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Chapter 28:

  • Naval affairs, continued
  • -- importance of New Orleans -- attack feared from up the River -- preparations for defense -- strength of the forts -- the General plan -- ironclads -- raft fleet of the enemy -- bombardment of the forts commenced -- advance of the fleet -- batteries below the city -- evacuation of the city by General Lovell on appearance of the enemy -- address of General Duncan to soldiers in the forts -- refusal to surrender -- meeting of the garrison of Fort Jackson -- the forts surrendered -- ironclad Louisiana de-stroyed -- tugs and steamers -- the governor Moore -- the enemy's ship Varuna sunk -- the McRae -- the state of the city and its defenses -- public indignation; its victims -- efforts made for its defense by the Navy Department -- construction of the Mississippi.

New Orleans was the most important commercial port in the Confederacy, being the natural outlet of the Mississippi valley, as well to the ports of Europe as to those of Central and South America. It was the depot which, at an early period, had led to controversies with Spain, and its importance to the interior had been a main inducement to the purchase of Louisiana. It had become before 1861 the chief cotton mart of the United States, and its defense attracted the early attention of the Confederate government. The approaches for an attacking party were numerous. They could through several channels enter Lake Pontchartrain, to approach the city in rear for land attack, could ascend the Mississippi from the Gulf, or descend it from the Northwest, where it was known that the enemy was preparing a formidable fleet of ironclad gunboats. In the early part of 1862, so general an opinion prevailed that the greatest danger to New Orleans was by an attack from above, that General Lovell sent to General Beauregard a large part of the troops then in the city.

At the mouth of the Mississippi there is a bar, the greatest depth of water on which seldom exceeded eighteen feet, and it was supposed that heavy vessels of war, with their armament and supplies, would not be able to cross it. Such proved to be the fact, and the vessels of that class had to be lightened to enable them to enter the river. In that condition of affairs, an inferior fleet might have engaged them with a prospect of success. Captain Hollins, who was in command of the squadron at New Orleans, and who had on a former occasion shown his fitness for such

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M. Lovell (2)
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