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V. New Orleans and the Gulf.

Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, having, after the capture1 of Fort Hatteras, returned to the North to find himself an officer without soldiers or employment, sought and obtained permission from the War Department to raise, in the New England States, six regiments of volunteers for special and confidential service. This undertaking involved fitful collisions with the general efforts then being made by the authorities of all the States to raise troops for service under Gen. McClellan; and Gen. B. was peculiarly unfortunate in thus colliding with Gov. Andrew, of Massachusetts, from which State he naturally expected the larger number of his troops. But his indefatigable energy and activity at length triumphed over all impediments; he having meantime been appointed, in facilitation of his enterprise, commander of a new military department composed of the six New England States, with his headquarters at Boston. When his 6,000 men had been fully raised, and part of them dispatched, under Gen. J. W. Phelps, to Ship Island, he was stopped for a season by the lowering aspects of our relations with England, consequent on the seizure of Mason and Slidell; whose ultimate surrender he profoundly deprecated, believing that a war waged against us by Great Britain would double our effective military strength, while paralyzing that of the Rebellion, by the spectacle of hostilities waged against us in our extremity by that nation, which very many, alike in the North and in the South, regarded as our hereditary foe. The substitution2 of Mr. Edwin M. Stanton for Gen. Simon Cameron, as head of the War Department, caused some further delay, during which an order was once issued to send Gen. Butler's troops from Fortress Monroe to Port Royal; but it was, on his remonstrance, [82] annulled before it had been acted on.

Ship Island is one of quite a number of inconsiderable sand-bars which barely rise above the level of the Gulf between the months of the Mississippi and the Bay of Mobile. It is accounted 7 miles long by three-fourths of a mile in width, though its size, as well as its shape, is usually altered by each violent inland-driving storm. It has a good harbor at its western end, with groves of pine and stunted oak at the far east; while fresh water is obtained in plenty by sinking a barrel in the sand. Oysters and fish abound in the encircling waters; while the climate in Winter is soft, sunny, and tropical. New Orleans bears 65 miles W. S. W.; the mouth of Mobile Bay 50 miles E. N. E.; the mouths of the Mississippi from 90 to 110 S. S. W.; while Biloxi, on the Mississippi coast, is but 10 miles due north. Here Gen. Phelps and his brigade, having landed early in December, spent the Winter in very necessary drilling; the General having signalized his advent by issuing3 an elaborate proclamation to the loyal citizens of the Southwest, declaring Slavery incompatible with free institutions and free labor, and its overthrow the end and aim of our Government — a declaration most unlikely to increase the number of White loyal citizens at that time and in that quarter, while pretty certain to be carefully kept from the knowledge of most others. Its first result was a feeling of amazement and dissatisfaction among a part of Gen. Phelps's subordinates; while a single copy, taken to the Mississippi shore, and dispensed to the first comer, was there eagerly diffused and employed to arouse and embitter hostility to the Union.

Mobile had been generally guessed the object of Gen. Butler's mysterious expedition, whose destination was not absolutely fixed even in the councils of its authors. An effort to reannex Texas lad been considered, if not actually contemplated. It was finally decided, in a conference between Secretary Stanton and Gen. Butler, that a resolute attempt should be made on New Orleans; and though Gen. McClellan, when requested to give his opinion of the feasibility of the enterprise, reported that it could not be prudently undertaken with a less force than 50,000 men, while all that could be spared to Gen. Butler was 15,000, President Lincoln, after hearing all sides, gave judgment for the prosecution. A fortnight later, Gen. Butler went home to superintend the embarkation of the residue of his New England troops, 8,500 in number, 2,200 being already on ship-board, beside 2,000, under Phelps, at the Island. Three excellent Western regiments were finally spared him from Baltimore by Gen. McClellan. swelling his force on paper to 14,400 infantry, 580 artillery, 275 cavalry; total, 15,255 men, to which it was calculated that Key West might temporarily add two regiments, and Fort Pickens another, raising the aggregate to nearly 18,000. It in fact amounted, when collected at Ship Island, to 13,700.

Gen. Butler set out from Hampton Roads,4 in the steamship Mississippi, with his staff, his wife, and 1,400 men. The next night, the ship barely escaped wreck on a shoal off Hatteras Inlet; and the next day was [83] run hard upon the rocks five miles from land, off Cape Fear, while going at full speed. Her Captain, bewildered, gave the order to let go the bow anchor, when she instantly drove upon its fluke, piercing her forward compartments and letting in a deluge of water. An hour later, she was hard and fast upon Frying Pan Shoals, one compartment filled to the water-line, and her forward berths afloat, her Captain manifestly incompetent, and now nearly distracted. The coast in sight was strongly held by the enemy, whose horse patrol could be descried from the ship; and any Confederate cruiser, darting out from Cape Fear river, would have found the steamship and all on board an easy prey. An ordinary squall would very soon have broken up the vessel and strewed her wreck along the sands.

Toward noon, a steamer hove in sight, which, cautiously approaching, roved to be the U. S. gunboat Mount Vernon, of the squadron blockading Wilmington. Her commander, O. S. Glisson, came on board, and placed his vessel at the service of Gen. Butler. A hawser from the Mount Vernon was attached to the Mississippi, and many fruitless attempts made to drag her off. Three hundred of the soldiers were transferred to the Mount Vernon; shells were thrown overboard; and every device known to nautical experience tried to move the imperiled ship — all in vain. As the sun went down, the wind rose, and the waves swelled, till the huge ship began to roll and beat upon the rocks, the danger of wreck constantly increasing. At length, just after 7 P. M., and when the tide was within an hour of flood, she moved forward a few feet and was fairly afloat; slowly following the piloting Mount Vernon — the lead for a whole hour showing but six inches of water under her keel. At midnight. both cane to anchor in the Cape Fear, and were next morning, which was calm, on their way to Port Royal, where the Mississippi was unladen and repaired ; but was run aground again while moving down to the mouth of the harbor. The Captain was now deposed, Acting-Master Sturgis, of the Mount Vernon, appointed to his place; the troops once more debarked, and the ship pulled into deep water by the help of all the tugs in port. She again put to sea March 13th, having been eleven days in the port; and seven more brought her safely in sight of Ship Island; where so heavy a gale was blowing that landing troops was for two days impossible. It was the 25th of March when--30 days from Hampton Roads — they were debarked on that desolate sand-bank; where Gen. Butler was soon deep in consultation with Captains Farragut and Bailey, of the Navy, as well as with his military associates. Of these, Lt. Godfrey Weitzel, who had for two years been stationed at Fort St. Philip, and who had traversed all the adjacent country, duck-shooting, was able to give the fullest and most valuable information. Gen. Butler made him his chief engineer.

It was decided that the first attack on the forts defending the passage of the Mississippi below New Orleans should be made by the fleet; Capt. Porter, with his 21 bomb-schooners, anchoring below them and bombarding them till they should be reduced, [84] or his ammunition nearly exhausted. Capt. Farragut, with his larger and stronger vessels, would remain just out of fire as a reserve, awaiting the issue of the bombardment. That failing, he should attempt with his steamers to run by the forts. If he succeeded in this, he would try to clear the river of the enemy's fleet, isolate the forts, and push on so far as circumstances should dictate. Gen. Butler, so soon as Capt. Farragut had passed, was to land his troops from their transports in the rear of Fort St. Philip, and attempt to carry it by assault; while the enemy, supposing the swamps in that quarter impassable, should be entirely absorbed in his contest with the fleet. The forts being thus reduced, tlhe whole expedition would advance upon the city, in such manner as should then seem expedient. Gen. Butler engaged to have 6,000 men embarked on transports and ready for service in seven days; Capt. Farragut sailing at once for the mouths of the river, to prepare his fleet for action.

The troops were formed into three brigades, under Gens. Phelps and Williams, and Col. Shepley; 100 carpenters detailed to lake scaling-ladders; 100 boatmen to manage the 30 boats which were to make their way through the reedy creeks and marshes to the rear of Fort St. Philip. On the sixth day, 7 regiments and 2 batteries were embarked, awaiting the word to move from Capt. Farragut; but high winds and low tides obstructed the movements of the fleet; several of the larger vessels being many days in getting over the bar; so that Gen. Butler was obliged to disembark his troops and wear out another fortnight as patiently as he might.

