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[167] distance coming up the river to assist the latter. Farragut immediately ordered the sloop-of-war Mississippi to go and attack her. Before these two vessels were able to come in contact the Manassas had already received the fire of two or three gun-boats. The Mississippi, with a full head of steam, came down upon her; but as she was about being boarded the nimble Confederate eluded the blow and struck the side of the Mississippi, when, recognizing the impossibility of continuing the contest, she steered rapidly for the shore. The Federals tried in vain to capture her and set her afloat, but the fire of Fort St. Philip prevented them; so they riddled her with shell, which set her on fire. The current soon raised her and carried her off. Thus abandoned and enveloped in smoke, the Manassas drifted slowly down the river, and passing the forts she had not been able to defend arrived at last in front of Porter's flotilla, to which her appearance caused at first considerable alarm. The Federals, however, soon perceived that this enemy, hitherto so much dreaded, was only an inanimate body, and while they were preparing to board her she was seen to go down with a hissing sound like that of burning coal falling in the water, and sinking never to rise again.

The contest was ended for the moment. The inhabitants of New Orleans, whose fate had just been decided, had reposed that night in quiet and confidence. They had soon become accustomed to the bombardment, the distant echo of which sometimes reached them, and they had easily persuaded themselves that the enemy would never be able to pass the two forts. It was therefore with feelings impossible to describe that they learned, on the morning of the 24th, that the Federal fleet had forced the passage, and that nothing could prevent it from bringing its broadsides to bear upon the very wharves of the capital. Although the more distinct sound of cannon, indicating the approach of Farragut, confirmed this news, they could not yet credit so great and so unforeseen a disaster; but the most incredulous became convinced when they saw the authorities themselves set fire to the dockyards of the navy. The scene of confusion and desolation of which this conflagration was the signal is nowhere better described than in the work of the Confederate historian Pollard, who cannot be suspected of exaggeration. Those who only the day before were

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