Twice had Farragut
been compelled to postpone the advance up the river, but on the night of the 23d everything was in readiness; Lieutenant Caldwell
, in a ten-oared boat, made another daring reconnaissance on the evening of the 23d, and reported that the way through the obstructions was clear.
Somehow, the Confederates
must have known that the time had come, for as early as eleven o'clock they had lighted immense piles of wood along the shores and turned loose their burning rafts.
It was five minutes to two on the morning of the 24th when two red lights appeared at the flagship's peak, the signal for getting under way. The first division of eight vessels under command of Captain Bailey
passed through the opening in the obstructions and headed for Fort St. Philip
In less than ten minutes Bailey
's vessels were replying to the concentrated fire that was poured in upon them.
, on the Varuna
, accompanied by the Oneida
, had kept in close to shore, and thus escaped a great deal of the fire of the heavy guns that had been elevated and pointed to cover the midchannel.
But now Bailey
's division found that there were more than land batteries to contend with — they had to meet the Confederate fleet.
, fired upon and rammed by the Louisiana State
gunboat Governor Moore
and River Defense ram Stonewall Jackson
, was forced to run into shoal water where she promptly sunk to her topgallant forecastle.
The Confederate vessels were so pierced by the Varuna's
fire that they, too, were run ashore in flames.
, which had already disabled one of the Confederate gunboats, came up and received the surrender of the Confederate Commander Kennon
and the crew of the burning Governor Moore
As the Brooklyn
came through the opening in the barrier, she ran afoul of the little Kineo
and almost sank her. A few minutes later the ugly shape of the turtle-back ram Manassas
appeared almost under the Brooklyn's
Had she not changed her course a little all would have been over, but the blow glanced from the chain armor slung along her sides.