Meantime, the Rebels alongshore, who had by this time become satisfied that New Orleans was aimed at, resorted to the expedients which had proved effective with most of our commanders up to that time, and which stood them in good stead with several for many months afterward. Having been compelled nearly to deplete the Gulf region of soldiers in order to make head against Grant and Buell on the Tennessee, they supplied their places with imaginary regiments and batteries5 in generous [85] profusion; but these were not the forces required to paralyze such commanders as Butler and Farragut. At length,6 the joyful tidings reached the former from the latter that his fleet was all over the bar, reloaded, and ready for action; and that he hoped to move up the river next day. Two days later, Gen. Butler, with his 8,000 troops, was at the mouth of the river.

New Orleans, situated on the left bank of the Mississippi, 100 miles above its mouths, with the large sheet of water known as Lake Pontchartrain closely approaching it on the north, and the smaller Lake Borgne some 20 miles distant on the east, was by far the largest and most important city of the Confederacy, with a population of 170,000, and the greatest export trade, just prior to the war of any city in the world. Unable to perceive the wisdom of expatriating those magnificent feeders of its commerce, the Missouri, the Ohio, and the upper Mississippi, a majority of its people had opposed Secession, until the carefully nursed tempest of pro-Slavery folly, fury, fanaticism, and ruffianism, stifled all outspoken dissent, about the time the war was formally opened by the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. Thenceforward, New Orleans became the virtual heart of the Confederacy; and its immense wealth of coin and produce was lavished in all directions in support of the military operations directed from Richmond. Regiment after regiment of Louisianians and foreign residents were raised and equipped here; but most of them had, when the hour of peril came, been drafted off, from time to time, to meet pressing exigencies on the Potomac and higher Mississippi, or the Tennessee; so that but about 3,000 of these, neither well armed, well drilled, nor particularly well affected to the cause, remained to dispute the advance of the Yankee invaders.

Gen. David E. Twiggs had been rewarded for his stupendous treachery to the Union in Texas, by the command of the Confederate defenses of New Orleans, until stern experience proved him as incalable, superannuated, and inefficient, as even our own Scott. At length, on a plea of declining health, lie was sent home to die; and Gen. Mansfield Lovell, who had abandoned a lucrative office under the Democratic municipality of New York to take service with tlhe Confederates, was appointed his successor.

On assuming command,7 Lovell found the defenses of the great slavemart more pretentious than formidable. The variety of water approaches )by Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne, and the Bayous Barataria and La Fourche, all needed defenses against an enemy of preponderant naval force; while even the Mississippi required fortifying and watching above as well as below, to render the city entirely safe. Artillery by parks was indispensable; and a good many guns had been supplied from the plunder of the Norfolk Navy Yard, and elsewhere; but most of them were old, of moderate caliber, unrifled, and every way unsuited to the requirements of modern warfare. He telegraphed to Richmond, to Mobile, and other points, for heavier and better cannon; but obtained very [86]

New Orleans and its approaches.

few, mainly from Pensacola, when that place was abandoned; and had just begun to cast new ones, adapted to his needs, as also to provide himself with iron-clads, when confronted by a military necessity for leaving that part of the country.

Lovell, knowing far better than our commanders the essential weakness of his position, and early warned of his danger by the gathering of our forces on Ship Island, seems to have exerted himself to the utmost. He had fortified and guarded all the land approaches to the city; so that, though Gen. Butler's army, had it advanced otherwise than by the Mississippi, would probally have carried it, the cost in time, effort, and blood, would doubtless have been far greater than that actually incurred. But the operations of Farragut, in and about the passes, gave unmistakable indications of the real point of danger; so that the Rebel General's forces and means of annoyance were mainly concentrated in and around Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which, from opposite banks, command the passage of the river, 75 miles below New Orleans. Beside these respectable and regularly constructed fortresses of brick and earth, abundantly supplied with smooth-bore 24 and 32-pounders, and a few better guns, Lovell and his naval compatricts, after blocking up most of the water approaches to New Orleans from, the Gulf with strongly-braced pile, green live-oaks, and other obstructions, and [87] calling8 on the Governor of Louisiana for 10,000 militia-receiving for answer that there were but 6,000, of whom half lad just been sent to Tennessee, upon the requisition of Gen. Beauregard--and placing his department under martial law,9 turned their attention almost entirely to the lower Mississippi. It was high time.

A great raft, or boom, composed of cypress-trees 40 feet long and 4 to 5 feet through, standing 3 feet apart, and fastened to two great 2 1/2-inch chain-cables, had been stretched across the river jut under the guns of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and made fast to large trees, immense anchors, timbers, &c., imbedded as firmly as possible; but the annual flood in the Mississippi, which commences early in the year, had, by the first of March, brought its surface considerably above the country out-side of its levees, and piled against the obstructions a large amount of drift-wood; softening the earth and strengthening the current, until the anchors and other hold-fasts gave way, and the raft, with its chains snapped and its timbers swept down stream, ceased to be an impediment. But for the delays and disappointments which so sorely taxed Gen. Butler's patience, it is likely that our fleet would have found this their most formidable antagonist. Lovell at once sent down Col. Higgins to repair it, clothed with the amplest powers; but the Father of Waters refused to recognize them. A new obstruction was patched up, composed of parts of the old raft, with schooners anchored in the interstices, and all fastened together with such chains as could be procured; but the net result was more formidable in appearance than in reality. And still the river kept on rising, until nearly all tlhe adjacent country was submetrged, becoming temporarily a l art of the Gulf of Mexico. Even the parade-plain and casemates of Fort Jackson were from 3 to 18 inches under water, and its magazines were only kept dry by incessant pumping.

Hollins had been superseded as naval commandant by Commodore Whittle, whose fleet consisted of the new iron-clad Louisiana, mounting 16 guns, many of them large and excellent, with Hollins's ram Manassas and 13 gunboats — that is, commercial steamboats, impressed or lent for this service, and armed and manned as well as might be — with a number of old sailing craft fitted up as fireships, and very dangerous to wooden vessels attacking from below, by reason of the uniform strength of the current.

Gen. J. K. Duncan, who had been appointed by Lovell to the command of the coast defenses, and had thereupon repaired10 to Fort Jackson, had been working the garrisons of both forts night and day, covering their main magazines with sand-bags; which had been barely completed when our fleet hove in sight. Two gunboats had appeared, reconnoitering, four days before.

Our naval force consisted of 47 armed vessels, 8 of them large and powerful steam sloops-of-war; 17 heavily armed steam gunboats, 2 sailing sloops-of-war, and 21 mortar-schooners, each throwing a 215-pound shell. The steam sloops carried from 9 to 28 guns; the gunboats, 5 to 6 guns [88] each; the whole number of guns and mortars was 310, many of them very heavy and very good. Capt. Farragut, our commander, had passed 52 of his 63 years in the navy, having been a midshipman in the war of 1812; a Tennessean, his loyalty was of that stern and sterling quality whereof the best examples were furnished by the South. His time, and that of his officers, had for weeks been well spent in providing and preparing every thing likely to be required in the intended combat; so that when, on the day after our fleet reached the vicinity of the forts,11 and before it had opened fire, a Rebel flat-boat, piled with wood saturated with tar and turpentine, and then cut adrift, came rushing down the heady current — a crackling, roaring, flaming volcano — into the midst of our thickly clustering vessels, a few shells were thrown into it from the gunboat Mississippi, without the designed effect of exploding and sinking it; when a row-boat from the Iroquois quietly tackled it, fixed three grappling-irons in its bow, and towed it obliquely to the river bank, where it was permitted to burn itself harmlessly away, while the fleet proceeded with its preparations for the morrow's bombardment. Axes, ropes, fire-buckets, and whatever else might be needed, were placed exactly where they would be at hand when wanted, and every thing made ready for business.

