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[110]

This order had the desired effect, and in the course of the afternoon, Lieutenant Stribling returned, bringing with him, the Captain of the Association, and several of the pilots. I directed them to be brought into my cabin, and when they were assembled, demanded to know the reason of their late behavior. Some stammering excuses were offered, which I cut short, by informing them that one of them must remain on board constantly, and that they might determine for themselves, who should take the first week's service; to be relieved at the end of the week, by another, and so on, as long as I should find it necessary. One of their number being designated, I dismissed the rest. The reader will see how many faithful auxiliaries, Admiral Farragut afterward found, in the Pilots' Association of the mouths of the Mississippi, when he made his famous ascent of the river, and captured its great seaport. Nor was this defection confined to New Orleans. The pilots along our whole Southern coast were, with few exceptions, Northern men, and as a rule they went over to the enemy, though pretending, in the beginning of our troubles, to be good secessionists. The same remark may be applied to our steamboat men, of Northern birth, as a class. Many of them had become domiciled in the South, and were supposed to be good Southern men, until the crucial test of self-interest was applied to them, when they, too, deserted us, and took service with the enemy.

The object of the Brooklyn's boat, which, as we have seen, pulled into the telegraph station at Pass à L'Outre, just before we got under way from between the forts, was to cut the wires, and break up the station, to prevent intelligence being given me of the movements of the blockading fleet. I now resorted to a little retaliation. I dispatched an officer to the different light-houses, to stave the oil-casks, and bring away the lighting apparatus, to prevent the enemy's shipping from using the lights. They were of great convenience, not only to the ships employed on the blockade, but to the enemy's transports, and other ships, bound to and from the coast of Texas. They could be of no use to our own blockade-runners, as the passes of the Mississippi, by reason of their long, and tortuous, and frequently shifting channels, were absolutely closed to them.

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