstrees cut away, and one man wounded. For three days and nights the officers and men had had but little repose and but few comfortable meals, so I divided the division into three watches of four hours each, firing from one division about 168 times a watch, or altogether, during 24 hours, 1,500 shells. This I found rested the crews and produced more accurate firing. Overcome with fatigue, I had seen the commanders and crews lying fast asleep on deck, with a mortar on board the vessel next to them, thundering away and shaking everything around them like an earthquake. The windows were broken at the Balise, thirty miles distant. It would be an interminable undertaking, sir, if I were to attempt to give a minute account of all the hard work performed in the flotilla, or mention separately all the meritorious acts and patient endurance of the commanders and crews of the mortar vessels. All stuck to their duty like men and Americans; and though some may have exhibited more ingenuity and intelligence than others, yet the performance of all commanded my highest admiration. I cannot say too much in favor of the three commanders of divisions, Lieutenants Watson Smith, W. W. Queen, and K. R. Breese. I can only say I would like always to have them at my side in times of danger and difficulty. They were untiring in their devotion to their duties, directing their officers, who could not be supposed to know as much about their duties as they did. I left the entire control of these divisions to themselves, trusting implicitly that they would faithfully carry out the orders which I had given them previous to the bombardment, and knowing that no powder or shell would be thrown away if they could help it. The end justified my confidence in them. During a bombardment of six days they were constantly exposed to a sharp fire from heavy guns. If they sustained no serious damage to their vessels it was no fault of the enemy, who tried his best to destroy them, and who, after I had withdrawn the vessels of Lieutenant-Commander Queen from a very exposed position, reported that he had sunk them.

After bombarding the fort for three days, I began to despair of taking it, and, indeed, began to lose my confidence in mortars, but a deserter presented himself from Fort Jackson, and gave me such an account of the havoc made by our mortar practice that I had many doubts at first of his truth; he represented hundreds of shells falling into the fort, casemates broken in, citadel and out-buildings burnt, men demoralized and dispirited, magazine endangered, and the levee cut; we went to work with renewed vigor, and never flagged to the last.

On the night of the 20th, an expedition was fitted out, under Commander Bell, for the purpose of breaking the chain; it was composed of the gunboats Pinola and Itasca; it was arranged that all the mortars should play upon the fort while the operation was going on, which they did as fast as they could safely load and fire, nine shells being in the air frequently at one time. The vessels were discovered, and the forts opened fire on them at a distance of three and eight hundred yards. Lieutenant Crosby informed me that but for the rapid and accurate fire of the mortars the gun-boats would have been destroyed. The mortars silenced the batteries effectually, and Colonel Higgins ordered the men into the casemates, where they were in no way loath to go. These facts have been obtained from prisoners. The Itasca, Lieutenant Caldwell, slipped the chain of one vessel, and was swept ashore by the current, when the Pinola, Lieutenant-Commander Crosby, got her off, both remaining in that position over thirty minutes, though seen by the enemy and seldom fired at.

On the 23d, I urged Flag-officer Farragut to commence the attack with the ships at night, as I feared the mortars would not hold out, the men were almost overcome with fatigue, and our supply ships laid a good way off. The enemy had brought over two heavy rifle guns to bear on the head of our line, and I was aware that he was daily adding to his defenses and strengthening his naval forces with ironclad batteries. The 23d was appointed, but the attack did not come off. I had fortunately dismounted with a shell, on that day, the heaviest rifle gun they had on St. Philip, breaking it in two, [220] and it annoyed us no more. I did not know it at the time, but thought the ammunition had given out. On the 23d, the order was given to move at 2 o'clock, in the order which the flag officer will mention in his report. The steamers belonging to the mortar flotilla were assigned the duty of enfilading a heavy water battery of six guns and the barbette of guns which commanded the approach to the forts; and the mortars having obtained good range during the day, were to try and drive the men from the guns by their rapid fire, and bursting shell over the parapets. The flotilla steamers, composed of the Harriet Lane, Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright, leading; Westfield, Commander Renshaw; Owasco, Lieutenant-Commander Guest; Clifton, Lieutenant-Commander Baldwin, and Miami, Lieutenant-Commander Harrell, moved up (when the flag-officer lifted his anchor), 70 fathoms apart, and took position under the batteries; the leading vessel 500 yards off, the others closing up as the fire commenced. Then, as soon as the Hartford, Brooklyn and Richmond passed, they opened with shrapnel on the forts, having received the fire ten or fifteen minutes before replying to it. As the fire was high, and they were close in shore, nearer the forts than the enemy supposed, they occupied, as it turned out, a safer position than the vessels further out, there being only one killed and one wounded on board the Harriet Lane, while the other steamers remained untouched. The commanders of all the vessels on this occasion did their duty, coolly kept their vessels close up, fired rapidly and accurately, and the signal was not made to retire until the last vessel of our gallant squadron passed through the flames, which seemed to be literally eating them up; every man, spar or rope was plainly seen amid the light, and every movement of the ships noted; that last vessel, the gallant Iroquois, would provokingly linger and slow her engines opposite the forts to give the rebels a taste of her formidable battery. When she also disappeared in the smoke, our signal was hung out to retire, our duty having been accomplished, and the fort turning its entire attention to our little force. It could not, however, do us much harm. as the rain of mortar shells almost completely silenced them; never in my life did I witness such a scene, and never did rebels get such a castigation. Colonel Higgins ordered the men from the batteries into the casemates to avoid the mortar shells, which fell with particular effect on that night, while grapeshot and shrapnel from the ships gave them but few opportunities to fire from their casemates. The ships had gone by, the backbone of the rebellion was broken, the mortars ceased their fire, and nothing was heard for a time but the booming of guns as our fleet went flying up the river, scattering the enemy's gun-boats and sinking them as they passed. We all sat down to rest and speculate on the chances of seeing our old friends and brother officers again.

I was very hopeful myself, for I knew that the enemy had been too much demoralized during the last week by mortar practice to be able to stand against the fire of our ships. I gave the ships, when they started, forty-five minutes to pass the forts: they were only seventy from the time they lifted their anchors. I lost the services of a well armed and useful vessel, the Jackson, for the attack on the batteries. Her commander, Lieutenant-Commander Woodworth, during the affair was appointed to tow the Portsmouth ahead of t he mortar steamers, but was carried down the stream. He persisted, however, in taking her into her berth after the battle was over and the steamers had retired, and anchored her, I believe, within nine hundred yards of the fort. His reception and that of the Portsmouth was a warm one, for the east batteries opened fire upon them; and, after escaping miraculously, the Portsmouth, with some shots in her hull and rigging, and one or two killed and wounded, coolly drifted out from under the guns and took her old position. Had the rebels not been overcome with despair she would have fared badly.

Immediately on the passage of the ships I sent Lieutenant-Commander Guest up with a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of the forts. The flag of truce was fired on, but apologized for afterwards. The answer was, “The demand is inadmissible.” Giving the men that day to rest, I prepared to fill up the vessels with ammunition and commence the bombardment again. Having in the meantime heard from Flag-officer Farragut that he had safely passed the batteries, I determined to make another attempt on these deluded people in the forts to make them surrender, and save the further

Captain J. L. Broome (now Lieut. Col.), Marine Corps.

effusion of blood. Flag-officer Farragut had unknowingly left a troublesome force in his rear, consisting of four steamers and a powerful steam battery of four thousand tons and sixteen guns. all protected by the forts. I did not know in what condition the battery was, only we had learned that she had come down the night before, ready prepared to wipe out our whole fleet. If the enemy counted so surely on destroying our whole fleet with her, it behooved me to be prudent, and not let the mortar vessels be sacrificed like the vessels at Norfolk. I commenced, then, a bombardment on the ironclad battery, supposing it lay close under Fort Jackson, and also set the vessels to work throwing shells into Fort Jackson again, to let them know that we were still taking care of them; but there was no response: the fight had all been taken out of them. [221] I sent the mortar vessels below to refit and prepare for sea, as also to prevent them from being driven from their position in case the iron battery came out to attack them. I felt sure that the steamers alone could manage the battery. Six of the schooners I ordered to proceed immediately to the rear of Fort Jackson and blockade all the bayous, so that the garrison could not escape or obtain supplies. I sent the Miami and Sachem to the rear of Fort St. Philip, to assist in landing troops. These vessels all appeared at their destination at the same time, and, when morning broke, the enemy found himself hemmed in on all sides. It was a military necessity that we should have the forts. Our squadron was cut off from coal, provisions, and ammunition; our soldiers had but little chance to get to New Orleans through shallow bayous; the enemy in the city would hesitate to surrender while the forts held out; communication was cut off between them, and neither party knew what the other was willing to do. So I demanded a surrender again, through Lieutenant-Commander Guest, offering to let them retain their side-arms and engage not to serve against the United States during the rebellion until regularly exchanged, provided they would honorably deliver up, undamaged, the forts, guns, muskets, provisions, and all munitions of war, the vessels under the guns of the fort, and all other public property. The answer was civil, and hopes were held out that, after being instructed by the authorities of New Orleans, they would surrender. In the meantime their men became dissatisfied at being so surrounded; they had no hope of longer holding out with any chance of success, and gave signs of insubordination. On the 28th, a flag of truce came on board the Harriet Lane, proposing to surrender Jackson and St. Philip on the terms proposed, and I immediately proceeded to the forts, with the steamers Westfield, Winona, and Kennebec in company, and sent a boat for General Duncan and Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins, and such persons as they might see fit to bring with them. These persons came on board, and, proceeding to the cabin of the Harriet Lane, the capitulation was drawn up and signed, the original of which I have had the honor of forwarding to the department by Captain Bailey, no opportunity occurring to send it through Flag-officer Farragut, without loss of time. The officers late commanding the forts informed me that the vessels would not be included in the capitulation, as they (the military) had nothing to do with the naval officers, and were in no way responsible for their acts. There was evidently a want of unanimity between the different branches of the rebel service. I afterwards found out that great ill feeling existed, the naval commander having failed, in the opinion of the military, to co-operate with the forts; the true state of the case being that they were both sadly beaten, and each laid the blame on the other. While engaged in the capitulation, an officer came below and informed me that the iron floating battery (the Louisiana) had been set on fire by two steamers which had been lying alongside of her. This was a magnificent iron steam floating battery of four thousand tons and mounting sixteen heavy guns, and perfectly shot-proof. She had been brought down from New Orleans the day before, and on it the hopes of their salvation seemed to depend, as will appear by the following letter from General Duncan, taken in the fort:

Fort Jackson, Louisiana, April 22, 1862.
Captain — Your note of this date relative to the steamer Louisiana, the forwardness of her preparations for attack, the disposition to be made of her. etc., has been received.