At daylight next morning, each of the small steamers took four of the schooners in tow and drew them slowly up the river, their decks and yards covered with great branches of trees, whose green foliage rendered them undistinguishable, save by close observation, from the dense woods that skirted the river. Fourteen of them were ranged in line close under the wooded bank, over which they were to throw their shells into Fort Jackson, at distances of two to three miles. Six were stationed near the farther or eastern bank, in full view of both forts, but within range only

Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Explanations.--A, B, C. D, &c., are points on the left bank, and l, 2, 3, 4, &c., points on the right bank of the river, selected for placing the gunboats and mortars in position. The position of the mortar-boats on the 18th was as follows: 6 mortars on the left bank, between G and J, 3,900 to 4.500 yards from Fort Jackson ; 14 mortars on the right bank, from 1 to 5, distant 2,000 to 3,190 yards from Fort Jackson. On the 19th, they were all on the right bank, 3,010 to 4,100 yards from Fort Jackson, and remained nearly in the same position through the 20th and 21st. The large steamers and gunboats were placed from 1/4 to 1 1/4 miles below the mortar-boats. On the first day, the small steam sloops and gunboats went up to abreast of the smoke-stack, where they engaged the forts and the enemy's steamers.

[89] of Jackson, distant 2 1/2 to three miles; all were under orders to concentrate their fire on Fort Jackson, that being the larger and more important work, whose fall necessarily involved that of Fort St. Philip.

At 9 A. M., before our mortar vessels were ready, Fort Jackson opened fire; but her balls struck the water 100 yards short of our gunboat Owasco, which held the advance, and which was first to reply. Capt. Porter, who commanded the mortar fleet, watched through his glass the effect of our very deliberate fire, constantly giving new directions, founded on his observations, as to the elevation of pieces, length of fuse, and weight of charge. By 10 A. M., both parties had closed their experiments, and were firing steadily and heartily, though as yet with little visible effect, save that the fish in the river, stunned and killed by the tremendous concussions, had b:.gun to float past our anchored vessels. Soon, three more rafts are seen sweeping down from the new barrier of chains and hulks, and, as they approach, are dealt with as their predecessor had been, without interrupting the fire of our guns. At 4 P. M., Gen. Butler's little dispatch steamer Saxon arrived, with news that the army was below, ready and waiting for service, and that the Monitor had disabled thle Merrimac in Hampton Roads. At 5, flames were seen and, bursting from Fort Jackson, whose fire slackened; and it was manifest that its wooden interior had been ignited, like that of Fort Sumter in the initial bombardment of the war. The Rebel forts ceased firing, as our boats did, an hour later, and the night passed silently; the flames in Fort Jackson not being extinguished till 2 next morning. But its batteries opened as lively as ever at sunrise, and at 11:30 one of their rifled bolts crashed through one of our schooners, sinking her in 20 minutes; while the Oneida, in our advance, was twice hit in the afternoon, two of her guncarriages smashed, and 9 of her men wounded. The fort had evidently suffered by the day's work; but the fathomless mud of the Mississippi seemed exactly constituted to absorb our shells, with the least possible harm to all around. Gen. Butler and staff arrived during that afternoon, and went upon a small boat to take a look at the chain; which, it had begun by this time to be understood, was badly in the way, and must be subjected to an operation.

The bombardment having been continued through a third day without encouraging result, Capt. Farragut called a council of captains in the cabin of his flag-ship Hartford, and, having heard all opinions, decided on an attempt to force a passage by the forts. To this end, it was essential that the cable should first be broken; and to Capt. Bell, with the gunboats Pinola and Itasca, supported by the Iroquois, Kennebec, and Winona, was assigned the conduct of this critical undertaking; which, the night being dark, it was determined to attempt forthwith; at 10 P. M., the Pinola and Itasca had set out on their perilous errand; Capt. Porter, so soon as they were out of range of his guns, opening upon Fort Jackson a tremendous fire from all his mortar-schooners, under which the Pinola ran up toward the cable near the western shore, directly under the guns of the [90] fort; and, nearing one of the hulks, Mr. Kroehl, the inventor of a new and powerful petard, threw it on board; but it failed to explode, because the Pinola, having stopped her engine a moment too soon, was whirled away on the rushing current, snapping the wire hitherto connected with the petard. The wind blowing fiercely from the north, it was half an hour before the Pinola was again minding her helm, with her bow toward the chain.

Meanwhile, the Itasca, Captain Caldwell, had steamed up to the chain-supporting hulk next in order eastward, and, making fast to its side, her men, who had boarded the hulk, were studying in the darkness the economy of the cable. A rocket thrown up from Fort Jackson favored them with a fitful, transient light, to which a cannonade, instantly opened on them from both forts, seemed to add very little; but they steadily went on with their business; and in half an hour the great chain, vigorously plied with sledge and chisel, had been cut; the cables by which the hulk was anchored had been slipped; and now the hulk, still chained to the nearer shore, was swept resistlessly round by flood and wind until it grounded in the mud of the bank, pulling the lashed Itasca along with it, and driving her fast aground directly in the range of both forts. By this time, however, the Pinola was ready to come to her rescue; and, after an hour of earnest tugging, and parting two 5-inch hawsers, she finally grappled her with an 11-inch cable, and, by help of steam and current, dragged her again into deep water and down into the kindly darkness; each vessel entirely unharmed: and the opening thus made in the barrier was speedily and constantly enlarged by the current so that a boat's crew from the Itasea, pulling up in the thick darkness two, nights later, found nothing to obstruct the upward passage of our fleet. A new and grander fire-raft was sent down two hours after the chains were broke, only to be caught and served as her predecessors had been.

The bombardment was continued two days farther ; in part, because two of our gunboats had been so much injured as to require assistance for their rapid repair. The morning of the 24th was fixed on for the grand attempt, of which the Rebel officers somehow had an intimation ; so that, throughout the preceding day, the forts were silently preparing for the eventful hour at hand, while our bombardment was little more than a formality. Meantime, Duncan reported from Fort Jackson that he had suffered very little, though 25,000 13-inch shells had been fired at him, whereof 1,000 had fallen within the fort. (We had actually fired 5,000 only.) “God is certainly protecting us,” was his assurance.

Farragut's arrangements for passing the forts were completed at sunset.12 The mortar-boats, retaining their stations, were to cover the advance with their utmost possible fire. Six small steamers — the Harriet Lane, Westfield, Owasco, Clinton, Miami, and Jackson, the last towing the Portsmouth — were to engage the water battery below Fort Jackson, but not attempt to pass. Capt. Farragut himself, with his [91] three largest ships — the Hartford, Richmond, and Brooklyn — was to keep near the western bank, fighting Fort Jackson ; while Capt. Bailey, with the Cayuga, Pensacola, Mississippi, Oneida, Varuna, Katahdin, Kineo, and Wissahickon, was to hug the eastern bank, exchanging compliments with Fort St. Philip. Capt. Bell, with the third division--consisting of the Scioto, Iroquois, Pinola, Winona, Itasca, and Kennebec — was to keep the middle of the river, and, disregarding the forts, to attack and vanquish the Rebel fleet in waiting above. Lieut. Weitzel had wisely suggested that, as the guns of the forts had been fired at a high elevation in order to reach their remote assailants, and as the vessels would naturally be expected to keep the middle of the river, the Rebel gunner would be pretty sure to fire over them if they kept close to the respective shores. All being ready, Gen. Butler and his staff went on board the Saxon; every naval officer was at his post; and the silence was only broken by an occasional fire from the mortar-sloops. At 11 P. M., a signal from the Itasca announced that the opening in the cable was still unclosed. The night was dark and heavy; the moon — what there was of it — would rise at 3 A. M.

At 1,13 all hands were called, steam got up, the last preparations made, and at 2 the signal to weigh anchor was given from the flag-ship. Half an hour later, Farragut's division was ready. Capt. Bailey, a little slower, was farther away; it was 3 1/2 before the latter was fairly abreast of Farragut, when each division moved silently up stream. The current was so swift, the night so heavy, that the fleet advanced but four miles per hour.

