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 The garrisons of Forts Jackson and St. Philip were about one thousand men on December 5, 1861; afterward, so far as I know, the number was not materially changed. The prevailing belief that vessels of war, in a straight, smooth channel, could pass batteries, led to the construction of a raft between the two forts which, it was supposed, would detain the ships under fire of the forts long enough for the guns to sink them, or at least to compel them to retire. The power of the river when in flood, and the driftwood it bore upon it, broke the raft; another was constructed which, when the driftwood accumulated upon it, met a like fate. Whether obstructions differently arranged—such as booms secured to the shores, with apparatus by which they could be swung across the channel when needful, or logs such as were used, except that, being unconnected together, but each separately secured by chain and anchor, they might severally yield to the pressure of the driftwood, sinking, so as to allow it to pass over them, and, when relieved of the weight, rising again—or whether other expedient could have been made permanent and efficient, is a problem which need not be discussed, as the time for its application has passed from us. The general plan for the defense of New Orleans consisted of two lines of works: an exterior one, passing through the forts near the mouth of the river, and the positions taken to defend the various water approaches; nearer to the city was the interior line, embracing New Orleans and Algiers, which was intended principally to repel an attack by land but also, by its batteries on the river bank, to resist approach by water. The total length of the entrenchments on this interior line was more than eight miles. When completed it formed, in connection with impassable swamps, a very strong line of defense. At the then high stage of the river, all the land between it and the swamps was so saturated with water that regular approaches could not have been made. The city, therefore, was at the time supposed to be doubly secure from a land attack. In the winter of 1861-62 I sent one of my aides-de-camp to New Orleans to make a general inspection and hold free conference with the commanding general. Upon his return, he reported to me that General Lovell was quite satisfied with the condition of the land defenses—so much so as to say that his only fear was that the enemy would not make a land attack. Considered since the event, it may seem strange that after the fall of Donelson and Henry and the employment of the enemy's gunboats in the Tennessee and Cumberland, it was still generally argued that the danger to New Orleans was that the gunboats would descend the
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