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 Mississippi, and applications were made to have the ship Louisiana sent up the river as soon as she was completed. The interior lines of defense mounted more than sixty guns of various caliber, and were surrounded by wide and deep ditches. On the various water approaches, including bays and bayous on the west and east sides of the river, there were sixteen different forts, and these, together with those on the river and the batteries of the interior line, had in position about three hundred guns. One ironclad, the Louisiana, mounting sixteen guns of heavy caliber, though she was not quite completed, was sent down to cooperate with the forts. Her defective steam-power and imperfect steering apparatus prevented her from rendering active cooperation. The steamship Mississippi, then under construction at New Orleans, was in such an unfinished condition as to be wholly unavailable when the enemy arrived. In the opinion of naval officers she would have been, if completed, the most powerful ironclad then in the world, and could have driven the enemy's fleet out of the river and raised the blockade at Mobile. There were also several small river steamers which were lightly armed, and their bows were protected so that they could act as rams and otherwise aid in the defense of the river; from the reports received, however, they seem, with a few honorable exceptions, to have rendered little valuable service. The means of defense mainly relied on, therefore, were the two heavily armed forts, Jackson and St. Philip, with the obstruction placed between them: this was a raft consisting of cypress trees forty feet long, and averaging four or five feet at the larger end. They were placed longitudinally in the river, about three feet apart, and held together by gunwales on top, and strung upon two two-and-a-half-inch chain cables fastened to their lower sides. This raft was anchored in the river, abreast of the forts. The fleet of the enemy below the forts consisted of seven steam sloops of war, twelve gunboats, and several armed steamers, under Commodore Farragut; also, a mortar fleet consisting of twenty sloops and some steam vessels. The whole force was forty-odd vessels of different kinds, with an armament of three hundred guns of heavy caliber, of improved models. The bombardment of the forts by the mortar fleet commenced on April 18th, and after six days of vigorous and constant shelling the resisting power of the forts was not diminished in any perceptible degree. On the 23d there were manifest preparations by the enemy to attempt
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