The silence was broken by our mortars, whose gunners, prepared for the rapidest possible fire, at once filled the air with their shells, and roared out to the Rebels their warning that the hour had come. As our slips in their three lines closely followed each other, Capt. Bailey, in the Cayuga, was first observed and opened upon by both forts as he was passing through the breach in the barrier. He did not choose to give better direction to the enemy's fire by replying; and, though their balls were abundant, they mainly passed over and around him. Approaching Fort St. Philip, he ran close under her guns, giving her broadsides of grape and canister as he passed; the Pensacola, Mississippi, and Varuna, pressing closely in his wake, followed his commendable example. All of his division passed the forts essentially uninjured.

Capt. Bell's division was less fortunate. The Pinola, Scioto, and Iroquois, ran the gauntlet of the forts unharmed ; but the Itasca, when directly opposite St. Philip, received a volley of balls, one of which pierced her boiler and compelled her to drift down the river. The Winona recoiled from that fire, and failed to pass. Thle Kennebec was caught in the cable; and, when liberated, lost her way in the dense smoke; finally returning to her former anchorage below the forts.

Capt. Farragut, in the fore rigging of the Hartford, anxiously watching every visible movement through his night-glass, had advanced within a [92] mile and a quarter of Fort Jackson, when he was opened upon from that Fort and repeatedly struck. Still steaming directly for the fort, and replying only from his two forecastle guns, when within half a mile he sheered and gave them broadsides of grape and canister, which soon drove every man from their barbette guns; but those in the casemates rendered full and quick returns for every volley received. The Richmond, closely following, hurled grape and canister in profusion. The Brooklyn, bringing up the rear, ran over one of the hulks which had upheld the chain, during a hot fire from Fort St. Philip. Hardly had she been feed from the hulk and her head turned up stream, when the ram Manassas came butting into her starboard gangway, first opening her iron trap-door at ten feet distance and firing at the smoke-stack of the Brooklyn a heavy bolt, which was caught and stopped by the sand-bags protecting her steam-drum. A guard of chain armor, which had been woven over her sides, shielded her from destruction by the rain, which soon slid off and disappeared in the darkness. A few minutes later, while still under a raking fire from Fort Jackson, the Brooklyn was attacked by a large Rebel steamer, to which she gave a broadside at 50 yards, setting it instantly on fire and putting an end to its career. Still groping onward in the thick darkness, Capt. Craven soon found himself abreast of Fort St. Philip, and so near that his leadsman reported 13 feet of water. Bringing all his guns to bear for a few moments, he poured in grape and canister so that the fort was completely silenced, and her garrison were seen by our men in the tops of the Brooklyn, by the fitful flashes of their bursting shrapnel, running like sheep to their coverts. Thus passing the upper fort, Capt. Craven engaged several of the Rebel gunboats, at 60 to 100 yards. He was an hour and a half under fire, lost 8 killed and 26 wounded, while his ship was badly cut up by shot and shell; but she bore her full part in the attack on the Rebel batteries below New Orleans next morning.

The Cayuga, having saluted and passed Fort St. Philip at short range, still pushing on, encountered, when just out of fire of the fort, the entire Rebel flotilla, consisting of 18 gunboats, including the Manassas and Louisiana. For a moment, her doom seemed certain, as no supporting ship was to be seen. By skillful steering, however, Capt. Bailey avoided all their attempts to butt and board, and had already forced three of the less formidable to surrender, when the Varuna and Oneida were seen coming to the rescue. At early dawn, perceiving a Rebel camp on the right bank of the river, Capt. Bailey anchored close beside it, and ordered the Rebels to pile their arms on the bank and come on board as prisoners, which was obeyed. The captives proved to be the Chalmette regiment, Col. Sysmanski. Their flag, tents, and camp equipage, formed a part of the spoils.

The Varuna, having safely passed the forts, found herself “amid a nest of Rebel steamers,” 14 into which she plunged, firing broadsides at each as she passed it, exploding the boiler of the first, which appeared to be [93] crowded with troops; when it drifted ashore, a wreck. Three other vessels, one of them a gunboat, were likewise driven ashore and blown up. At 6 A. M., the Morgan, partially iron-clad, commanded by Beverly Kennon (late of our navy), attacked the Varuna, giving her a raking fire along the port gangway, which killed 4 and wounded 9 of her crew, then butted her on the quarter and again on the starboard side, but without sinking or disabling her. Mean-while, the Varuna had planted three 8-inch shells in her assailant, abaft her armor, with several shot from one of our rifled guns; when she drifted out of the fight, partially disabled. Ere this time, another Rebel iron-clad, with a beak under water, had struck the Varuna in the port gangway, doing considerable damage, while our shot glanced harmlessly from the armor of the Rebel boat. The enemy then backed off for another blow, and struck again in the same place, crushing in the Varuna's side; but she being under full headway, her enemy's beak for a moment stuck fast in her side, and the ram was drawn around nearly beside our steamer, which was thereby enabled to plow her with five 8-inch shells abaft her armor. This finished her performance, and she drifted ashore, a burning wreck; while the Varuna, now in a sinking condition, was run into the bank by her commander, her anchor let go, and her bow made fast to the trees ; her guns all the time at work crippling the Morgan, which was making feeble efforts to get up steam. When the water had risen over his gun-trucks, Commander Boggs turned his attention to getting the wounded and crew out of his vessel. The Oneida, seeing her sinking, had rushed to her assistance; but Boggs waved her on to the Morgan, which, already in flames, surrendered; she had lost over 50 of her crew killed and wounded, and was set on fire by her commander, who left his wounded to the flames. Fifteen minutes after she struck, the Varuna was on the bottom, with only her top-gallant forecastle out of water. Her crew gained the shore, losing every thing but the clothes they stood in.

Our loss in this desperate fight, not including 6 or 7 previously disabled on the mortar-boats, was reported as only 30 killed and 119 wounded; the fleet surgeon adding that several vessels had not yet made their official return. The Brooklyn, Pensacola, and Iroquois, had suffered most severely.

Gen. Lovell, who had witnessed the combat of our fleet with his forts and flotilla, and its triumph, hastened up to the city on horseback, narrowly escaping capture on the way, and gave orders to Gen. Smith, in command of the land defenses, to make all possible resistance at the earth-works below the town; but the high stage of water, causing the guns of our vessels to command the earth-works, rendered them untenable by infantry. An attempt was made to raise 1,000 desperate volunteers who would undertake to board and carry our vessels by assault; but only 100 could be found. In short, New Orleans was lost when our fleet had passed the forts; and all her intelligent Rebels knew it.

Gen. Lovell, after consultation with the municipal authorities, began [94] at once to send off his munitions and provisions by steamboat and rail-road, while the greater part of his conscripted militia disbanded and dispersed. What was left worth taking was sent off to Camp Moore, 78 miles above, on the Jackson Rail-road.

The Rebel flotilla having been mainly destroyed, Capt. Farragut, with his nine vessels that had safely run the gauntlet of Rebel forts, fireships, rams, and gunboats, while steaming slowly and cautiously up the river, had not yet reached New Orleans when he was met by ample evidence that the city was virtually in his hands. Cotton-loaded and other valuable ships came floating down the river wrapped in flames, the mute but vivid witnesses of the enemy's despair. “I never witnessed such Vandalism in my life,” he reports, “as the destruction of property: all the shipping, steamboats, &c., were set on fire and consumed.”

