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[512] but I thought it a fire-raft behind the Fort, as they continually send them down on us, but without any effect.

But few casualties occurred to vessels on this side of the Forts. The Harriet Lane lost but one man killed, and one, I fear, mortally wounded. The Winona lost three killed and three wounded, and the Itasca, with fourteen shot through her, had but few men hurt.

These Forts can hold out still for some time, and I would suggest that the Monitor and Mystic, if they can be spared, be sent here without a moment's delay, to settle the question.

The mortar-fleet have been very much exposed, and under a heavy fire for six days, during which time they kept the shells going without intermission. One of them, the Maria I. Carlton, was sunk by a shot passing down through her magazine, and then through her bottom.

The flotilla lost but one man killed and six wounded. The bearing of the officers and men was worthy of the highest praise. They never once flagged during a period of six days; never had an accident to one of the vessels by firing, and when shell and shot were flying thick above them showed not the least desire to have the vessels moved to a place of safety. The incidents of the bombardment will be mentioned in my detailed report. I merely write this hurried letter to apprize the Department of the state of affairs, and shall send it off at once via Havana.

The sight of this night attack was awfully grand. The river was lit up with rafts filled with pine-knots, and the ships seemed to be fighting literally amidst flames and smoke. Where we were the fire of the enemy was high, and comparatively harmless.

I am in hopes that the ships above fared as well as we did. Though amid such a terrific fire, it was gratifying to see that not a ship wavered, but stood steady on her course; and I am in hopes (and I see no reason to doubt it) that they now have possession of New-Orleans.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

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

United States steamer Harriet Lane, Mississippi River, April 25, 1862.
Capt. Boggs has just arrived through a cut through the swamps, and brings the following additional intelligence: The Varuna was sunk; about one hundred men were killed and wounded; ships all ready for another fight; no obstructions on the way to New-Orleans. Eleven confederate vessels sunk and burnt in passing the Forts. Gen. Butler is about to land men the back way, six miles above the Forts. No officers killed or wounded. Soldiers captured miserably armed, and without ammunition.



Com. Porter's Second report.

U. S. Ship Harriet Lane, April 29, 1862.
sir: The morning after the ships passed the Forts I sent a demand to Col. Higgins for a surrender of the Forts, which was declined. On the twenty-seventh I sent Lieut.-Col. Higgins a communication, herewith enclosed, asking again for the surrender. His answer is enclosed. On the twenty-eighth 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. The three steamers remaining were under the command of Com. 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 capitulation 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, throwing the shot above 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 was on board of them a number of naval officers and two companies of marine artillery. I made them surrender unconditionally, and for their infamous conduct in 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 Forts to Gen. Phelps. Fort Jackson is a perfect ruin. I am told that over eighteen hundred 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 sunk one gunboat 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


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