not obstruct the river or throw the Union fleet into confusion while passing the forts.’
On page 940, Admiral Porter
says: ‘We had kept up a heavy fire night and day (from the mortar fleet) for nearly five days—about 2,800 shells every twenty-four hours.’
This was kept up from behind a point of land below Fort Jackson
, upon which, by some short-sightedness on the Confederate
side, the military commander
had allowed the trees to remain uncut down, so that the shells from the mortars could be thrown over the trees into Forts Jackson
and St. Philip
, while the mortar vessels were not visible from the forts.
This was the fire which General Duncan
wished the Louisiana
, by dropping down, to divert from the forts to herself.
When the suggestion was urged, Commodore Mitchell
had a consultation with his officers.
It was decided, and wisely, that it was injudicious, for the reason that it would place her under the fire of the whole Federal fleet commanded by Admiral Farragut
, without its being in her power to reach them by a single shot, in consequence of her ports not admitting of an elevation of more than five degrees; and in addition, to the terrific fire of Admiral Porter
's mortar fleet—‘2,800 shells in twenty-four hours’—any one of which, falling upon her unprotected upper deck, would have gone through her bottom and sunk her, under which combined fires it would be impossible for any work to be done on our machinery, which we so hoped to complete in time for service when the Federals
should come up. Is it not, then, unjust to thus speak of Commodore Mitchell
Is it not conclusive that in his refusal to do so ill-judged a thing, he proved rather that he was
the man for the occasion?
At the time that Admiral Farragut
's fleet ran the batteries, Commodore Mitchell
's command consisted of the still helplessly immovable Louisiana
, Commander Charles F. McIntosh
, the converted merchant propeller, McRae
, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas Huger
, and the little ram, Manassas
, Lieutenant-Commander Alexander F. Warley
That all these were fought bravely, and as efficiently as their character and condition admitted of, was thoroughly established.
The courageous McIntosh
received mortal wounds, to say nothing of many other brave spirits.
The officers and men of these necessarily illy constructed, illy armed and provided, and incomplete substitutes for vessels of war, went out to fight, and did fight, each, as it came up, one of the most powerful naval fleets that this country ever fitted out, with all the improvements and facilities