On reaching15 the English Turn, six or seven miles below the city, he descried the new earthworks on both banks, known as the Chalmette batteries; when, forming his fleet in two lines, and allotting to each its proper work, he moved on. The Cayuga not having observed the signal for close order, was considerably in advance, and so for 20 minutes exposed alone to the fire of the Rebel batteries. But the Hartford now caine up, dispensing liberal broadsides of shell, shrapnel, and grape, the first of which drove the Rebels on the right bank from their guns ; while the fire of the Pensacola, the Brooklyn, and the residue of the fleet, which came up in quick succession, very soon silenced the remaining forts, and set their gunners in rapid motion toward places of greater safety No further obstacles nor perils but those presented by burning steamers, cotton-ships, rafts, &c., were encountered until, at 1 P. M., thle squadron anchored, during a violent thunder-storm, in front of New Orleans, whose levee for miles afforded a magnificent but melancholy spectacle of burning cotton, sugar, and other staples of South-western commerce; while the river in front was so full of burning ships that great vigilance and skill were required to avoid them.16

There was no attempt at resistance, but on shore anarchy and impotent [95] rage strove for the mastery. As our squadron neared the levee, our sailors gave a cheer, to which some few in the adjacent crowd responded, provoking thereby pistol-shots from the irate Rebels surrounding them. After a brief delay, Capt. Bailey was sent ashore to demand the surrender of the city; when the valorous mob received him with groans, hootings, and threats of violence, which did not prevent his proceeding, under the escort of more considerate citizens, to the Mayor's office; the mob that followed him contenting itself with assaults on such citizens as were suspected of Unionismn. On reaching the City Hall, he made his demand, requiring that the Federal flag be displayed from the public edifices; to which the Mayor responded, disclaiming any authority to comply A messenger was thereupon sent to Gen. Lovell, who informed Capt. Bailey that he had already evacuated the city, which he now formally turned over to the municipal authorities, leaving them to act as they should see fit. Capt. Bailey now returned to the fleet to await such action; and the Mayor, refusing to haul down the State flag from the City Hall, sent to the Common Council, which was in session, a message recommending that an answer be returned to Capt. Farragut, stating that the city, being incapable of offering further resistance, yielded to physical force alone, without giving up its allegiance to the Confederate Government, while it had no authority over the Custom-House, Post-Office, and Mint, and would do nothing with regard to them. This undignified and ridiculous betrayal of spite and chagrin was reiterated by the Mayor in a letter17 to Capt. Farragut, which was tersely and fitly [96] answered.18 The malevolent folly of the municipal authorities served only to expose their city to destruction. A force landed from the Pensacola had hoisted, unopposed, a Federal flag over the Mint, and left it there unguarded. Ere it had thus remained many hours, a number of young Rebels mounted to the dome, tore it down, and dragged it through the streets. It would have been entirely justifiable and proper on the part of Farragut to have required of the authorities its immediate and respectful replacement, on penalty of the destruction of their city; but he forbore; and, even when he required them, two days afterward, to take down the flag of Louisiana, still floating over the City Hall, the Mayor positively refused. Capt. F. finally closed19 the absurd altercation by sending a force from his ships to take down the flag: a vast crowd looking sullenly on, or giving vent to their wrath only in idle curses. They failed to comprehend their position; but they respected the two brass howitzers, well manned and supported, which stood in front of the City Hall while the operation was quietly and thoroughly performed.

Capt. Farragut had not waited to obtain formal possession of the city before moving up20 to the two forts at Carrollton, eight miles above, where lie was surprised to find the gun-carriages on fire and the guns spiked. The works were formidable, but constructed to resist an advance from above; so that, being taken in reverse, they had been adjudged indefensible.

Gen. Butler, having witnessed from [97] the Saxon the success of Farragut's attempt to pass the Rebel forts and barrier and destroy their fleet forbidding approach to New Orleans. made haste to join his land forces below, and to conduct them, under Weitzel's piloting, through the shallow bays and bayous in the rear of Fort St. Philip, landing them from his row-boats on the first firm ground that he reached above the fort; thence occupying the levee and throwing a detachment across the river so as completely to isolate both forts and their garrisons. While he was effecting this, Commander Porter, with his mortar-fleet below, resumed and continued the bombardment, sending up21 a flag of truce to demand a surrender, which was refused; but, next day, 250 of the garrison of Fort Jackson, having heard, or inferred from the blackened fragments floating down the river, that New Orleans was captured, refused to fight longer, and, spiking the guns on the upper side of the fort, sallied out and surrendered themselves to Gen. Butler's pickets. Lt.-Col. Higgins, who commanded the forts, seeing that all was lost, now made haste to accept the favorable terms of capitulation previously offered by Commander Porter, before the latter should be made aware of Butler's position above and the mutiny and surrender of half the garrison. While the terms of capitulation were being reduced to writing, the Confederate naval officers just above the forts towed their rain Louisiana out into the current, set her on fire and abandoned her, with all her guns shotted, expecting her to drift down upon and explode in the midst of Porter's fleet; but, just as she was abreast of Fort St. Philip, she blew up and sunk, injuring no one but a Rebel soldier in the fort, who was killed by a fragment. Of the three remaining Rebel steamers, one had been scuttled; the others surrendered without resistance: their officers, with those of the Louisiana, being sent North as close prisoners, because of their attempt to destroy our fleet while a capitulation was in progress. Commander Porter turned the forts and their contents immediately over to Gen. Phelps ,22 and they were very soon being repaired and fitted for effective service; while Gen. Butler, leaving Gen. Williams in command there, and having easily reduced Forts Pike and Wood, at the entrance of Lake Pontchartrain, brought his steamers around into the Mississippi, and, taking on board 2,000 of his men, moved up to the city and took possession--Capt. Farragut very gladly relinquishing to him the difficult and disagreeable duty of bandying words with its spiteful, shuffling authorities,and dealing with its ferocious and ruffianly mob, who would have taken exquisite pleasure in making mince-meat of either of them.

In the conferences which ensued between the commanding General [98] and the municipality, Mayor Monroe was counseled and prompted by Hon. Pierre Soule, a gentleman whose ability and tact shone forth in striking contrast with the pitiable exhibition previously made of himself by the Mayor. In fact, if Soule had had 10 or 15 good regiments and as many batteries at his back, he might have argued Butler out of New Orleans. A wide diversity as to premises rendered the progress and results of these discussions quite unsatisfactory to the weaker party. In the contemplation of Gen. Butler, New Orleans was a city of the United States, wherein Rebellion had been temporarily dominant, but which had now been restored to its rightful and lawful allegiance, and wherein no authority must be asserted, no flag displayed, but those of the Union. Soule, Monroe, and the mob, could not see the matter in that light; but insisted on regarding our forces as intruders, who ought in simple decency to abscond; but who, since they refused to do this, should in all things consult the feelings and tastes of the patriotic and indomitable Southrons, who, from behind their barricades of women and children, delighted in hallooing, wherever Butler appeared or was expected, “Where's old cock-eye?” “Let me see the damned rascal!” “I see the damned old villain,” &c., &c., interspersed with “Hurrah for Jeff. Davis!” “Hurrah for Beauregard!” “Go home, you damned Yankees!” &c., &c. It was amid a tempest of such outcries from the throats of 50,000 venomous Rebels, that the General, after vainly endeavoring to comply with a popular demand for “Picayune Butler,” which none of his bands were able to play, and after having waited upon Capt. Farragut and heard his account of all that had occurred since our fleet first appeared before the city, ordered the immediate debarkation of his troops, which began at 4 o'clock that afternoon :23 the crowd requiring to be slowly pressed back with the bayonet to obtain space on which our regiments were thus enabled successively to land and form; Gen. Butler and his staff — no horses having yet been landed — marching on foot at the head of the 31st Massachusetts and 4th Wisconsin to the music of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” variegated by nowise complimentary observations from the mob, along the levee to Poydras street, thence through St. Charles street and Canal street, to the vast, unfinished Custom-House, where our artillery was duly posted and the men fitly quartered; while the General and his staff returned to his steamboat, and the 12th Connecticut, Col. Deming, bivouacked on the levee by its side.

That evening, Gen. Butler finished his proclamation and sent it to the office of The True Delta to be printed, only to learn that the application was too late. Next morning, it was renewed, and plumply refused by the proprietor. Two hours later, a file of soldiers drew up before the building, when half a dozen of their number entered the printing office and proceeded inoffensively to print the obnoxious paper. The True Delta of next day commenting rebelliously on this performance, Gen. Butler suppressed it till further orders: which brought the concern to reason. The [99] next day, its publication was resumed; and on the 6th the proclamation duly appeared in its columns.

