Between the two forts was a force of 1,500 men. Thus protected, manned, gunned, defended, the Confederate
colors floated defiantly from April 16th to April 27th.
The enemy's force consisted of twenty-one mortar schooners under Commander David Porter
, and a fleet of twenty-six armed vessels, of which eight were powerful sloops-of-war and eighteen steam gunboats.
This formidable fleet, under Captain Farragut
, the foremost officer of the United States navy, carried more than two hundred guns of heaviest caliber.
On Friday, at 9 a. m., the entire mortar fleet, aided by rifled guns from the gunboats, opened upon Fort Jackson
Our fire speedily disabled one gunboat and one mortar schooner.
At 7 p. m. the mortars ceased firing, after an expenditure of 2,996 shells.
Early in the fiery hail the quarters in the bastion, as well as the quarters immediately outside of the forts, were in flames.
The citadel, burning, endangered the magazines.
First failure to drive our fire-barges down on the enemy.
The next day the mortars opened at 6 a. m., to continue the battering throughout the day until the night.
When darkness came, the terrible rain fell more heavily and more surely on the forts.
Great damage was inflicted on our heavy guns.
Second failure of the fire-barges to appear.
Day and night the terrible shelling grew heavier and harder to bear with each renewal of the storm, until Thursday, April 24th, on which day before dawn a sinister silence fell for a moment upon the river.
At 3:30 a. m. it was broken by a portentous warning coming into the forts from the mortars.
Something was going on in the fleet below.
Darkness prevented sight, and a silence unbroken save by the swirl of the swollen waters.
In the darkness such an exploit as was never before recorded in naval warfare is about to begin.
Heretofore, the mortars have been vicious; now they become virulent.
They are masking the movements of the fleet which has been advancing quietly under their paralyzing din. A