vigilance, and discipline, rendered them useless and helpless, when the enemy finally dashed upon them suddenly in a dark night. I regret very much that the department did not think it advisable to grant my request to place some competent head in charge of these steamers. Learning, subsequently, that the Louisiana was anchored above the forts and that the firerafts were not sent down, I telegraphed Captain Mitchell, requesting him to attend to it, and afterwards called upon Commodore Whittle and entreated him to order the steamer to take the desired position below the forts. This he declined to do, but telegraphed Captain Mitchell, telling him “to strain a point to place the vessel there, if, in his judgment, it was advisable.” No change, however, was made, and in the night of the twenty-third March, I went down myself in a steamboat to urge Captain Mitchell to have the Louisiana anchored in the position indicated, also to ascertain why the fire-rafts were not sent down. A few moments after the attack commenced, and the enemy succeeded in passing with fourteen ships, as described in General Duncan's report, and the battle of New Orleans, as against ships of war, was over, I returned at once to the city, narrowly escaping capture, and giving orders to General Smith, in command of the interior lines, to prepare to make all possible resistance to the enemy's fleet at the earthwork batteries below the town, instructed Colonel Lovell to have several steamers ready to remove, as far as possible, the commissary and ordnance stores, being satisfied that the low developments at Chalmette could offer no protracted resistance to a powerful fleet, whose guns, owing to the high water, looked down upon the surface of the country, and could sweep away any number of infantry by an enfilading fire. These lines, as before remarked, were intended mainly to repel a land attack, but in a high stage of water were utterly untenable by infantry against guns afloat. It having been reported to me that a sufficient number of desperately bold men could easily be got together to board the enemy's vessels and carry them by assault, I authorized Major James to seize such steamers as might be necessary for his purpose, and to attempt it. He called for one thousand men by public advertisement, but being able to find but about a hundred who would undertake it, he abandoned the project. On the morning of the twenty-fifth the enemy's fleet advanced upon the batteries and opened fire, which was returned with spirit by the troops as long as their powder lasted, but with little apparent effect upon the enemy. The powder intended for this battery of thirty-two-pounders had been transferred by me to the steamer Louisiana a few days before, under the supposition that it would render much better service from her heavy rifles and shell guns than with a battery of light thirty-twos. For the operations at these works, you are respectfully referred to General Smith's report. The greater portion of the ordnance stores, provisions, and quarantine property, were sent from the city by rail or steamer, and a portion of the volunteers also took the cars for Camp Moore, seventy-eight miles distant on the Jackson Railroad. The greater part of the ninety-days' troops disbanded and returned to their homes. There were two or three regiments and smaller bodies of men raised for Confederate service, in the city at the time, but being entirely without arms of any kind they could be of no service, and were also ordered to Camp Moore. I adopted this course, recognizing the perfect absurdity of confronting more than one hundred guns afloat of the largest calibre, well manned and served, and looking down upon the city, with less than three thousand militia, mostly armed with indifferent shot guns. It would, in my judgment, have been a wanton and criminal waste of the blood of women and children, without the possibility of any good result, for the enemy had only to anchor one of his ships at Kenner to command the Jackson Railroad, and he could have reduced the city to ashes at his leisure, without being able to make any resistance whatever. Why he did not occupy Kenner and cut off all exit from the city immediately, I do not understand. Presuming that he would do so, as a matter of course, I had requested Captains Poindexter and Gwathney, of the navy, to have all the steamers ready in Lake Pontchartrain, to carry the troops over to Madisonville, whence they could reach Camp Moore, A portion of them were taken over by this route. Knowing that the enemy would at once seize the Opelousas Railroad, and thus cut off the troops occupying the works on the coast of West Louisiana, I sent orders to the different commanding officers at Ports Livingston, Guiorr, Quitman, Berwick, and Chene, to destroy their guns, and taking their small arms, provisions, and ammunition, to join me at Camp Moore. Major Joy brought away the troops at the two latter forts in a very creditable manner, but those at the other works became demoralized, disbanded, and retured to New Orleans. I gave verbal instructions to Colonel Fuller to have the garrisons of Forts Pike and Macomb, battery Bienvenu, and Tower Dupre, ready to move at a moment's notice, as their posts were dependent on the city for provisions, and frequently for water. It was understood that the naval steamers, in connection with other vessels in the lake, should bring away these garrisons when called upon to do so; and after my arrival at Camp Moore, orders were given on the twenty-sixth to go for them, as I had been informed that Forts Jackson and St. Philip had been surrendered. Finding that this report was untrue, I immediately countermanded the orders, giving instructions that they should be held until further notice, but before either could reach Madisonville it was reported that the whole command was already at Covington. I advised Captain Poindexter to make his way to Mobile with his armed steamers, but he concluded to destroy them. We, however, procured from them some of the guns
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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