The great St. Charles Hotel having been suddenly closed, Gen. Butler reopened and made it his Headquarters, summoning the Mayor and Council to meet him there at 2 P. M. next day, which they did; and, after considerable debate, were satisfied, first, that Gen. Butler was master of the situation; secondly, that he intended to remain so; thirdly, that any who should undertake to dispute or defy his authority would certainly get into trouble; and fourthly, that the mob, though it might hoot and howl with impunity, must stop short of actual violence and mutiny, or their streets would be swept by grape and their gutters run red with blood. It took some time to impress these truths clearly on the average Rebel mind; but the work was effectively done; and New Orleans ultimately confessed that she had not before in a generation been nearly so clean, so quiet, so orderly, so free from robbery, violence, outrage, and murder, as she was under the rule of “ Beast Butler” in the year of grace 1862.

Two conspicuous instances out of many must here serve as examples of his dealings with the spirit of treason.

The women of New Orleans — that portion of them who arrogated to themselves the designation of ladies, with a large majority of their sisters throughout the Confederacy — had ere this become most impassioned Rebels. The aristocratic instinct being stronger in women than in men, Slavery, though it debauched the men and degraded the women of the South, had come to be regarded by the latter — that is, by those of the ruling caste — as their patent of nobility; and they clung to it, and stood ready to sacrifice and dare for it, as aristocrats are always ready to “stand by their order.” They talked loudly of shedding their blood, if need be, for the Confederacy; they acted so as to insure the shedding in that behalf of the blood of their male relatives and neighbors. To proclaim a rigid non-intercourse with all young men who did not promptly enlist in the Confederate armies, and to exhort, entreat, and finally insult, those who hesitated to do so, was a very common exhibition of Southern female patriotism. To treat our officers and soldiers at all times, and under all circumstances, with indications of hatred, contempt, disgust, and loathing, was their still more natural and general practice. The display of a miniature Secession flag on their persons was a harmless, in-offensive exhibition of their feelings which was never objected to on our side. To vacate a church-pew, quit a street-car, or other public vehicle, upon the entrance of one of our officers, was admissible; to strum “The Bonny Blue flag” on the piano whenever a Union officer entered the house, or a Union platoon marched by, could be endured; but when ladies, by breeding or brevet, saw fit to take several reefs in their respective noses, to make an ostentatious display of drawing aside their dresses, to oblique into the middle of the street and then back again, in order to avoid the possibility of contact with a passing officer, or being over-shadowed by the American flag; still more, when, to contemptuous and insuiting gestures, they added opprobrious [100] and venomous language, they passed the limits of any indulgence which may properly be accorded to even feminine malignity. In New Orleans, the climax of these cowardly insults was only reached when something dressed like a lady saw fit to spit in the faces of two officers quietly passing along the street. It was this experiment on his forbearance which decided Gen. Butler to issue his famous Order No. 28. It reads as follows:

headquarters, Department of the Gulf, New Orleans, May 15, 1862.
General order no. 28:
As the officers and soldiers of the United States have been subjected to repeated insults from the women (calling themselves ladies) of New Orleans, in return for tile most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter, when any female shall, by word, gesture, or movement, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman of the town plying her avocation.

By command of

Maj.-Gen. Butler. Geo. C. Strong, A. A. G., Chief of Staff.

This order was subjected to the worst possible construction, first by Mayor Monroe and his secret prompters; next by the Rebel Governor of Louisiana and the Secessionists generally; and so on, until Lord Palmerston, in the British House of Commons, took occasion to be astonished, to blush, and to proclaim his “deepest indignation” at the tenor of that order; Punch eagerly echoing his perversions. Gen. Butler was finally constrained, after too long enduring his palterings and equivocations, to send Mayor Monroe to prison, abolish his municipality, banish Pierre Soule, and appoint Col. G. F. Shepley military commandant, to the signal improvement of the government of New Orleans and the peace and security of its inhabitants; and all that need be added in explanation or in defense of the hated order is this: that no soldier under Gen. Butler's command ever acted upon the vile construction of that order which his enemies set up; and no woman in New Orleans ever pretended that site was anywise abused or insulted because thereof; while its success in arresting the scandalous behavior at which it aimed was immediate and complete.

The other case, wherein Gen. Butler especially displeased his enemies and those of his country, was that of Wm. B. Mumford, a New Orleans gambler, who had led the Rebel mob who tore down our National flag from the roof of tile Mint, where it had been hoisted by our sailors detailed for that duty by Capt. Morris, of the Pensacola, on the 27th, after Lovell had evacuated the city. and its Mayor and Common Council had officially declared themselves incapable of making any resistance, and that, yielding to physical force alone, they would make none, to the forces of the United States. The outrage thus committed by Mumford and his backers, furtive and riotous as it was, drew a shot from the howitzers in the main-top of the Pensacola, and might have provoked and justified the destruction of the city by our fleet; since the authorities did not disclaim, while the mob vociferously applauded and adopted it. So The Picayune of next morning eulogized its gallantry and patriotism, and proclaimed it an act of the city, and a proof of her “unflinching determination to sustain to the uttermost the righteous cause for which she has done so much and made such sacrifices.” [101] The city having been completely occupied, and the National authority restablished, Gen. Butler caused Mumford to be arrested, tried, and, he being convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, that sentence was duly executed,24 in the face of all New Orleans anxiously looking on, and in defiance of the confident prediction of the Rebels that Butler would not dare to do it. They did not dare; he did. And his hold on the city was firmer and safer from that moment.

About the same time,25 he pardoned and set at liberty six humbler Rebels, who, having been captured and paroled at the surrender of the forts, had been induced secretly to reenlist in the Rebel service, conspiring to force or evade our pickets and hasten to join Beauregard's army in Mississippi. Their guilt was undoubted; their crime one that military law sternly punishes with death.

The occupation of New Orleans, its defenses and approaches, having been completed and assured, Commander Porter, with a part of our fleet, returned to Ship Island; a part was stationed near New Orleans to assist in its defense; and the residue, under Capt. Craven, steamed up the river to extend our sway in that direction. Baton Rouge, the State capital, was captured without resistance.26 The Mayor refusing to surrender, Commander Palmer, of the Iroquois, landed and took possession of the U. S. Arsenal. Capt. Farragut arrived soon afterward, and took measures to render our possession permanent. Natchez was in like manner given up to the Iroquois;27 but, as the Confederates had not occupied it as a military post, it was left unmolested.

The advance of our squadron, under Commander S. P. Lee, encountered no opposition until it reached Vicksburg,28 whence a summons to surrender was answered with defiance. Our force was inadequate to attack until the arrival, a few days later, of Capt. Farragut, accompanied by 4,000 soldiers under Gen. Thomas Williams. Vicksburg is naturally so strong, and was so firmly held, that it was not until after still further reenforcements had come up, including Commander Porter's mortar fleet, that a bombardment was opened.29 Not much impression was made on the elevated and formidable Rebel batteries by our fire; but, at 3 A. M. of the 28th, Capt. Farragut, in the Hartford, with six more of his vessels, passed Vicksburg triumphantly, with a total loss of 15 killed and 30 wounded, and exchanged cheers above with Capt. Davis's fleet of mortar and gun-boats, which had fought their way down from Cairo. Still, our forces were not strong enough for assault, and the bombardment remained ineffective; while Gen. Williams, who, on his way up from Baton Rouge, had been fired on from Grand Gulf, and had burned that village in retaliation, was losing men daily by sickness, which ultimately reduced his effective force by more than half. He had under-taken to cut a canal, or water-course, across the peninsula opposite Vicks-burg, and had gathered some 1,200 negroes from the adjacent plantations to assist in the work; but it did not succeed. The soil to be excavated [102] was an exceedingly tenacious clay, in good part covered with large trees. The strong current obstinately kept to the old channel, and could not be attracted to the right bank. An expedition, started30 to go up the Yazoo, having unexpectedly encountered, near the mouth of that river, and been worsted by, the Rebel rain Arkansas,31 Capt. Farragut, having no prospect of further usefulness above, determined to repass the frowning batteries, cutting out and destroying the Arkansas by the way. He succeeded in running by Vicksburg with little loss; but his designs upon the Arkansas were baffled by darkness. A few days later, Commander Porter, with the iron-clad Essex, and Lt.-Col. Ellet, with the ram Queen of the West, made32 another attempt to cut out the Arkansas, which was likewise defeated.