It is of vital importance that the present fire of the enemy should be withdrawn from us, which you alone can do. This can be done in the manner suggested this morning, under the cover of our guns, while your work on the boat can still be carried on in safety and security. Our position is a critical one, dependent entirely on the powers of endurance of our casemates, many of which have been completely shattered, and are crumbling away by repeated shocks, and therefore I respectfully, but earnestly, again urge my suggestions of this morning upon your notice. Our magazines are also in danger.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. K. Duncan. Brigadier-General. Captain J. K. Mitchell, Commanding Naval Forces, Lower Mississippi River.

I was in hopes of saving this vessel as a prize, for she would have been so materially useful to us in all future operations on the coast, her batteries and strength being sufficient to silence any fort here, aided by the other vessels. Seeing her lying so quiet, with colors down and the two steamers under our guns, I never dreamed for a moment that they had not surrendered. The forts and ourselves had flags of truce flying, and I could not make any movement without violating the honor of the United States and interrupting the capitulation which was being drawn up. The burning of the vessels was done so quietly that no one suspected it until the battery was in a blaze. I merely remarked to the commanders of the forts that the act was in no way creditable to the rebel commander. The reply was, “We are not responsible for the acts of these naval officers.” We proceeded with the conference, and while so engaged an officer came to inform me that the ironclad battery was all in flames and drifting down on us, having burnt the ropes that had fastened her to the bank. I inquired of the late commanders of the forts if they knew if the guns were loaded, or if she had much powder on board. The answer was, “I presume so, but we know nothing about the naval matters here.” At this moment the guns, being heated, commenced going off, with a probability of throwing shot and shell amidst friend and foe. I did not deign to notice it further than to say to the military officers, “If you don't mind the effects of the explosion which is soon to come, we can stand it.” If the ever memorable Commander Mitchell calculated to make a stampede in the United States vessels by his infamous act, he was mistaken; none of them moved or intended to move, and the conference was carried on as calmly as if nothing else was going on, though proper precautions were taken to keep them clear of the burning battery. A good Providence, which directs the most unimportant events, sent the battery off towards Fort St. Philip, and as it got abreast of that formidable fort it blew up with a force which scattered the fragments in all directions, killing one of their own men in Fort St. Philip, and when the smoke cleared off it was nowhere to be seen, having sunk immediately in the deep water of the Mississippi. The explosion was terrific, and was seen and heard for many miles up and down the river. Had it occurred near the vessels it would have destroyed every one of them. Ths, no doubt, was the object of the arch-traitor who was the instigator of the act. He failed to co-operate, like a man, with his military confederates, who looked to the means he had at his disposal to save them from destruction, and who scorned alike his want of courage in not assisting them, as well as the unheard of and perfidious act which might, in a measure, have reflected on them.

How different was the course of the military commanders, who, though engaged in so bad a cause, behaved honorably to the end. Every article in the fort was delivered up undamaged. Nothing [222] was destroyed, either before the capitulation or while the capitulation was going on, or afterwards. The most scrupulous regard was paid to their promises. They defended their works like men, and had they been fighting for the flag under which they were born instead of against it, it would have been honor enough for any man to have said he had fought by their side.

After the capitulation was signed, I sent Commander W. B. Renshaw to Fort Jackson, and Lieutenant-Commander Ed. Nichols to Fort St. Philip to receive the surrender of the forts. The rebel flag was hauled down and the stars and stripes once more floated over the property of the United States. The sun never shone on a more contented and happy looking set of faces than those of the prisoners in and about the forts. Many of them had not seen their families for months, and a large portion had been pressed into a service distasteful to them, subject to the rigor of a discipline severe beyond measure. They were frequently exposed to punishments, for slight causes, which the human frame could scarcely endure, and the men who underwent some of the tortures mentioned on a list of punishments I have in my possession, must have been unable afterwards to do any duty for months to come. Instead of the downcast countenances of conquered people, they emerged from the fort (going home on their parole) like a parcel of happy school-boys in holiday times, and no doubt they felt like them also.

When the flags had been exchanged, I devoted my attention to Commander Mitchell, who was lying a half mile above us with three steamers, one of which he had scuttled. Approaching him in the Harriet Lane, I directed Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright to fire a gun over him, when he lowered his flag. I then sent Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright on board to take possession and receive the unconditional surrender of the party, consisting of fourteen naval officers and seven engineers, temporarily appointed; the crew of the ironclad battery consisted of three hundred men and two companies of marine artillery, nearly all from civil life, and serving much against their will, so they said. Commander Mitchell and the other naval officers were transferred to the Westfield as prisoners of war, and as soon as time would allow, the marines and sailors were sent in one of the captured vessels to Flag-officer Farragut, at New Orleans. The captured military officers were sent up to New Orleans on their parole, and thus ended the day on which the great Mississippi rejoiced once more in having its portals opened to the commerce of the world. From the appearance and talk of the soldiers, we might soon hope to see the people united again under the folds of the flag of the Union. While the capitulation was going on I sent the steamer Clifton down to bring up troops, and when General Phelps came up I turned the forts, guns, and munitions of war over to his keeping. My next step was to visit Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Never in my life did I witness such a scene of desolation and wreck as the former presented. It was plowed up by the thirteen-inch mortars, the bombs had set fire to and burnt out all the buildings in and around the forts; casemates were crushed and were crumbling in, and the only thing that saved them were the sandbags that had been sent from New Orleans during the bombardment, and when they began to feel the effects of the mortars. When the communication was cut off between them and the city, this resource of sandbags could avail them no longer. It was useless for them to hold out; a day's bombardment would have finished them ; they had no means of repairing damages; the levee had been cut by the thirteen-inch bombs in over a hundred places; and the water had entered the casemates, making it very uncomfortable, if not impossible to live there any longer. It was the only place the men had to fly to out of reach of the bombs. The drawbridge over the moat had been broken all to pieces, and all the causeways leading from the fort were cut and blown up with bombshells, so that it must have been impossible to walk there or carry on any operations with any degree of safety. The magazine seems to have been much endangered, explosions having taken place at the door itself, all the cotton bags and protections having been blown away from before the magazine door. Eleven guns were dismounted during the bombardment, some of which were remounted again and used upon us. The walls were cracked and broken in many places, and we could scarcely step without treading into a hole made by a bomb-shell; the accuracy of the fire is, perhaps, the best ever seen in mortar practice; it seems to have entirely demoralized the men and astonished the officers. A water battery, containing six very heavy guns, and which annoyed us at times very much, was filled with the marks of the bombs, no less than 170 having fallen into it, smashing in the magazine, and driving the people out of it. On the night of the passage of the ships this battery was completely silenced, so many bombs fell into it and burst over it. It had one gun in it, the largest I have ever seen, made at the Tredegar works. I would not pretend to say how many bombs fell in the ditches around the works, but soldiers in the forts say about three thousand; many burst over the works, scattering the pieces of shell all around. The enemy admit but fourteen killed and thirty-nine wounded by the bombardment, which is likely the case, as we found but fourteen fresh graves, and the men mostly staid in the casemates, which were three inches deep with water and very uncomfortable. Many remarkable escapes and incidents were related to us as having happened during the bombardment. Colonel Higgins stated an instance where a man was buried deep in the earth by a bomb striking him between the shoulders, and directly afterwards another bomb exploded in the same place, and threw the corpse high in the air. All the boats and scows around the ditches and near the landing were sunk by bombs; and when we took possession the only way they had to get in and out of the fort to the landing was by one small boat to ferry them across. All the lumber, shingles, and bricks used in building or repairs were scattered about in confusion and burnt up, and every amount of discomfort that men could bear seemed to have been showered upon those poor deluded wretches.

I was so much struck with the deserted appearance of what was once a most beautiful spot, that I ordered Mr. Gerdes and his assistants on the Coast Survey to make me an accurate plan of all the works, denoting every bomb that fell, and (as near as possible) the injury the fort had sustained, every distance being accurately measured by tape-line and compass, and the comparative size of fractures noted. The work has been executed with great zeal and accuracy, though it will only give a faint idea of the bombs that fell about the fort; many are lost sight of in the water which has been let in by the cut levees; many burst over the fort; but enough have been marked to indicate the wonderful precision of fire and the endurance of the forts. Had the ground been hard instead of being soft mud, the first day's bombardment would have blown Fort Jackson into atoms; as it is, it is very much injured, and will require thorough repair before it can be made habitable.

Fort St. Philip received very little damage from out bombs, having fired at it with only one mortar, and that for the purpose of silencing a heavy rifled gun which annoyed us very much; we were fortunate enough to strike it in the middle, and break it in two, and had not much more annoyance from that fort; two guns were capsized by a bomb at [223] one time, but without injuring them; they were soon replaced; some trifling damage was done to the works, though nothing to affect the efficiency of the batteries; it was from Fort St. Philip that our ships suffered most, the men and officers there, having had, comparatively, an easy time of it. I felt sure that St. Philip would surrender the moment Jackson hauled down the secession flag, and consequently directed all the attention of the mortar schooners to the latter fort. The final result justified me in coming to this conclusion.

I trust that you will excuse me, sir, for dwelling so minutely on matters relating to this important victory, though I have endeavored to make my report as short as possible.

Every little incident in this ever to be remembered drama will be interesting to the true lovers of our Union, who will rejoice over the fact that the great river which is the main artery of our country is once more in our possession, and that we may soon hope to see the stars and stripes floating over every hut and hamlet along its banks. It only remains for me, sir, to do justice to the officers who have been under my command during this arduous and sometimes unpleasant service. Commander Renshaw, Lieutenant-Commander Guest, Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright, Lieutenant-Commander Harrell, Lieutenant-Commanding Bald win, Lieutenant-Commander Woodworth, are the officers commanding steamers connected with the flotilla. Their duties were various and arduous — towing, supplying, and getting under the guns of the fort when opportunities offered, or they were permitted to expose their vessels. In the attack on the water batteries Lieutenant-Commander Wainwright commanded the Harriet Lane (as I noticed) coolly and bravely; and his officers and crew did their duty, all the vessels lying quietly under the heavy fire for fifteen minutes, until it was time to open their batteries, which they did with effect, until the time came to retire. Commander Renshaw made his rifle gun tell with effect, keeping his vessel in close order. Lieutenant-Commander Guest, with his zealous crew, who had fired over 200 shell at the forts at different times, kept his shell flying as fast as usual, bursting (as I witnessed) with good effect in the midst of the batteries. Lieutenant-Commander Bald win, whom I have always found ready for any duty, no matter how arduous or thankless, was in no way behind any one; his heavy battery of nine-inch and thirty-two-pounders rattled through the outer works of the fort, helping to keep Jackson quiet while our heavy ships were forcing their way through logs chained together, fire-rafts, rams, to say nothing of the enemy's gun-boats, iron batteries, and forts built to dispute the passage of any fleet which might be sent against them. The steamer Jackson, Lieutenant-Commanding Woodworth, towed the Portsmouth gallantly into fire, though his position was more gallantly than wisely taken; he was fortunate that his vessel and the Portsmouth were not cut to pieces. I have been so struck with the energy and zeal of Lieutenants-Commanding Woodworth and Bald-win, that I hope the Navy Department will reward them by re-appointing them as permanent officers in the service (if they will accept it), for while the Navy is composed of such men it will never be defeated in equal contests. Lieutenant-Commander Harrell, of the Miami, has had under his command a most wretched and unmanageable vessel, and has not had an opportunity to do himself full justice; he was always ready to do any service required of him, and on the night of the attack, with the rest, worked his battery with effect. As soon as the forts had been passed, on account of his light draught, I sent him to co-operate with General Butler in landing troops outside, which duty he performed to my entire satisfaction.

