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[168] earnestly at work to finish the Mississippi and other vessels intended for the defence of the city, were now hastening to destroy them; they set them on fire and pushed them violently into the river, which swallowed them, together with munitions of all kinds. Tile spirit of destruction is contagious; the blockade-runners, which had not been able to get out since the occupation of the passes by Farragut, but which nothing prevented from ascending the river, were in their turn ruthlessly destroyed. Enormous bales of cotton that these vessels were to take to Europe were still piled up along the wharves; part of them were thrown into the water, the rest were soon consumed by fire. The people went about in search of all the cotton that was in the warehouses of the city to destroy it likewise. In doing this they followed the prescriptions of the Confederate government, which, relying upon a dearth of cotton as a means for compelling Europe to intervene in its behalf, had particularly recommended to allow none of it to fall into the hands of the enemy.

The river was covered with burning fragments, which it carried down to meet Farragut, as if to reveal to him sooner the extent of his success. In proportion as the day advanced the excitement in the city increased; the atmosphere was filled with a thick smoke, and the sound of the tocsin rung by every church-bell mingled with the crackling of flames and the sound of explosions. Presently the inhabitants of New Orleans perceived groups of horsemen advancing along the Mississippi levee; they recognized General Lovell and a few officers, who, after having been present at the nocturnal combat, had succeeded, not without difficulty, in passing the enemy's fleet. They were immediately surrounded and plied with questions. They related the circumstances of the battle, the courage displayed by the gunners and seamen, and the complete destruction of the fleet. But where was Farragut, and what was to be done? Farragut was approaching, and any attempt to defend the city against him would be only to subject it to all the horrors of a bombardment. Lovell had left a few troops below to impede the progress of the Federals, and to serve the twelve guns of the Chalmette batteries, erected on both sides of the river to protect the enclosure he had constructed. For a moment he thought of attempting a desperate stroke by boarding

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