The village of Donaldsonville, which had the bad habit of firing upon our weaker steamers, as they passed up or down the river, was bombarded therefor by Capt. Farragut, and partially destroyed. As the river was now falling fast, threatening to greatly impair the efficiency of our fleet, the siege of Vicksburg was abandoned, under instructions from Washington, and Capt. Farragut dropped down the river, reaching New Orleans on the 28th, with the greater part of his fleet.

Gen. Williams, with his soldiers, debarked on the way at Baton Rouge; he resuming command of that post. Rumors of a meditated attack in force by the enemy were soon current; and hence the General had, on the afternoon33 prior to its occurrence, warned his subordinates to be ready and watchful, so as not to be surprised next morning. The Rebels had been assured by their spies that our men were mostly sick in hospital, which was measurably true; but regiments that numbered but 150 on parade, counted 500 on the battlefield.

The Rebel force had been organized for this effort at Tangipahoa, 60 miles north-eastward, and 78 N. N. W. of New Orleans. It consisted of 13 regiments, and must have considerably outnumbered ours, which was composed of nine thinned regiments in all. Each side, in its account of the action, made its own force 2,500, and that of its adversary twice or thrice as great. The Rebels were commanded in chief by Maj.-Gen. John C. Breckinridge, with Brig.-Gen. Daniel Ruggles34 leading their left wing, and Brig.-Gen. Charles Clarke their right. The attack was made at daylight,35 simultaneously and vigorously, by the entire Rebel force, on the two roads which lead from the south-west into Baton Rouge; and, as but three of our regiments — the 14th Maine, 21st Indiana, and 6th Wisconsin--were immediately engaged, these were soon compelled to fall back, barely saving their batteries, whereof two were for a few moments in the hands of the Rebels. A dense fog precluded a clear comprehension on our side of the position, and caused the 7th Vermont to fire into the 21st Indiana, mistaking it for a Rebel regiment. Our lines were formed nearly two miles back from the river, where our [103] gunboats could give them little support; but, as the famous Rebel ram Arkansas, hitherto so successful, was counted on as a part of the attacking force, supported by two improvised gunboats, and as our front was wooded, with a cross-road and open fields just beyond it, Gen. Williams may fairly be supposed to have understood his business. The battle raged fiercely for two hours, during which the Rebel right was advanced across the lateral road, driving back the 14th Maine, pillaging and burning its camp; and, while four successive assaults were unsuccessfully made on our front, Gen. Clarke made a resolute effort to flank our left and establish himself in its rear. Gen. Williams, anticipating tills movement, had placed a battery, supported by two regiments, to resist it; and the Rebels were repulsed with considerable loss. Meanwhile, the 21st Indiana, posted at the crossing of the roads — whose Colonel, suffering from wounds previously received, had twice essayed to join it, and each time fallen from his horse — had lost its Lt.-Col., Keith, Maj. Hayes, and Adj. Latham--the two former severely wounded, the latter killed — when Gen. Williams, seeing Latham fall, exclaimed, “Indianians! your field-officers are all killed: I will lead you!” and was that moment shot through the breast and fell dead; the command devolving on Col. T. W. Cahill, 9th Connecticut.

But the battle was already won. The Rebel attack had exhausted its vitality without achieving any decided success; while the Arkansas,from which so much had been expected, had failed to come to time. Leaving Vicksburg,36 she had steamed leisurely down the river until within 15 miles of Baton Rouge, where her starboard engine broke down; and it had been but partially repaired when the sound of his guns announced to her the opening of Breckinridge's attack. Coming down to within five miles of the city, she was cleared for action; when her engine again broke down, and she drifted ashore on the right bank of the river. tier tenders, the Music and the Webb, were of no account without her; and now her strong armament of six 8-inch and four 50-pound guns, with 180 men, could not be brought into action; and our gunboats, the Kineo and Katahdin below, and Essex, Cayuga, and Sumter above Baton Rouge, were enabled to devote their attention to the Rebels on land; firing over the heads of our soldiers at the enemy, nearly two miles distant. It is not probable that their shells did any great harm to the Rebels, and they certainly annoyed and imperiled our own men; but they served Breckinridge as an excuse for ordering a retreat, which a part of his men had already begun. By 10 A. M., his forces were all on the back track, having lost some 300 to 400 men, including Gen. Clarke, mortally wounded and left a prisoner; Cols. Allen, Boyd, and Jones, of Louisiana; Cols. A. P. Thompson and T. H. Hunt, of Kentucky; Col. J. W. Robertson, of Alabama, and other valuable officers. On our side, beside Gen. Williams, and the entire staff of the 21st Indiana, we lost Col. Roberts, of the 7th Vermont; Maj. Bickmore and Adj. Metcalfe, of the 14th Maine; Capt. Eugene Kelty, 30th Massachusetts, [104] and from 200 to 300 others. We took about 100 prisoners, half of them wounded. Neither party had more cannon at the close than at the beginning of the battle; but the Rebels boasted that they had destroyed Federal munitions and camp equipage of very considerable value.

Next morning, Commander Porter, with the Essex, 7 guns and 40 men, accompanied by the Cayuga and Sumter, moved up in quest of the Arkansas, whose two consorts had already fled up the river. The ram at first made for the Essex, intending to run her down; but her remaining engine soon gave out, and she was headed toward the river bank, the Essex pursuing and shelling her; the Arkansas replying feebly from her stern. When the Essex had approached within 400 yards, Lt. Stevens, of the ram, set her on fire and abandoned her, escaping with his crew to the shore. The Essex continued to shell her for an hour; when her magazine was fired and she blew up.

Commander Porter, having remained at Baton Rouge until it was evacuated by our troops — who were concentrated to repel a threatened attack on New Orleans — returned up the river37 to reconnoiter Rebel batteries that were said to be in progress at Port Hudson. Ascending thence to coal at Bayou Sara, his boat's crew was there fired upon by guerrillas, whereupon some buildings were burned in retaliation; and, the firing being repeated a few days after-ward, the remaining structures were in like manner destroyed. A boat's crew from the Essex was sent ashore, some days later, at Natchez, to procure ice for our sick sailors, and was unexpectedly attacked by some 200 armed civilians, who killed or wounded 7 of her crew. Porter thereupon opened fire on the town, bombarding it for an hour, and setting a number of its houses on fire, when the Mayor surrendered. On her way down the river, the Essex had a smart engagement with the rising batteries at Port Hudson.38

Gen. Butler's preparations having rendered the retaking of New Orleans hopeless, the meditated attack on it was abandoned, and the forces collected for that purpose transferred to other service. An incursion into the rich district known as Lafourche, lying south-west of New Orleans, between that city and the Gulf, was thereupon projected, and General — late Lieut.--Weitzel, was sent with a brigade of infantry and the requisite artillery and cavalry, to reestablish there the authority of the Union. This was a section of great wealth: its industry being devoted mainly to the production of sugar from cane, its population more than half slaves; and its Whites, being entirely slaveholders and their dependents, had ere this been brought to at least a semblance of unanimity in support of the Rebel cause; but their military strength, always moderate, had in good part been drafted away for service elsewhere; so that Gen. Weitzel, with little difficulty and great expedition, made himself master of the entire region,39 after two or three collisions, in which he sustained little loss. But the wealthy Whites generally fled from their homes at his approach; while the negroes, joyfully hailing him as their liberator, [105] speedily filled his camps with crowds of men, women, and children, destitute of food, and fearing to go outside of his lines lest they should be reduced again to Slavery. Gen. Butler, after anxious consideration, felt obliged to subject the whole district to sequestration, in order to secure the cutting and grinding of the cane, so as to save the remaining inhabitants from death by famine. Maj. Bell, Lt.-Col. Kinsman, and Capt. Fuller, were appointed a commission, who were to take charge of all personal property, and either apply it to the use of the army or transport it to New Orleans and there sell it to the highest bidders, dispensing to loyal citizens and neutral foreigners their just share of the proceeds, and applying the residue to the uses of the Federal service in this military department. Thus were the negroes employed, paid, and subsisted, the crops saved, and a large sum turned over to the support of our armies, while the number of White loyalists in Lafourche was rapidly and largely increased. Two Congressional districts having thus been recovered, Messrs. Benjamin F. Flanders and Michael Hahn were elected40 therefrom to the Federal House of Representatives: the former receiving 2,370 votes, to 173 for others, and the latter 2,581, which was 144 more than were cast against him. The voting was confined to electors under the laws of Louisiana who had taken the Federal oath of allegiance since the repossession of New Orleans; and the aggregate poll in that city outnumbered, it was stated, its total vote for Secession by about 1,000. When Gen. Butler first reached that city, there were not a hundred persons in Louisiana outside of our army and fleet who would have dared take the oath, however willing to do so.