If the efforts of the mortar flotilla have not met your expectations in reducing the forts in a shorter time, it must be remembered that great difficulties existed, first in the soil, which allowed the bombs to sink at least twenty feet, by measurement, before exploding, the difficulty of seeing the fort, as it is not much above the surrounding bushes, and the endurance of the casemates, which were deeply covered with earth, and better constructed than supposed; but I am firmly of opinion that the moral effect of this bombardment will go far towards clearing all forts of rebels, and I draw attention to the case of Fort Livingston, which held out a flag of truce the moment three mortar vessels appeared before it. Flag-officer Farragut has ordered me to repair to Ship Island to await the arrival of the larger vessels, but not to commence any operations until he arrives.

I herewith enclose the reports of the commanders of steamers in relation to the conduct of those under their command.

I have the honor to remain,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Commanding Flotilla. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.


Report of Commander W. B. Renshaw, United States steamer Westfield.

United States Steamer Westfield, Mississippi River, May 5, 1862.
Sir — Agreeably to your order, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the United States steamer Westfield, under my command, since her arrival in the Mississippi River.

Upon our reaching Pass à l'outre, on the morning of the 18th of March, I had the honor of reporting my arrival to you in person, and by your order at once proceeded to tow the mortar schooners inside the bar. From that date until the 13th day of April, we were constantly engaged towing and assisting in getting the United States ships Mississippi and Pensacola over the bar at Southwest Pass.

On the 13th, while engaged covering the Coast Survey party, who were triangulating the river, you joined us with the Harriet Lane and other vessels of the squadron, and ordered me to start ahead and endeavor to reach with our rifle-shot two of the rebel gun-boats that were below the point watching our motions. Two discharges of the rifle caused them to retire and join some six or eight of their squadron lying under the guns at Fort Jackson. We continued our advance, and soon brought the whole squadron within range of our 100-pounder rifle, when we again opened fire, and so successfully that (as I have since learned from prisoners) we broke the shaft of the gun-boat Defiance, and otherwise so much crippled her that she was subsequently sunk by her crew. The forts having opened upon us, our signal of recall was made, and we returned to our station.

On the morning of the 17th, our boats, together with those of the mortar flotilla, extinguished the fire, and towed on shore a large fire-raft; and on the night of the 17th, we ran alongside to windward of another large fire-raft. We threw water from our force-pumps upon it, and materially assisted in subduing the flames.

On the afternoon of the 18th, after assisting in towing the mortar schooners to their positions, I was directed by you to proceed up the river and drive off a steamer that menaced the head of our line of mortar vessels. The steamer fled upon our [224] approach, but having reached a position that brought the forts in easy range of our rifle, we fired deliberately ten shots with that gun, many of which, I have reason to believe, took effect upon Fort St. Philip, the enemy at the same time throwing their rifle and 10 inch shot and shell thickly around us.

At 3.30 A. M., on the morning of the 21st, we discovered another large fire-raft, which we ran alongside of and assisted in extinguishing. From the 19th to the 24th instant, we were engaged with the rest of the flotilla steamers in supplying the mortar schooners with ammunition.

On the morning of the 24th, we got under way, in company with the flotilla steamers, led by yourself in the Harriet Lane, together with all the vessels of the squadron, for the attack on Forts Jackson and St. Philip. At 3.45 we opened fire with all our guns upon Fort Jackson at an estimated distance of 600 yards, and remained in this position until your signal was made to cease firing and retire from action.

I am happy to inform you that during this heavy cannonade this ship was not injured or a man hurt on board, owing to the fire of the enemy, from the face of the fort we engaged, having passed over us.

It also affords me the highest gratification to express my unqualified approbation and high appreciation of the bravery and zealous attention to duty of the officers and crew of the ship, whether engaged in our unremitting duties or when under fire of the enemy's guns.

During our operations against the forts we have expended thirty-five rifle-shot and shell, eleven 9-inch shell, and seventeen 8-inch shell. Here let me state, sir, that upon the several occasions this ship has been under the fire of the forts, I have been constrained from using my very efficient rifled gun as frequently as I could have desired, in consequence of there being no more projectiles (than those we had on board) upon the station. I will also state that it was in accordance with your wishes that I was thus careful of the few shot and shell we had.

Permit me, in conclusion, to call your attention to the fact, in explanation of the seemingly small amount of ammunition we have expended, that upon all the occasions this ship has been engaged (save the action of the 24th ultimo) it was advantageous to fight her “head on,” which prevented the use of all the guns except the rifle.

Respectfully submitted,

W. B. Renshaw, Commander United States Navy. Commander D. D. Porter, Commanding Mortar Flotilla, Mississippi River.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander A. D. Harrell, United States steamer Miami.

United States Steamer Miami, Mississippi River, April 24, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your order, I weighed anchor at half-past 2 o'clock on the morning of the 24th instant, and took my assigned position in the line. At the proper time opened and continued fire upon Fort Jackson until ordered to discontinue.

I have pleasure in adding that officers and men did their whole duty, and although shot and shell passed over and fell thickly around us, we sustained no injury.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

A. D. Harrell, Lieutenant-Commander. Commander D. D. Porter, Commanding Mortar Flotilla, Mississippi River.

United States Steamer Miami, Mississippi River, May 3, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to report that, in obedience to your order of the 24th ultimo, which I received immediately after the action of that morning, I received General Butler and staff on board, and proceeded to Pilot Town for the boats which I was ordered to procure.

After obtaining them, I immediately started to Isle au Breton Bay, and there received on board one regiment of troops, which I landed at Quarantine Station, above and in the rear of Fort St. Philip. I continued conveying and landing troops until the forts surrendered. I then proceeded and landed seven hundred and fifty troops at New Orleans on the first instant.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

A. D. Harrell, Lieutenant-Commander. Commander D. D. Porter. Commanding Mortar Flotilla, Mississippi River.

Report of Lieutenant J. M Wainwright. Commanding United States Steamer Harriet Lane.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane. Mississippi River, April 25, 1862.
Sir — In obedience to your order, I beg leave to submit the following report of the part taken by this vessel in the action on the morning of the 24th instant, between the United States naval forces and the batteries of Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

At 1.30 A. M., all hands were called, in anticipation of the signal from the flag-ship to prepare to get under way, which was made at two A. M. Every preparation for a move being completed, we impatiently waited the moment when our turn would come.

In the meantime the vessels of the fleet were getting under way, and forming in their respective lines, the starboard under Captain Bailey, in the gun-boat Cayuga, leading. At 3.28 A. M., the fleet being all under way, and steaming up the river, signal was made to the steamers of the mortar flotilla to weigh anchor, and we stood up towards the forts, our duty being to take an enfilading position below the water battery of Fort Jackson.

At 3.45 A. M., the forts opened on the leading ships, and immediately thereafter the mortar vessels commenced, and at 3.50, were raining a rapid and continuous fire on the enemy such as has rarely before been witnessed.

The crew were now called to quarters, and we steamed rapidly up the river to take our appointed position. Shortly after we passed the head of the line of mortar vessels, we found ourselves under the fire of the enemy, which was very hot, but most fortunately, too high. It was not till 4.20 A. M., that our guns could be brought to bear, when we opened on them with shell and shrapnel.

At 4.30 A. M., a shot carried away one of the stanchions and a portion of the railing of the bridge between the wheel-houses, the fragments of which killed one man, and seriously wounded another stationed at the 9-inch gun on the quarterdeck.

We retained our position within five hundred yards of Fort Jackson, firing as rapidly as possible, till 4.50 A. M., when the last vessel was seen to pass between the forts. The signal was then made to retire from action, and we stood down the river to our former anchorage, followed by the steamers of the mortar flotilla. At 4.55 A. M., four rockets were sent up, as a signal to the mortar vessels to cease firing, and shortly after we came to an anchor astern of them.

It gives me great pleasure to say that one and all [225] the officers and crew of this vessel did their duty like men, and displayed commendable coolness under a heavy fire, which they were obliged to endure for some minutes before it could be returned. My especial thanks are due to the executive officer, Lieutenant Edward Lea, who had the general superintendence of the battery; Acting-Masters Willis F. Munroe and Charles H. Hamilton, commanding the gun divisions, and Acting-Master J. A. Hannum, in charge of the powder division, which was well and rapidly served; also to Acting-Master George W. Sumner, an eleve of the Naval Academy attached to the Horace Beales, who volunteered for service, and gave me his valuable assistance in superintending the cutting of shrapnel, etc.

In conclusion, you must permit me to render the humble tribute of my admiration to the coolness, ability, and untiring zeal you have displayed during the arduous and perilous duty so gallantly performed for the last six days by the mortar flotilla. Such an example could not fail to inspire the confidence of those under your command in the glorious success which has attended their exertions, and which the result has proved to be so well founded.

I herewith enclose the report of the medical officer of the casualties which occurred on board this vessel.

I am, very respectfully,

Your most obedient servant,

J. M. Wainwright, Lieutenant-Commander. Commander David D. Porter, Commanding Mortar Flotilla.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander John Guest, United States gun-boat Owasco.

United States Steam Gun-Boat Owasco, Mississippi River, April 28, 1862.
Sir — In obedience to your instructions I submit this report:

At meridian on the 12th of April, the Owasco being at the head of the passes, by your order I got under way to protect the steamer Sachem, having on board the Coast Survey party, under Mr. F. H. Gerdes, while making a reconnaissance of the river. On reaching our advanced squadron of gun-boats, Commander S. P. Lee, senior officer, I reported to him that I was about to pass ahead for the purpose above indicated.

Captain Lee said the enemy were in large force, and that he would follow with all the gun-boats. As it was too late, when the Sachem got up to us, to work, we deferred proceeding till morning. In the meantime I advised you, sir, of the state of affairs, and next morning, shortly after 1 commenced work, I had the satisfaction to see you pass me with all the steamers of the mortar flotilla, which doubtless prevented much annoyance from the enemy.

Clearing the bushes with canister from our howitzers, the surveyors, Messrs. Oltmanns and Bowie, landed in one of our boats and prosecuted their work without molestation.

