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[157] each carrying twenty guns. The Richmond government had decided that these vessels, with fourteen river-boats more or less armored, should proceed to the Upper Mississippi as soon as completed to contend with Foote; but the danger which threatened New Orleans was so great that Lovell succeeded, by force of entreaty, in obtaining permission to retain these vessels, as well as six of the gun-boats. The other eight were taken from him. Nevertheless, at the end of March the Confederate flotilla found itself in a condition to afford powerful aid to Forts Jackson and St. Philip if they should be attacked by the Federals. It consisted of the Louisiana, which had at last been completed; the ram Manassas, which had already caused so much alarm to the Federal ships the preceding year, and which had been sent back to New Orleans by order of Beauregard; six river-boats, the Warrior, the Stonewall Jackson, the Resolute, the Defiance, the Governor Moore and the General Quitman, most of them protected by iron plates and cotton-bales, each armed with a beak; and five other vessels of the same description, equipped under the direction of the governor of Louisiana. But the Richmond authorities, unable to understand the necessity for a single command, had persisted in placing this flotilla under the orders of officers acting independently of the land-forces. Commodore Whipple, residing in New Orleans, with Captain Mitchell as second in authority, had the exclusive command of the vessels charged with the defence of the passes. During the whole siege Mitchell declined all concert of action with the defenders of the forts, refused to listen to Lovell's advice or the requests of Duncan, and by his inaction during the bombardment exposed himself to severe but just criticisms on the part of his comrades.

The Confederates, however, on being informed of the approach of Farragut's fleet, had not deemed these vessels to be a sufficient protection for New Orleans, and wanted to close the entrance of the Mississippi, just as the Russians had closed the port of Sebastopol. But the great depth of the river, which is from fifteen to twenty-five fathoms, did not allow of vessels being sunk in its bed, as even their masts would have disappeared under the waters. Lovell attempted to supply this kind of obstruction by means of a floating barrier or dam. An enormous chain, brought from Pensacola,

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