on the Governor
for 10,000 militia-receiving for answer that there were but 6,000, of whom half lad just been sent to Tennessee
, upon the requisition of Gen. Beauregard
--and placing his department under martial law,2
turned their attention almost entirely to the lower Mississippi
It was high time.
A great raft, or boom, composed of cypress-trees 40 feet long and 4 to 5 feet through, standing 3 feet apart, and fastened to two great 2 1/2-inch chain-cables, had been stretched across the river jut under the guns of Forts Jackson
and St. Philip
, and made fast to large trees, immense anchors, timbers, &c., imbedded as firmly as possible; but the annual flood in the Mississippi
, which commences early in the year, had, by the first of March, brought its surface considerably above the country out-side of its levees, and piled against the obstructions a large amount of drift-wood; softening the earth and strengthening the current, until the anchors and other hold-fasts gave way, and the raft, with its chains snapped and its timbers swept down stream, ceased to be an impediment.
But for the delays and disappointments which so sorely taxed Gen. Butler
's patience, it is likely that our fleet would have found this their most formidable antagonist.
Lovell at once sent down Col. Higgins
to repair it, clothed with the amplest powers; but the Father
of Waters refused to recognize them.
A new obstruction was patched up, composed of parts of the old raft, with schooners anchored in the interstices, and all fastened together with such chains as could be procured; but the net result was more formidable in appearance than in reality.
And still the river kept on rising, until nearly all tlhe adjacent country was submetrged, becoming temporarily a l art of the Gulf of Mexico
Even the parade-plain and casemates of Fort Jackson
were from 3 to 18 inches under water, and its magazines were only kept dry by incessant pumping.
had been superseded as naval commandant by Commodore Whittle
, whose fleet consisted of the new iron-clad Louisiana
, mounting 16 guns, many of them large and excellent, with Hollins
's ram Manassas
and 13 gunboats — that is, commercial steamboats, impressed or lent for this service, and armed and manned as well as might be — with a number of old sailing craft fitted up as fireships, and very dangerous to wooden vessels attacking from below, by reason of the uniform strength of the current.
Gen. J. K. Duncan
, who had been appointed by Lovell
to the command of the coast defenses, and had thereupon repaired3
to Fort Jackson
, had been working the garrisons of both forts night and day, covering their main magazines with sand-bags; which had been barely completed when our fleet hove in sight.
Two gunboats had appeared, reconnoitering, four days before.
Our naval force consisted of 47 armed vessels, 8 of them large and powerful steam sloops-of-war; 17 heavily armed steam gunboats, 2 sailing sloops-of-war, and 21 mortar-schooners, each throwing a 215-pound shell.
The steam sloops carried from 9 to 28 guns; the gunboats, 5 to 6 guns