On the 14th, we resumed the work, and carried the triangulation well up to the forts on the right bank of the river, supported by the Westfield, Commander Renshaw. The surveyors were landed at the point desired, in the Owasco's gig, under charge of Master's Mate Thomas D. Babb. As the boat shoved off I observed three of the rebel steamers within gunshot, and fearing they might fire upon our boat, I opened upon them. After firing four shells from the 11-inch gun and three from the rifled gun, the steamers moved up to the forts. At this moment some riflemen in the bushes fired at the gig-boat, without hurting any one, although an oar was struck. Mr. Babb, with perfect composure, returned the fire from his boat. The surveying party, with equal coolness, put up their signals and took three angles, one hundred yards from the spot where they were fired at.

On the 15th, as the work had not been carried sufficiently high up on the left bank of the river, by your order I took the party up that side, followed by the Miami as a support.

After the surveyors had finished, finding myself within easy range of the forts, just before leaving I fired an 11-inch shell into Fort Jackson, to try their range. They fired twice in return, one of the shots passing over us and falling a quarter of a mile astern, the other just ahead of us.

Too much praise cannot be awarded Messrs. Oltmanns and Bowie for the intrepid and skillful manner in which they performed this service.

On the 16th, the Owasco accompanied you in your experimental trial with three of the mortar schooners in trying the ranges on the forts from the left bank of the river. This day the enemy fired about twenty shots, but without effect.

On the 17th, our boats, in charge of Mr. Babb, were employed in towing fire ships clear of the fleet.

On the 18th, at 6 A. M., we got under way, and soon received orders from you to proceed ahead of the bomb schooners, on the right bank, to clear the bushes of riflemen near the designated position of the mortar schooners. In obedience thereto, we steamed close along the bank of the river until we arrived at a smoke pipe of a sunken steamer, when the forts, at five minutes past nine, fired two shots at us, which I immediately returned from my 11-inch gun. This was followed by sharp firing from both forts.

Being within easy range of Fort Jackson, I directed my fire upon it and continued the action; twenty minutes after that the first mortar schooner opened, and after that at intervals, as fast as they could be got into position.

At 10 o'clock, I was glad to see the Iroquois, Captain De Camp, come to my support, and after her the gun-boats, one by one. The fire of the forts was dispersed among them, and was not so severe around us, although still quite sharp.

Previous to the appearance of the Iroquois, in the thickest of the firing, all on board the Owasco were much gratified at a visit from you, sir, when you came to tell us that you had asked that the gun-boats of the fleet might be sent to our support.

We maintained our position for two hours and three-quarters, until we had expended our last shell, when we retired from action by your order, having fired one hundred 11-inch shells and thirty-seven shells from our rifled gun.

We went down immediately to the ordnance ship Sportsman; filled up with ammunition ; found there were no cartridges made; but my men cheerfully worked all night, cutting out and sewing up cylinders, and by next morning (the 19th) we were ready for action again.

Coming up with the bomb fleet, and hearing you were on board the flag-ship, steamed up to our old position, and opened fire again on Fort Jackson. Fired fifty-five 11-inch shells, and twelve from the rifled gun.

The firing from the forts was very sharp. At this time I had another welcome visit from you, and retired, at your order, as it was thought 11-inch ammunition was running short, and it was desirable to keep it for closer distance.

By your permission I crossed the river to look for an anchor I had slipped the night before; but not finding it, I returned to my old position, near the smoke pipe of the sunken steamer, and finding the three leading mortar schooners in great danger of being sunk by the enemy's fire, I delivered ten 11-inch shells to Fort Jackson, and then sought you to inform you of the fact. Having received orders to withdraw them for a time, I returned and delivered your order to Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith, who executed it. [226]

On the 20th, 21st, 22d, and 23d, we were engaged in supplying the mortar schooners with ammunition — very often under fire.

On the 24th, at 3.15 A. M., in the general attack, the Owasco took her position — the third in your line, by order — and followed your motions.

Opened with shrapnel at 4 A. M., and continued a deliberate fire until 4.45, taking care not to fire in the direction of our ships which were passing the forts.

At 4.45, observed your signal “Retire from action,” which we did.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John Guest, Lieutenant-Commander. Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, Commanding Flotilla.


Report of acting Lieutenant-Commander C. H. Baldwin, United States steamer Clifton.

United States Steamer, Clifton, New Orleans, May 1, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to report that, since my arrival at Pass à l'outre, on the 18th of March, I have been employed, with little intermission, as follows: Towing the mortar vessels attached to the flotilla to the Southwest Pass, and for the succeeding two weeks was constantly engaged in assisting the larger vessels belonging to the flag-officer's squadron, viz: the Pensacola, and Mississippi, over the bar on which they had grounded, and in aiding the gun-boats attached to same squadron when aground in the river.

After this we were employed in making reconnoissances of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and in protecting the officers of the Coast Survey service while they were engaged in obtaining their distances, and in driving back the enemy's gun-boats, which occasionally made their appearance outside the chain.

On the 17th of April, we were assisting in towing mortar schooners into their positions, and, during the six days of the bombardment by these vessels, we were unremittingly employed in supplying them with powder and shell and in guard duty — our nights being passed in looking after the fire-rafts which the enemy sent down against the fleet, and in towing them ashore. In this duty, I believe I may say, we were quite successful.

These various duties during the six days of the bombardment carried our vessels pretty constantly under the fire of the enemy. We have, however, been so fortunate as to escape any injury from their shot.

On the morning of the 24th, in obedience to your order, we got under way, taking our appointed station in the line of steamers under your personal command, and proceeded to within short range of the guns of Fort Jackson, and opened fire on the enemy from our two forward nine-inch guns, aided at times by our nine-inch after-pivot gun and 32-pounder forward broadside gun, using five-second shell and shrapnel. This we continued until the flag-officer's squadron had passed both forts, when, in obedience to your signal, we drifted out of range. I am happy to state that we escaped without injury.

The duties now entailed upon us were to keep a strict lookout upon the gun-boats and floating battery of the enemy, which were lying close under the guns of Fort Jackson. Until the morning of the 28th, when Forts Jackson and St. Philip having surrendered to you, we were dispatched some sixteen miles down the river to bring up a portion of the force under General Butler's command, then lying there. On the afternoon of that day this was accomplished, and we arrived in sight of the forts just as our own flags were hoisted in place of the rebel ensigns.

I towed up a large transport ship with 1,300 troops on board, under Brigadier-General Phelps, and taking five companies of them on board the Clifton, landed them at both forts — they receiving their possession of them from the naval officers of your squadron, then in charge of the work.

I also, under your order, placed crews aboard the two rebel steamers, then in your possession, and transferred some 250 prisoners taken from the rebel gun-boats and floating battery to the officer in charge at Fort St. Philip.

We have just arrived here, having towed a transport up the river with a large number of General Butler's troops on board, intended to garrison the city of New Orleans, now held by our squadron.

Permit me here respectfully to state that offieers and crew, whether employed in the harassing duties which so constantly devolved upon us of towing and getting large vessels over the bar, or while engaged with the enemy, have behaved so uniformly well that I hesitate to particularize any one individual. During the time above referred to, neither the ship, engines, nor boilers have been for a moment out of order in any respect.

I have the honor to be, sir,

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. H. Baldwin, Acting Lieutenant-Commander. Commander D. D. Porter, Commanding Flotilla


Report of Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith, first division mortar flotilla.

United States Mortar Schooner Norfolk Packet, Mississippi River, May 3, 1862.
Sir — On the 18th ultimo, in obedience to your order, the first division of the flotilla moved up the right bank of the river to the flag indicated by you as distant from Fort Jackson 2,950 yards, and from Fort St. Philip 4,260 yards; the head vessel securing at that point with an anchor a little off shore, and light lines from the port bow and quarter to trees. The other vessels of the division, extending in close order to the distance of 3,620 yards from Fort Jackson, were secured in the same manner.

At 10 A. M., commenced firing upon Fort Jackson, discharging each mortar at intervals of ten minutes. The forts responded, their shot and shell falling around the vessels, and one, a 68-pound shot, killing a man on board the Arletta, and lodging under the mortar, but not disabling it. At 6.30 P. M., ceased firing, by signal from Harriet Lane.

April 19, at 7.30 A. M., the Harriet Lane made signal to commence firing. Discharged each mortar, at intervals of twenty minutes, upon Fort Jackson, until 8.45 A. M., when the interval was shortened to ten minutes. A shell bursting near the main masthead disabled one man who was aloft, destroyed a halliard block, and cut two main shrouds. At 4 P. M., ceased firing, the bombardment being continued by the divisions in watches.

On the 20th, 21st, 22d, and 23d, the firing was continued by the divisions in watches, excepting during the watch from 8 to midnight of the 20th, when the whole flotilla fired rapidly, while an expedition from the squadron cut the barrier chain near the forts.

No further injuries were sustained by persons in the first division, and but little damage to hulls, rigging, or spars, besides the occasional cutting by fragments of shells.

From the 21st, the firing from Fort St. Philip [227] was at times annoying, and by your direction two vessels at the head of the line directed their fire upon it. On the 23d, the enemy did not reply.

April 24, at 3.30 A. M., the firing commencing between the forts and the squadron passing up the river, the whole flotilla commenced firing rapidly upon Fort Jackson. At 4.45 A. M., the squadron, with few exceptions, had passed the forts. Ceased firing by signal from Harriet Lane. During this one hour and fifteen minutes this vessel fired twenty-eight shells, being at the rate of one in two and two-thirds minutes. The other vessels fired as rapidly. After the bombardment, on examining the vessels, all were found in condition to continue the fire or perform other service.

The heaviest charges used were twenty-three pounds, to reach Fort St. Philip, distant 4,710 yards, against a fresh wind.

Slight damage was done to the light bulwarks by the shock from the mortars but the mortar supports and the hulls below the plank sheer were unaffected.

On the same afternoon, six of the mortar vessels were sent to sea upon blockading service, and three of them, the Arletta, C. P. Williams, and O. H. Lee, belonged to this division. Their quick departure and continued absence prevents my giving you the aggregate number of shells fired by the first division during the bombardment. The four remaining vessels fired 1,512 shells, using 30,994 pounds of powder.

It was not always possible to mark and register the course of each shell, because of our not having a distinct view of the enemy and the mingling of so many shells as they converged in the direction of the forts. The accompanying reports of the acting-masters commanding the mortar vessels are in a comprehensive form furnished by them, and are as full as accuracy will permit.

The following is from the surgeon's report:

Killed: James Laver, ordinary seaman, on board the Arletta, native of Isle of Jersey; struck by an eight-inch solid shot on April 18.

Slightly wounded, disabled: Michael Brady, carpenter's mate of this vessel, aged 32, native of New York; struck by a fragment of a shell on April 19.

Although the enemy's fire was so well directed at times as to threaten the destruction of the vessels, the duties at quarters were performed, and the intervals of rest between watches enjoyed, with commendable coolness and composure throughout the division.

