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[155] of the latter kind of vessels had just been demonstrated by the battles in Hampton Roads, that Farragut was about to venture with his wooden ships under the converging fire of the forts of New Orleans. The inhabitants of the latter city, therefore, felt perfectly safe. They predicted for the Federals the fate of the English expedition which Andrew Jackson had so entirely defeated under their walls in 1815. The position of New Orleans seemed to justify these expectations. In the preceding volume we have already described the flat and marshy country extending south of this city, the peculiar formation of the bed of the Mississippi, which, like the Nile and the rivers of Holland, runs over a sand-shallow (dos daane) incessantly banked up by its own alluvia and the natural levees which enclose it for a great distance into the sea, which, giving to its mouth the aspect of a series of promontories, deceived the first explorers of the Mexican Gulf. The waters of the river all along the delta are of great depth; there are none of those sand-banks which render the navigation of its upper course so dangerous. But below the Tete-des-Passes, at the point where each branch empties its waters into the sea, there have been formed, as at the entrance of all large rivers, difficult bars, on which there are but three or four fathoms of water. New Orleans is situated on the west bank, one hundred and sixty kilometres above these mouths, but only separated by a few kilometres from Lake Borgne, where the waters which the levees allow to escape discharge themselves through numerous channels, or bayous, to use a local term. It is impossible, however, to attack the city on this side, because Lake Borgne is very shallow, and the space between its shores and the levee upon which New Orleans stands is occupied by large and impassable swamps. A few unimportant works were amply sufficient to cover the city back of these swamps. Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which, as we have said, protected the lower course of the river and commanded the real approaches to the great city of the South, are situated at about sixty kilometres from the passes of the Mississippi. Fort St. Philip, on the left bank of the river, was established by the Spaniards, and had recently been reconstructed under the superintendence of Captain Barnard, a Federal officer of engineers, who had since been placed at the head of that

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