Personal Experience of a Union Veteran
About the middle of April General Butler
learned that Farragut
's fleet had crossed the bar and was ready to proceed up the Mississippi
Six regiments and two batteries were immediately embarked on sailing transports and started for the front.
On the eighteenth—although about sixty miles away—we heard the gentle voice of Porter
's fifteen-inch mortars.
Then came the cheering account of Farragut
's passing the forts—Jackson and St. Philip
—and later the landing of General Butler
in New Orleans on the first of May.
Other troops were sent forward as transportation could be furnished, till early in May the Thirteenth Maine
only was left on the island.
‘Many are called, but few are chosen,’ was my comment at the time; and we were the chosen few. Some of the boys regarded this as punishment, but punishment for what?
No adequate answer was forthcoming.
We had been inspected by General Butler
himself, and very recently by a regular army officer, who pronounced the Thirteenth Maine second to no regiment in the department.
Until the forts below New Orleans were captured, Ship Island
was the only approach to the city held by Union troops, and it was of the last importance that it should be garrisoned by reliable troops.
Of course we exercised a soldier's prerogative, and grumbled and chafed at our seemingly inglorious assignment; and yet we were performing a most important military duty.
As a relief from the monotony of our service here, we occasionally