Respectfully yours,

Watson Smith, Lieutenant Commanding First Division. Commander D. D. Porter, Commanding U. S. Mortar Flotilla, Mississippi River.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander Walter W. Queen, Second division mortar flotilla.

United States Schooner T. A. Ward, Mississippi River, May 3, 1862.
Sir — I beg leave to submit to you the following report of the second division of the mortar flotilla:

On the morning of the 18th of April, 1862, my vessel was towed into position by the United States steamer Miami at 8.30 A. M. I anchored 3,900 yards below Fort Jackson, on the eastern bank of the river. The schooners of my division anchored astern of me in the following order, viz: Matthew Vassar, George Mangham, Adolph Hugel, Maria J. Carlton, and Sydney C. Jones, the Orvetta having previously taken a position on the western bank of the river, and thus being separated from the division.

Both forts immediately opened on us, firing very rapidly. At 8.45, we commenced firing on Fort Jackson, the shot from the fort falling in every direction around us, one of which struck so close to our quarter as to throw down some barrels of powder in the magazine by the concussion, but doing no damage. Shortly afterwards, another struck us, cutting away the forward shroud of port main rigging, passing through the wardroom, bulkhead pantry, stateroom, deck, storeroom, and extra magazine, escaping through the starboard quarter six inches above water line, doing considerable damage. I at once directed Mr. Hatch to drop the vessel down some 300 yards, which he did, followed by the three vessels lying immediately astern of me. I then went to the Sydney C. Jones. After taking their new positions the vessels which had dropped astern recommenced firing. While lying in her former position, the Mangham received a shot in her port bow, which passed through her galley and lodged in the mortar bed, doing no further injury.

The vessels were now actively engaged in throwing shells into the forts, and as no intervening object obstructed our sight, we could see the effect of our shells as each one lodged in or near the forts. We continued firing all day, not even ceasing for the men to eat their meals. About 5.30 P. M., we could see heavy smoke rising from a building outside the fort, caused by the bursting of a shell, and soon after the fort was seen to be on fire in three separate places, which soon formed into one mass of flames, since discovered to have been the citadel. At 6 P. M., we ceased firing, in obedience to signal from the Harriet Lane. At this time, we could distinguish men upon the ramparts trying to extinguish the flames.

At 9 o'clock, I received an order from you to drop down 800 yards and be in readiness to move across the river early in the morning, as you thought it likely the enemy would move his guns down the river and open on us in the morning. This we did, and nothing more of any importance occurred during the night. It is strange to say that, although the shot came around us in immense numbers, yet not one man was even wounded during the first day's engagement.

On the morning of the 19th instant, we were taken in tow by the Clifton, and took our position in line with the rest of the flotilla, on the west bank of the river, and at 8.30 A. M., were all engaged in throwing shells into the fort. The Hartford moved up and anchored off her beam, but finding she was drawing the enemy's fire on the flotilla (as they fell short of her,) she moved down again. The shot and shells from the forts fell thick around us, but did not do us any injury, with one exception, viz: about 10 o'clock A. M., the Maria J. Carlton, of this division, was struck by a shot which passed through her magazine floor and out at her bottom. She immediately began to sink, and the crew, with the assistance of others, soon got most of the moveables out of her. The mortar and shells they left, as they could not remove them.

We ceased firing at 12 M., and from this time continued firing by watches, each division taking a watch. Nothing particularly important occurred during the next day, until 10.35 P. M., when the gun-boats Pinola and Itasca went up the river to cut the chain. As soon as they started, the mortar flotilla commenced firing very rapidly, and continued until 12.35 A. M., when the gun-boats returned. We continued, as usual, firing by watches until the morning of the 24th of April, when we commenced at 2.30 A. M. to fire as rapidly as possible, while the steamers passed up the river to attack the forts. We did not cease until signaled to do so by you at 5.30 A. M.

Both officers and men behaved gallantly; and where everyone did his duty so well,it is almost impossible to award praise to any single individual. As our galley was rendered almost useless during [228] the bombardment, the men suffered some inconvenience in getting cooked the rations that were served out to them, and their sleep was also much interrupted; but I am glad to say that not a murmur of dissatisfaction was to be heard among them. I may also mention that Acting-Master J. Duncan Graham, my executive officer, was in command of the United States schooner Sydney C. Jones during the whole of the bombardment, and acted to my entire satisfaction. The conduct of William Hatch and John Richards, masters' mates, during the bombardment, has also met my warmest approval — the former having sighted the mortar every time it was fired during the action; the latter having charge of the powder division, and making himself generally useful about the vessel. The only wounded in this division were two of the crew of the Carlton, one severely, the other slightly.

Very respectfully your obedient servant,

W. W. Queen, Lieut.-Comanding, in Command of 2d Div. Mortar Flotilla. Commander D. D. Porter, Commanding Mortar Flotilla.


Report of Lieutenant-Commander K. Randolph Breese, Third division mortar flotilla.

U. S. Barkantine, Horace Beales, Mississippi River, April 30, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the third division mortar flotilla, under my command, in the bombardment of Fort Jackson. At 9.30 A. M., of the 18th instant, the John Griffiths, (on board of which vessel I hoisted my divisional flag,) Racer, and Sarah Bruen, were taken in tow by the Clifton, and towed into position assigned, astern of the first division, on the right bank of the river, at the following distances from the centre of Fort Jackson: John Griffiths, 3,900 yards; Racer, 3,940 yards, and the Sarah Bruen, 3,980 yards. About 10 A. M., the John Griffiths opened fire from her mortar, and was soon followed by the Racer and Sarah Bruen. At 2 P. M., the rear vessels of the first division having been advanced, the Henry James, Dan Smith, and Sea Foam came up under sail and took their positions ahead of the Griffiths, at the following distances from the fort: Henry James, 3,630 yards; the Dan Smith, 3,730 yards; and the Sea Foam, 3,850 yards. At about 2.15 P. M., they opened fire from their mortars. A constant fire was kept up by each vessel from the time of taking position until 6.37 P. M., when signal to “cease firing” was made. During the day the John Griffiths threw 69 shells; the Racer, 50; the Sarah Bruen, 61: the Henry James, 24; the Dan Smith, 31; and the Sea Foam, 43.

Second day.--At 6.25 A. M., April 19, recommenced fire upon Fort Jackson from the whole division, which was kept up, each vessel firing at intervals of about ten minutes, until 8 P. M., when ceased firing. During the day, the Griffiths threw 92 shells; the Racer, 88; the Sarah Bruen, 88; the James, 97; the Dan Smith, 92; and the Sea Foam. 88.

Third day.--At 4 A. M., April 20, opened fire upon the fort from the division, each vessel firing at intervals of about ten minutes. At 8 A. M., ceased firing, and at 10.13 A. M., reopened from the whole division as before. From 4 P. M. to 10.10 P. M., each vessel firing at intervals of twenty minutes. From 10.10 P. M. to 3.03 A. M., (21st,) as rapidly as possible, supporting the gun-boats cutting the chain. From 8.03 A. M. to 4 A. M., at intervals of fifteen minutes. During the day, ending at 4 A. M., the Griffiths threw 119 shells; the Racer, 117; the Sarah Bruen, 117; the Henry James, 113; the Dan Smith, 119; the Seam Foam, 111.

Fourth day.--At noon the division again commenced fire, each vessel firing at intervals of about ten minutes, ceasing at 4 P. M. At 8 P. M. reopened as before, keeping up the fire until midnight. During this day the Griffiths threw 50 shells; the Racer, 50; the Sarah Bruen, 56; the Henry James, 55; the Dan Smith, 55; the Sea Foam, 47.

Fifth day.--At 8 A. M., April 22, each vessel of the division commenced fire, firing at intervals of about ten minutes. Ceased fire at noon; reopened at 6 P. M. and fired until 8 P. M., firing as before. During the day the Griffiths threw 56 shells; the Racer, 46; the Sarah Bruen, 49; the Henry James, 40; the Dan Smith, 67; and the Sea Foam, 52.

Sixth day.--At 4 A. M., April 23, the division reopened fire, each vessel firing at intervals of about ten minutes, ceasing at 8 A. M. At 4 P. M., again opened fire from each vessel of the division at intervals of about twelve minutes, keeping it up until 6 P. M. During the day the Griffiths threw 38 shells; the Racer, 28; the Sarah Bruen, 36; the Henry James, 34; the Dan Smith, 63; the Sea Foam, 51.

Seventh day.--At midnight, April 24, the division opened fire, each vessel firing at intervals of ten minutes. At 3.40 A. M., the guns of the fort having opened on the fleet passing up the river, the division commenced firing as rapidly as possible, ceasing at 4.52 A. M., by signal, the fleet having passed the fort. At 5.30 A. M., opened fire upon the enemy's steamers near the fort; ceased at 5.48 A. M. At 3.55 P. M., commenced again upon the fort; ceasing at 5.04 P. M. At 5.20 P. M., the division got under way and dropped down the river. During the day the Griffiths threw 54 shells; the Racer, 81; the Sarah Bruen, 67 the Henry James, 52; the Dan Smith, 66; and Sea Foam, 60. The Horace Beales, with ordnance stores, temporarily under the command of Acting-Master George W. Sumner, executive officer, was towed up to within 600 yards of the rear of the mortar vessels, and discharged her ordnance stores, as was required, with great promptness. During the bombardment she received many of the articles saved from the Maria J. Carlton, and a ten-inch gun carriage and ammunition from the Jackson. She also received the sick and wounded of the flotilla and several of the wounded of the squadron. Ten of the men of the Beales, with Acting-Master Sumner, served on board the Harriet Lane during the engagement with the forts. The enemy's shot and fragments of shell, at times, flew about the division in all directions. Several pieces of the latter, of the size of an egg, and many smaller pieces, were picked up on board of the different vessels, but, through God's mercy, not a person was struck, nor have I a casualty of any kind to report during the whole bombardment. The Sarah Bruen has a hole through her foremast, which I am at a loss to account for, unless a fragment of the enemy's shell, which struck the face of the mortar at the edge of the bore. as it was about to be fired, fell into the mortar, and, being discharged, went through the mast. A little rigging cut here and there is all the damage I have to report done by the enemy.

