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[158] was stretched from bank to bank, at a point where the Mississippi is only six hundred and sixty metres wide. Large trunks of cypress, ten metres in length and placed in the direction of the current at short distances apart, supported this chain, and the whole was firmly kept in position by seven anchors placed up stream. Unfortunately for the Confederates, this formidable obstacle obstructed the course of the river but too effectually. When its waters began to rise in the spring, overflowing both banks and surrounding all the approaches to the forts with an impassable barrier for infantry, they bore down all the rubbish which the Mississippi washes away from the forests that lie on its upper banks, and which it yearly sweeps down into the sea. Being stopped by this barrier, the accumulated trunks soon formed a floating mass reaching as far as Fort St. Philip, and a day naturally came when the weight of this mass broke the obstacle which had held it back. This occurred at the end of February. By means of contributions from the inhabitants of New Orleans —for the Confederate exchequer was empty—Lovell set himself to work to repair this disaster. Eleven hulks of brigs were anchored in the river and bound together by a slight chain, which, rising and sinking alternately, allowed the floating matter to pass, while the rigging of these vessels, lowered into the space which separated them, would become entangled with the screws of the vessels which should approach them. Only a portion of the old raft was kept on the right bank of the river. A narrow passage was contrived for Confederate vessels which might desire to reach the open sea. This obstacle was still sufficiently effective to stop the Federal fleet for some time, and thus kept it exposed to the converging fire of more than one hundred guns placed upon the two banks.

Indeed, the two large forts and their dependent batteries mounted one hundred and fifty guns. Fort St. Philip, situated on the salient angle of an elbow in the river, enfiladed it in two directions. Fort Jackson, situated a little lower down, was of larger dimensions. It was a regular pentagon, with a curtain one hundred and fifty metres long, and commanded all the surrounding country with the exception of a portion of the levee on the right bank, which, two kilometres lower down, was masked by a dense forest. It mounted seventy-five guns; but some

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