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[186]

January 20th, that must have rejoiced his heart. It is very evident that the preliminary plan had been well thought out. The details were left to his discretion.

Sir: When the Hartford is in all respects ready for sea, you will proceed to the Gulf of Mexico with all possible despatch, and communicate with Flag-Officer W. W. McKean, who is directed by the inclosed despatch to transfer to you the command of the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. . . . There will be attached to your squadron a fleet of bomb-vessels, and armed steamers enough to manage them, all under command of Commander D. D. Porter, who will be directed to report to you. As fast as these vessels are got ready, they will be sent to Key West to await the arrival of all, and the commanding officers, who will be permitted to organize and practise with them at that port.

When these formidable mortars arrive and you are completely ready, you will collect such vessels as can be spared from the blockade and proceed up the Mississippi River and reduce the defenses which guard the approaches to New Orleans, when you will appear off that city and take possession of it under the guns of your squadron, and hoist the American flag thereon, keeping possession until troops can be sent to you. If the Mississippi expedition from Cairo shall not have descended the river, you will take advantage of the panic to push a strong force up the river to take all their defenses in the rear. . . .

As you have expressed yourself satisfied with the force given to you, and as many more powerful vessels will be added before you can commence operations, the department and the country require of you success. . . . There are other operations of minor importance which will commend themselves to your judgment and skill, but which must not be allowed to interfere with the great object in view, the certain capture of the city of New Orleans. . . .

A month later, to a day, Farragut, in the Hartford, was at the appointed rendezvous, Ship Island in the Gulf, not far from the mouth of the Mississippi, and his squadron began to gather around him. Preparations and plans had to be made, but under the competent direction and cooperation of his staff, affairs began to take proper shape. On the 25th of March,

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