The general effect of firing the mortars upon the vessels was to knock out the round houses forward and the light pine board bulwarks in the line of fire. The John Griffiths leaked more than usual during the bombardment, but has since tightened up; she has always been considered a weak vessel. The Racer's deck, on port side abreast of fore hatch, started from the carlines giving way, they not having been (originally) properly strengthened. The mortars show no kind of injury. The mortar carriages worked remarkably well. The only damage being (in some instances) the loss [229] of the feather to the eccentric axle, and the breaking of the screws that confine the socket to eccentric. These very slight injuries did not hinder the working of the mortar in the least. The screws were promptly replaced, a number of spare ones having been made. The turn-table on some of the vessels was found to have recoiled in the line of fire from an inch to an inch and a half ; it was easily pressed into position and kept so by breeching. Twenty-two and a half pounds of powder were fired from the Griffiths at the rebel iron-clad gunboat with no visible strain in vessel or carriage beyond that already experienced. The mortars were served equally well by the mortar crew and gun s crew, watch and watch, during the bombardment. Not a mistake or an accident occurred in loading the mortars or in filling and fuzing the shell, evincing the care and pains taken by the officers of the division in training their crews, as well as the attention, in time of action, by the latter to their duties. Notwithstanding the loss of sleep and regular meals and cooked food, the officers and men were ever ready to volunteer for any expedition or service against the enemy. And I must remark upon the cheerfulness and alacrity with which, when much exhausted, they manned their boats to keep up a proper supply of powder and shell. The acting-masters commanding the different vessels of the division gave the direction of fire from the mainmast head (from which place only was Fort Jackson to be seen) regulating the charges used as required. They kept their posts while engaged with scarce any relief, subject not only to the shock of their own mortars, but also from the one in the rear.

The conduct of the officers and the men during the bombardment is worthy of all praise. The different missiles of the enemy, flying about the division in all directions, did not distract them in the least in the discharge of their duties, nor, I may say, from their well-earned rest at the close of their watch.

Accompanying me to the John Griffiths from the Horace Beales was Assistant-Surgeon Edes, Mr. Bacon, (my clerk,) and my boat's crew. Dr. Edes had every preparation made for the care of wounded men, he remaining on board the Griffiths during the bombardment, ready to give his services wherever needed. Mr. Bacon acted as signal officer, and was engaged in taking notes.

I visited each vessel of the division frequently, night and day, while in action, finding the same good order in each. The minute directions given by you were strictly carried out.

I have only to add that, as the vessels and mortars are now fitted, the preparations for action and the service of the mortars made beforehand were ample, and did not require to be altered in the least during the bombardment, nor has any suggestion from the seven days actual service been made in the way of improvement, except as a precaution, the breeching around the turn-table.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

K. R. Breese, Lieutenant-Commander Third Division Mortar Flotilla. Commander David D. Porter, Commanding Mortar Flotilla.


Report relative to prisoners in the Confederate naval service captured after the surrender of the forts.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane, Forts Jackson and St. Philip, May 2, 1862.
Sir — Enclosed is a list of prisoners of war captured by me, after the capitulation of the forts, on board of the steamers Burton, Landes, and Defiance, the latter of which was sunk by order of John K. Mitchell, late commander in the United States Navy. By order of Flag-officer Farragut I send them home in the Rhode Island, subject to the order of the department, on account of their infamous and perfidious conduct in setting fire to and blowing up the floating battery Louisiana and sending her adrift upon the vessels of ours that were at anchor, while they had a flag of truce flying and were engaged in drawing up the capitulation of the fort, the vessels under the command of J. K. Mitchell, with the exception of one, having no colors up at the time. These prisoners have forfeited all claim to any consideration, having committed an infamous act, unknown in any transaction of this kind. Had the Louisiana blown up in the midst of our vessels she would have destroyed every one of them. As it was, good fortune directed her towards Fort St. Philip, where she exploded with great force, scattering fragments all over the work, killing one of their own men in the fort, and landing a large beam close to the tent of Commander McIntosh, who was lying with one arm blown off and another broken, his knee-cap shot away and a leg broken. The surgeon in attendance pronounced it the most perfidious act he had ever heard of. The explosion was seen and heard for many miles, and it was supposed that the forts were blown up.

Enclosed is a letter from J. K. Mitchell stating that the persons mentioned therein had nothing to do with the transaction. I shall, however, carry out the orders of the flag-officer, and send them home in the Rhode Island, subject to the consideration of the department.

I have the honor to remain, very respectfully,

David D. Porter, Commanding Flotilla. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.


List of Confederate officers:

Captain J. K. Mitchell, 1st-Lieutenant J. N. Wilkinson, 2d-Lieutenant W. H. Ward, 3d-Lieutenant W. C. Whittle, jr., Lieutenant A. F. Warley, Surgeon John D. Grafton, Lieutenant F. M. Harris, ex-naval officers of the United States; Purser L. E. Brooks, Gunner Wilson, Boatswain Jones, Carpenter Cherry, Captain's Clerk George Taylor, Captain's Clerk W. Clark, Chief Engineer W. Young-blood, 2d Assistant Engineer James Harris, 2d Assistant Engineer M. Parsons, 3d Assistant Engineer Theo. Hart, 3d Assistant Engineer James Elliott, 3d Assistant Engineer James Waters.

Engineers from the Manassas.--Menzis, 3d assistant engineer; Weaver, 2d assistant engineer; Culver, 2d assistant engineer; Newman, 3d assistant engineer.

United States Steamer Clifton. Near Fort St. Philip, May 2, 1862.
Sir — The following officers of the Confederate States navy now held on board this vessel as prisoners of war, had no voice in the council which determined upon the destruction of the Confederate States steamer Louisiana, on the 28th ultimo, viz: Surgeon James D. Grafton, Assistant Paymaster L. E. Brooks, Captain's Clerk George Taylor Captain's Clerk William Clark, 1st Engineer W. Young-blood, 2d Assistant Engineer James Harris, 2d Assistant Engineer M. Parsons, 3d Assistant Engineer Theo. Hart, 3d Assistant Engineer James Elliott, 3d Assistant Engineer James Waters, 2d Assistant Engineer Orvel Culver, 2d Assistant Engineer George W. Weaver, 3d Assistant Engineer T. A. Menzis, 3d Assistant Engineer William Newman, Engineer Henry Fagin, Engineer J. H. Toombs, Engineer J. H. Dent, Gunner James Wilson, Boatswain Samuel Jones, Carpenter Virginius Cherry, Paymaster's Steward D. Porter.

I make the above statement in consequence of having learned informally that all such officers [230] would be paroled on a representation of the fact to you.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John K. Mitchell, Commander, Late in command of the C. States Naval Forces near Fort Jackson. Com. David D. Porter, Commanding United States Naval Forces near Fort St. Philip.


Special report of Commander Porter, commending the conduct of the officers of the mortar flotilla.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane, Southwest Pass May 3, 1862.
Sir — In my general report to the department, I made honorable mention of the officers commanding vessels and divisions in this flotilla, but I think there is something more due to these officers than a general notice, in which manner most every officer comes in for a share of approval, without its being specified what particular qualities entitle them to it.

To the commanders of divisions of mortar flotilla, the country is mainly indebted to the fall of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, for the latter is consequent on that of the former. I cannot express to you in sufficient terms the zeal and ability displayed b Lieutenants-Commanding Watson Smith, W. W. Queen, and K. R. Breese. They have been indefatigable in drilling their men, infusing a proper spirit into them, and carrying out my orders during the bombardment, which lasted without intermission for six days and nights. They gave themselves but little rest. I could draw no distinction between them. Neither flagged for a moment in their duty and though they lost but few men in killed and wounded, they have been exposed to as hot a fire as the enemy were capable of showering upon them. They are the kind of men to lead our ships into battle, and I hope that the department will take such notice of their conduct as this great occasion merits.

To Commander Renshaw, Lieutenants-Commanding Guest, Bald win, Wainwright, and Woodworth, my thanks are particularly due for the zeal they manifested on all occasions to serve, no matter in what capacity, and the condition of their vessel for service. If I have not detailed in my general report the various acts of these officers, it is not because I did not appreciate them, but because it would lengthen my report, already voluminous, intending to do them full justice on this occasion. Lieutenant-Commander Harrell has not had the opportunity to give the same evidence of ability, though I have ever found him ready to carry out my wishes, as he says his vessel is unmanageable. He has, however, done good service, and is a zealous officer.

I have to remain, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Commanding Flotilla. Hon. Gideon Welles. Secretary of the Navy.


Letter of Commander D. D. Porter, enclosing paroles of officers taken at forts Jackson and St. Philip.

United States Steamer Harriet Lane, Ship Island, May 15, 1862.
Sir — I have the honor to enclose the paroles of the officers captured in Fort Jackson, with the list of men remaining at the time of the surrender. The list of officers and men in Fort St. Philip must have been sent to the flag-officer, together with the list of persons captured by the Harriet Lane in the steamers Burton, Landes, and Defiance, under late Commander J. K. Mitchell, consisting of two hundred and fifty of the crew of the iron steam battery Louisiana, and the Crescent artillery, composed of over a hundred officers and men. The number of men in the two forts during the bombardment was eleven hundred, but about two hundred left before the flag of truce was sent down. The rolls of the fort were handed in to the officers taking charge, but our troops taking possession a short time after everything was thrown into disorder, and it was not possible to obtain them.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

David D. Porter, Commanding Flotilla. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.
[Parole omitted.]


Congratulatory letter of the Secretary of the Navy.

Navy Department, May 10, 1862.
Sir — Your dispatch of April 30, enclosing the articles of capitulation of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which surrendered on the 28th ultimo, after a bombardment of 144 consecutive hours by the mortar flotilla, has been received. I have also to acknowledge the receipt of the flags taken in the two forts on that occasion, including the original one hoisted on Fort St. Philip when the rebel forces declared the State of Louisiana to have seceded from the Union, which have been sent forward to the Department.

The important part which you have borne in the organization of the mortar flotilla, and the movement on New Orleans, has identified your name with one of the most brilliant naval achievements on record, and to your able assistance with the flotilla is Flag-officer Farragut much indebted for the successful results he has accomplished.

To yourself and the officers and seamen of the mortar flotilla, the department extends its congratulations.

I am, respectfully, &c.,



Coast Survey reports.

Treasury Department, May 22, 1862.
Sir — At the instance of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of the journal of Assistant F. H. Gerdes, United States Coast Survey, showing the services rendered to the fleet under command of Flag-officer Farragut, United States Navy, and to the mortar fleet under command of Captain D. D. Porter, United States Navy.

I am, very respectfully,

S. P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury. Hon. Gideon Welles. Secretary of the Navy.


Extracts from a report of Assistant F. H. Gerdes, commanding surveying steamer Sachem, to Professor A. D. Bache, Superintendent of the coast Survey.

April 13.--At daylight of the 13th of April, I again got under way and took the lead, the gun-boats of the flotilla and the naval vessels in the vicinity following the Sachem.

The following disposition was made of my party: [231]

1. Sub-Assistant J. G. Oltmanns and Mr. T. C. Bowie repaired on board the Owasco, and used during the day a boat and armed crew from that vessel; they ascended the river on the west bank.

2. Myself and Assistant Jos. Harris, after leaving the Sachem off the Salt Works at anchor, took our own boat, with an armed crew, and ascended the river on the east bank.

3. Sub-Assistant R. E. Halter went with another of our boats and an armed crew to the Salt Works, to occupy with a theodolite the top of the chimney of the old engine building, which had been trigonometrically determined by the Coast Survey.

We succeeded in the operations, and came within three miles of the fort before night set in. The last lines of this day were observed on Fort St. Philip flagstaff.

On our return on board the Sachem, we mapped the work and brought it up as far as we had progressed during the day.

April 14.--On the 14th of April, at sunrise, I consulted with Captain Porter, and we concluded to continue the work and to ascend the river until the positions of the hulks, which support the chain across the Mississippi could be properly determined.

A large portion of the fleet went up to the conspicuous point (which I have named Porter's Point), just two miles below Fort Jackson, and engaged the enemy to draw their attention from our boats. This, however, was only partially effected; they had probably found out the day previous that engineering operations were in progress. and now undertook to stop them. When Mr. Oltmanns passed Porter's Point, he was fired on with eight or nine rifled shot, but fortunately the whole damage consisted in breaking the blade of an oar. The fire was promptly returned, and the operations were continued. The observations were successfully continued during this day, and the mapping was completed during the evening and part of the night.

April 15.--In the morning, Captain Porter came on board, and we consulted as to the continuance. I sent Mr. Oltmanns and Mr. Bowie again up the river in the Owasco. They ascended within one mile and a half of the lower fort, and were quite successful in getting intersections on the hulks and on the two flagstaffs of the fortifications.

They found that during the previous night all the signals which we had put up during the day before had been removed; besides, it was ascertained that a number of men were hidden in the bushes. There was hardly anywhere on the shore a footing to be got, and we had to resort to all kinds of observations, instruments and positions, some stations consisting of flags in overhanging branches, and the angles were measured below the same with a sextant, in a boat; others were chimney-tops of deserted houses, on which we mounted small theodolites, having to work our way through the roof. A few only were on terra firma.

April 17.--I saw and consulted with Captain Porter and the flag-officer. To the latter, I gave a copy of the map and a memorandum of distances, for which he expressed much gratification. He spoke with the highest regard of the Coast Survey, and said many kind things of the intrepidity, determination, system and dispatch of the party under my charge, and considered our services of great value to the fleet.

Captain Porter desired me to furnish him with points along the shore every 100 or 150 metres apart, on both banks of the river, for the purpose of placing the mortar vessels at given distances from the forts. This was accomplished to-day, Mr. Oltmanns and Mr. Bowie taking the west side, and Mr. Harris the east side of the river. Meantime, three more copies of the map and memorandum were finished on board and distributed to the fleet.

Several of the enemy's gun-boats came out, and both our boats were fired at repeatedly.

April 18.--Before daylight on the 18th of April, Mr. Oltmanns went on board the Harriet Lane. and Mr. Harris on some other gun-boat, both with directions to assist in placing the mortar vessels exactly in such positions as were marked out by Captain Porter the day before, and which had been determined by the same gentlemen. Tow after tow, consisting of one of the former ferry-boats, Westfield and Clifton, each with three or four mortar boats, came up, and the latter were in a short time stationed at given distances from the forts. As soon as all were in position the enemy commenced firing, and from our side the bombardment fairly commenced.

Mr. Oltmanns and Mr. Harris both carried out my instructions to the letter, and placed the mortars in the exact spot as designated by Captain Porter, at accurately known distances. They were during the whole day under fire. General Butler made his appearance in the river with 7,000 men, which he offered to the flag-officer.

April 19.--Early in the morning, I had a conference with the commander, who desired me again to send two officers to the flotilla for the purpose of moving some of the mortars to other places, and furnish them with the distances and bearings. This was done accordingly. One of the vessels on which Mr. Harris was engaged was struck by a round shot, and another vessel where Mr. Oltmanns was in a boat alongside was sunk while he was speaking with the captain. During the day, we furnished also two more charts for the fleet. In the evening, Captain Porter sent me word again to dispatch early next morning two officers for giving data. You see they kept us pretty busy.

April 20.--Early in the morning, Messrs. Oltmanns and Halter made the rounds of the mortar vessels at the request of the commander of the flotilla, and changed the position of a few, giving them again bearings and distances.

I went on board the Harriet Lane in the forenoon, but did not see Captain Porter, who was in his gig among the fleet. The mortar firing during the day was kept up vigorously, and I presume that 1,500 shots were sent towards the forts.

In the evening, an officer from the Pensacola came on board to get some information about the depth of the river in the immediate locality of the forts, and Mr. Oltmanns and myself gave him all the details that had come under our observation.

April 22.--At daylight, Captain Porter sent me a note requesting me to drop down to the Jump, and to wait for a boat which had been sent on an expedition in the rear of Fort Jackson, and to bring her up the river directly on her arrival in the Mississippi. I went down with the steamer and anchored off the upper point of the Jump, and took the opportunity to reconnoitre that passage more specially. At sundown, I sent Mr. Halter to the commander of the flotilla to report that we did not see anything of his boat, but that I would wait during the night. I received a letter from him in return, stating his fears that the boat's crew would be lost, and begging me to go in search of them, as he had his hands full of the attack that in all probability was to come off during the night. This, of course, was resolved on, and to-morrow, by sunrise, a boat will be sent for the purpose.

April 23.--At daylight, I dispatched Mr. Oltmanns, the first mate, and a crew of six men, all doubly armed and well provisioned with food and water, in the second cutter in search of the missing boat expedition, directing him to leave written notices at the mouth of the multifarious bayous, naming the route to be pursued, to hoist in his boat the American ensign, and to do anything in his power to find out the crew which must have lost their way in the labyrinth of marsh streams. Mr. Harris returned [232] from the fleet and brought me a message from Capt. Porter to come up and run alongside. I fired two 32-pounders as a signal for Mr. Oltmanns to return, and set also a blue signal at the fore. Calling on the flag-officer, he said he had no vessel to spare from the engagement, and would consider it a favor if I would carry some of his wounded men in the Sachem to the hospital at the mouth of the Southwest Pass. He further added that, as he was preparing a severe night attack with the fleet, it would seem too hard to carry those poor crippled fellows with him in the fight.

Of course I at once consented very cheerfully, and repeated that, whenever he could make use of me, I would be at his service. Meanwhile, Mr. Oltmanns had not returned from his search for the boat expedition, but I had to let him shift for himself, knowing that he would bring up somewhere safely.

At four in the afternoon, the wounded men were sent on board, two of whom had suffered amputation, and all of them in a dangerous state. At a quarter to 5, I was steaming down, having made the poor men as comfortable as I could. Mr. Harris brought the hospital physician on board, who took charge of the patients, and we sent them in our double-bunked boat on shore.

April 24.--The gun-boat Miami anchored alongside the Sachem, bringing me a verbal request from Captain Porter to accompany General Butler's expedition to the rear of Fort St. Philip. I had previously sent Mr. Harris up to the fleet to see the commander and report the derangement of our engine. At 5 P. M., General Butler arrived in the Saxon and called on me in person, bringing me a letter at the same time from Captain Porter. I arranged with him to meet him as soon as my repairs had been made at Isle au Breton, and to send an officer with him in the Saxon to pilot his vessel through Pass a l'outre. Mr. Oltmanns also came back from his boat expedition in the rear of Fort Jackson, having been within one mile and a half of the fort.

April 26.--In the morning, Captain Boggs, of the Varuna steam gun-boat, came on board to go with me to General Butler's ship; he had lost his vessel during the passage of the fleet past the forts on the 24th, being run into from two different quarters by iron-clad steamers of the enemy. This was a most brilliant exploit. His ship sunk with her colors flying, but not before she had crippled, burned and sunk six of the opposing steamers.

In the afternoon, I got under way, the machinery working well forward. We dropped anchor alongside the Harriet Lane, and I had a conference with the commander. He sent his and other engineers to examine the Sachem's machinery, when all appeared right.

April 27.--We got under way after sunrise and stood off Pass à l'outre, and brought over the bar 15 feet. At noon, we arrived off Sable Island, where we found General Butler in the steam transport Mississippi. I called on him and had a long conversation respecting the coast. At 2 o'clock, he came on board the Sachem and I took him to the rear of Fort Jackson; from thence he took a boat up to the Quarantine, using one of the smaller bayous for his passage. I dispatched Mr. Harris at once to stake out a four-foot line along the coast, as the general intends to make an experiment with his rifled guns on the forts from here. We also ascertained the distance by bearings on Forts St. Philip and Jackson. Mr. Halter reported again to me, and was sent out at 8 o'clock in the evening to stake out the boat channel to the Quarantine with lamps, so that troops might be conveyed there during the night. He returned at 2 o'clock, having successfully performed the task. Four hundred men were sent in safety during the night, and the garrison at the camp of the Quarantine now consists of one full regiment. In the morning, the captain of the gun-boat Miami, which was aground close by the Sachem, sent on board requesting assistance. I ran ahead of him, sent him a nine-inch hawser, and got him afloat by 8 o'clock in the morning. In the afternoon, I sent Messrs. Oltmanns and Harris to Fort Bayou to put up a signal--Mr. Halter having found out in the morning that both signals at this place and at Raccoon Point were lost. While the boat was away, at 2.30 P. M., both secession flags at Forts Jackson and St. Philip were hauled down. The most intense excitement followed. I saw the Harriet Lane and three other steamers, with a flag of truce on the fore, steaming up to the forts, and directly afterwards saw a large steamer of the enemy enveloped in flames. This proved to be the new iron-clad battery Louisiana; she burned entirely down. At about quarter before 3, her magazine exploded with a crash and shock the like of which I never witnessed. The cloud of smoke rose to an estimated height of at least six hundred feet, and pieces of the wreck could be seen flying in the air very distinctly. At 3 o'clock, the Harriet Lane came up, and, after the firing of one gun, I had the inexpressible delight of seeing the stars and stripes waving once more over Forts Jackson and St. Philip. I fired a salute directly, and gave the information to other vessels near. I sent a recall for my party, there being no further use to prosecute the work here, and Captain Porter had expressed a desire that I should join him at the forts as soon as they were ours. In the evening, General Williams came in the Miami, and when I communicated the news, the cheering, Yankee Doodle and “Hail Columbia” it seemed would never end. At 11 o'clock P. M., we got under way and steamed towards Pass a l'outre.

April 29.--We crossed the bar at 6 A. M. with fifteen feet, half-tide, running the north side of the “middle ground” again as before. We passed the forts early in the afternoon. At 4 o'clock, I took the commander of the flotilla over to Fort Jackson, my officers having also arrived in a separate boat. We inspected closely for a couple of hours the damage done by the mortars, and I cannot understand to this minute how the garrison could have possibly lived so long in the enclosures. The destruction goes beyond all description; the ground is torn by the shells as if a thousand antediluvian hogs had rooted it up; the holes are from three to eight feet deep, and are very close together, sometimes within a couple of feet; all that was wood in the fort is completely consumed by fire: the brick-work is knocked down; the arches stove; guns are dismounted; gun carriages broken, and the whole presents a dreadful scene of destruction.

April 30.--Early in the morning I received a communication from the commander requesting me to await here his return from New Orleans, where he goes to-day in the Harriet Lane.

I also hear that a gun-boat is going north, and I conclude therefore this report, to send by the same.

Allow me to add a few words to express the high gratification which the gallant and able deportment of my officers has given, not only to myself, but, I have reason to believe, to everybody in the fleet, and to the general of the land forces. I hope you will say that we have done our duty.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

F. H. Gerdes, Assistant United States Coast Survey.


Report of Joseph Harris, United States coast Survey, of some of the incidents that came under his notice and of his observations at the forts, etc.

Southwest Pass, Mississipp River, May 4, 1862.
Sir — While engaged in the survey of the injuries received by Fort Jackson during the bombardment [233] and the passage of the fleet, several incidents came under my notice, which, at your request, I have now the honor to submit to you in writing.

While waiting for the boat to take us off, on the last day on which we were engaged on the survey, Mr. Oltmanns and I fell into conversation with some men who had been in the fort as part of the garrison. One of them, who said he was a New Yorker, particularly informed us — a reliable, intelligent man, from the moderation of his statements — and I think his information well worthy of note.

I shall merely record his statements, as the conversation on our part, which drew forth information on the points where we especially desired, is not necessary to the understanding of them, and this communication is likely to be very long without the introduction of any irrelevant matter.

General J. K. Duncan had command of both forts, and Colonel Higgins, who some years ago was an officer of the United States navy, had the immediate command of Fort Jackson. Colonel Higgins has the credit of being a most brave and vigilant officer.

For forty-eight hours my informant thought Colonel Higgins had not left the ramparts, and never seemed in the least disconcerted when the bombs were falling thickest around him.

A large proportion of the forces inside the fort were northern men; and there were also many foreigners. The party that seized the fort early in 1861, was a company of German Yagers, and there were a number of Irish also. In all there were some 600 or 700 men in the fort at the time of the bombardment. The northern men were mostly sent down at an early stage of the proceedings, and I imagine most of them volunteered, hoping in that way to avoid suspicion, and perhaps not have to fight against the government after all.

Colonel Higgins had no expectation of being attacked; that is, he thought no fleet could be brought against him sufficiently strong to risk an attack.)

There was a company of sharpshooters attached to the forces, under the command of Captain Mullen. They numbered about two hundred, and were largely recruited from the “riffraff” of New Orleans. They scouted so far down as eight or nine miles below the forts, and brought nightly reports to Fort Jackson, traveling by the bayous or passes on the southwest side of the river. The main body, however, lay in the edge of the woods below Fort Jackson, about a mile and a half from it. From here they fired on the boat that pulled up under that shore on the 14th. The grape and canister shot that the Owasco threw into the bushes made their berth uncomfortable, and they broke up their camp came into the fort all wet and draggled, having thrown many of their arms away, and swore that they would go to New Orleans; and they went.

My informant voluntarily gave the credit of reducing the fort to the “bomb fleet.” The fort was so much shaken by this firing that it was feared the casemates would come down about their ears. The loss of life by the bombs was not great, as they could see them coming plainly and get out of the way; but the effect of their fall and explosion no skill could avert.

About one shell in twenty failed to explode, even those that fell in the water going off as well as the others. It is well worth noting that the bombs that fell in the ditch close to the walls of the fort, and exploded there, shook the fort much more severely than any of those that buried themselves in the solid ground.

The firing was most destructive the first day, and the vessels lying on the northeast side of the river, which were in plain view of the forts, made much the most effective shots. The bomb vessels lying on the other side of the river were at all times totally invisible, the best glasses failing to distinguish their bush tops from the trees around them.

During the bombardment the only guns that were much used were the rifled guns, of which there were three, and the four 10-inch columbiads and Dahlgren 8-inch guns, eight in number. The mortars (in the fort) fired occasionally. One of the rifled guns, mounted on the fort proper before the bombardment, was sent two days before the fire opened to Island No.10.

One of the rifles in the water battery was originally one of the barbette guns, a 32-pounder. It was sent to New Orleans to be rifled, and a week after the second one was sent; but the first, on trial, proving a failure, the second was not changed.

The large columbiad in the water battery was made somewhere in Secessia, but exactly where my informant did not know.

The fort was in perfect order when the bombardment commenced, it having always been very strictly policed, and the dirt, which now disfigures everything, is the accumulation of a few days.

The water did not enter the fort until the levee had been broken with bombs, and during the summer of 1861, when the Mississippi was even higher, the parade ground was entirely dry. There was very little sickness in the fort, the water probably not having stood long enough to create miasma.

The discipline in the fort was very strict; but what seemed to be felt more than the strictness was the bringing in of very young and entirely inexperienced officers, who were placed in command of others much their superiors in knowledge.

Suspected men were closely watched, and the punishment for improper talk among them was to tie a rope around the offenders and let them float in the stinking ditch.

The impression we derived from this part of the conversation, however, was that the fort was very well governed, and that the man who was speaking had not often come under the displeasure of the authorities, for he was not eloquent on the subject of his wrongs.

The chain, as first stretched across the river, was quite a formidable obstacle. The chain was brought from Pensacola, and was a very heavy one. It was supported by heavy logs, 30 feet long, only a few feet apart, to the under side of each of which the chain was pinned near the up stream end. The chain was kept from sagging down too far by seven heavy anchors, from which small chains ran to the main chain.

These anchors were buoyed with can-buoys taken from Pilot Town. In a few months a raft formed on the upper side of this chain which reached up to the forts, and its weight swept away the whole obstruction, and went to sea, carrying the buoys with it.

It was then replaced by the lighter chain, buoyed by hulks there, three weeks ago. Two of the large can-buoys were placed in the magazine in the water battery. The night that Flag-officer Farragut's fleet passed up, Colonel Higgins was so sure of destroying it that he allowed the first vessel to come up with the fort before opening fire, fearing that they would be driven back prematurely and escape him. When they succeeded in passing, he remarked: “Our cake is all dough; we may as well give it up).”

During this engagement a Captain Jones, from the back country, had charge of those casemate guns which were firing hot shot. He depressed the muzzles of his guns very considerably, fearing to fire too high, and being desirous of working his guns vigorously had them run out with a jerk, the consequence of which was that the balls rolled harmlessly into the moat, and the guns blazed away powder and hay-wads at a most destructive rate.

This continued until some of the officers on the ramparts, observing how much his shot fell short, [234] told him of it. He then commenced operations on one particular vessel, which he kept at until some one informed him that he was devoting himself to one of their own chain hulks.

The enemy's gun-boats did not come up to the expectations that were formed of them. The Louisiana especially, was very much relied on, but her crew of 200 men were drunk at the time that they should have done their duty best. I could not find out anything about her from this man, as he had never been aboard of her, and did not believe the exaggerated stories that were told here about her.

The small loss of life in the fort is due, to a great extent, to the fact that the men have been carefully kept below, only the guns' crew being allowed out of shelter. The New Yorker was a powder-passer for the battery in which the rifled gun and the large columbiads of the main fort were, and, therefore, had a good opportunity of seeing what went on, they being in pretty constant use.

One bomb broke into the officers' mess-room while they were at dinner, and rolled on the floor; as it lay between them and the door they could not escape, but all gathered in a corner and remained there in terrible suspense until it became evident that the fuse had gone out, and they were safe.

On the first night of the firing, when the citadel and outhouses were all in flames, the magazine was in very great danger for some time, and a profuse supply of wet blankets was all that saved it; there was great consternation that night, but afterwards the garrison got used to it, and were very cool. A bomb broke into the secret passage cut in the fort. One of the soldiers went into it some distance when he was discovered by General Duncan and ordered out. The passage was then filled up and a guard placed over the entrance to keep every one away from it. This was told me by Major Santelle, commandant of the fort.

Fort Jackson mounted 33 32-pounders on main parapet, 2 columbiads on main parapet, 1 rifle gun on main parapet, 2 columbiads in 2d bastion, 1 9-inch mortar in 2d bastion, 1 columbiad in 3d bastion, 2 8-inch mortars in 3d bastion. 8 32-pounders in northwest casemates, 6 32-pounder guns in northeast casemates, 10 short guns in bastion casemates, 2 brass field pieces, 2 rifled guns in water battery, 1 10-inch columbiad in water battery, 1 9-inch columbiad in water battery, 3 32-pounder guns on outer curtain-75 guns in all.

I am not positive about the calibre of the guns. Those that I called 32-pounders had a calibre of 6.4 inches, and I am not quite positive that there are 10 short 32-pounder guns in the bastion casemates, though such is my recollection. Of these guns four were dismounted, but I could not see that the gun proper was injured in any case; of the gun carriages eleven were struck, several of them being entirely destroyed; and of the traverses no less than thirty were injured. A large proportion of the last injured were on the western side of the outer curtain (where only these guns were mounted), twenty out of thirty-nine being more or less injured.

The ramparts of the fort proper were very severely damaged on every side; but particularly on the two northern ones; there has been great patching with sand bags needed; several of the entrances from the parade ground under the ramparts are masses of ruins, some of them being one-third choked up with debris.

The casemates are cracked from end to end; one of the bastion casemates has the roof broken through in three places; another in one place, and its walls are so badly cracked that daylight shines through very plainly, the cracks being about four inches wide.

The entrances to the casemates are nearly all damaged, the roofs cracked and masses of brick thrown down or loosened. All the buildings were destroyed by fire or bomb-shells, the two western bastions and the citadel being completely burned out. The walls of the citadel are cracked in many places very badly.

Eighty-six shot and splinters of shell struck its faces. The amount of damage here reported would hardly be credited by any one who had taken a casual survey of the premises, and I myself should have considered it exaggerated if I had read it after passing through hastily the first time. After careful examination, however, the impression left on my mind is of a place far gone on the road to ruin, which will stand but little more before it will come down about its defenders' ears. Everything about the fort appears to have started from its place, some hardly preceptible, others so much that it would be hard to find where the proper place is.

I do not profess an acquaintance with such matters, but it looks to me as if the whole structure would have to be demolished and rebuilt, if the government ever intend to fortify the site again.

I have thus, sir, hastily thrown together the more important part of the information I was able to collect; had my time been more extended I might have been able to gather more of the incidents of the siege; and had I supposed it desirable to reduce it to writing I might have obtained a fuller account from those I did question; but my conversation was merely to gratify my own curiosity and pass away an unoccupied hour. Hoping that you may find this communication of some value, I remain,

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Joseph Harris. F. H. Gerdes, Esq., Assistant United States Coast Survey.

1 The ordnance and hospital stores were shipped on the United States steamer Kensington. which was prevented by bad weather, breaking of machinery, and other causes, from reaching her destination as early as designed. She arrived, however, in season.

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