Toward the end of November, Gen. Butler's spies brought him information from the nearest Rebel camps that he had been superseded in his command, and that Gen. N. P. Banks either was or soon would be on his way to relieve him. Some days before information of the purposed change reached our side, Secessionists in New Orleans were offering to bet a hundred to ten that Gen. Butler would be recalled before New Year's. The fact was known to Jefferson Davis before it was to Gen. Banks--long before it was communicated from Washington to Gen. Butler. It is probable that the French Minister, whose Government had not been pleased with Gen. Butler's management in New Orleans, was the immediate source of Rebel assurance on this point. Gen. Banks's assignment to the Department of the Gulf is dated November 9th, but was not made known to him till some weeks afterward.

Gen. Banks reached New Orleans Dec. 14th, was received with every honor, and on the 16th formally assumed the high trust to which lie had been appointed. On the 23d, Gen. Butler took personal leave of his many friends, and next day issued his farewell address to the people of New Orleans; leaving for New York, via Havana, by that day's boat. He was not then aware that he had been honored, the day previous, by a proclamnation from Jefferson Davis, declaring him a felon, outlaw, and common enemy of mankind, and [106] directing any Confederate officer who should capture him to hang him without trial immediately; and further directing that all commissioned officers in his command be regarded as robbers and criminals, deserving death; and each of them, whenever captured, reserved for execution.41 Mr. Richard Yeadon, of Charleston, S. C., backed this proclamation by an offer42 of $10,000 reward, payable in Confederate currency, for the capture and delivery of the said Benjamin F. Butler, dead or alive, to any proper Confederate authority.

Gen. Butler had taken 13,700 soldiers from the North for the capture of New Orleans. He had received no reenforcements since; and he now turned over to his successor 17,800 drilled and disciplined men, including three regiments and two batteries of negroes. He sent home to the treasury the sum of $345,000; expended $525,000 in feeding the poor of New Orleans; and turned over about $200,000 to the Commissary and Quartermaster of his successor. He had collected, by taxation, assessments, fines, forfeitures, and confiscations, an aggregate of $1,088,000, which he had faithfully applied to the public service. He had, of course, made himself very unpopular with the wealthy Rebels, whom he had, in proportion to their several volunteer contributions of money in aid of the Rebel cause, assessed for the support of the New Orleans poor, deprived of employment by the war; and he was especially detested by that large body of influential foreigners who, having freely devoted their efforts and their means to the support of the Rebellion, were neither regarded nor treated by him as though they had been honestly neutral in the contest. In his farewell address to the people of New Orleans, he forcibly says:

I saw that this Rebellion was a war of the aristocrats against the middling men — of the rich against the poor; a war of the land-owner against the laborer; that it was a struggle for the retention of power in the hands of the few against the many; and I found no conclusion to it, save in the subjugation of the few and the disenthrallment of the many. I, therefore, felt no hesitation in taking the substance of the wealthy, who had caused the war, to feed the innocent poor, who had suffered by the war. And I shall now leave you with the proud consciousness that I carry with me the blessings of the humble and loyal, under the roof of the cottage and in the cabin of the slave; and so am quite content to incur the sneers of the salon or the curses of the rich.

1 Aug. 29, 1861. See Vol. I., pp. 599-600.

2 Jan. 13, 1862.

3 Dec. 4. 1861.

4 Feb. 25, 1862, 9 P. M.

5 The New Orleans journals, frequently brought over from Biloxi. bristled with such awe-inspiring paragraphs as the following:

The Mississippi is fortified so as to be impassable for any hostile fleet or flotilla. Forts Jackson and St. Philip are armed with 170 heavy guns (63-pounders, rifled by Barkley Britton. and received from England). The navigation of the river is stopped by a dam about a quarter of a mile from the above forts. No flotilla on earth could force that damn in less than two hours; during which it would be within sort and cross range of 170 guns of the heaviest caliber, many of which would be served with red-hot shot, numerous furnaces for which have been erected in every fort and battery.

In a day or two, we shall have ready two iron-eased floating batteries. The plates are 4 1/2 inches thick, of the best hammered iron, received from England and France. Each iron-cased battery will mount twenty 68-pounders, placed so as to skin the water, and strike the enemy's hull between wind and water. We have an abundant supply of incendiary shells, cupola furnaces for molten iron. congreve rockets, and fire-ships.

Between New Orleans and the forts, there is a constant succession of earthworks. At the Plain of Chalmette, near Janin's property, there are redoubts, armed with rifled cannon which have been found to be effective at five miles' range. A ditch 30 feet wide and 20 deep extends from the Mississippi to La Ciprione. In Forts St. Plilip and Jackson, there are 3,000 men; of whom a goodly portion are experienced artillery-men and gunners who have served in the navy.

At New Orleans itself, we have 32,000 infantry, and as many more quartered in the immediate neieghborhood. In discipline and drill, they are far superior to the Yankees. We have two very able and active Generals, who possess our entire confidence--Gen. Mansfield Lovell and Brig.-Gen. Ruggles. For Commodore, we have old Hollins — a Nelson in his way.

--N. O. Picayune, April 5, 1862.

6 April 15, 1862.

7 Oct. 18, 1861.

8 Feb. 25, 1862.

9 March 15, 1862.

10 March 27.

11 April 17.

12 April 23.

13 April 24.

14 Commander Boggs's official report.

15 At 10:30 A. M. on the 25th.

16 Pollard says:

No sooner had the Federal fleet turned the point, and come within sight of the city, than the work of destruction of property commenced. Vast columns of smoke ascended to the sky, darkening the face of heaven and obscuring the noon-day sun; for five miles along the levee, fierce flames darted through the lurid atmosphere, their baleful glare struggling in rivalry with the sunlight; great ships and steamers, wrapped in fire, floated down the river, threatening the Federal vessels with destruction by their fiery contact. In front of the various presses, and at other points along the levee, the cotton had been piled up and submitted to the torch. It was burned by order of the Governor of Louisiana and of the military commander of the Confederate States. Fifteen thousand bales were consumed; the value of which would have been about a million and a half of dollars. The tobacco stored in the city, being all held by foreign residents on foreign account, was not destroyed. The specie of the banks, to the amount of twelve or fifteen millions, was removed from the city and placed in a secure place; so were nearly all the stores and movable property of the Confederate States. But other materials were embraced in the awful conflagration. About a dozen large river steamboats, twelve or fifteen ships, some of them laden with cotton, a great floating battery, several unfinished gun-boats, the immense ram, the Mississippi, and the docks on the other side of the river, were all embraced in the fiery sacrifice. The Mississippi was an iron-clad frigate, a superior vessel of her class, and accounted to be by far the most important naval structure the Confederate Government had yet undertaken.


Mayor's Office, city of New Orleans, City Hall, April 20, 1862.
Flag-Officer D. G. Farragut, United States flag-ship Hartford:
Sir — In pursuance of a resolution which we thought proper to take, out of regard for the lives of the women and children who still crowd the metropolis, General Lovell has evacuated it with his troops, and restored back to me the administration of its government and the custody of its honor. I have, in council with the City Fathers, considered the demand you made of me yesterday of an unconditional surrender of the city, coupled with a requisition to hoist the flag of the United States on the public edifices, and haul down the flag that still floats upon the breeze from the dome of this Hall. It becomes my duty to transmit to you an answer which is the universal sentiment of my constituents no less than the promptings of my own heart on this sad and solemn occasion. The city is without the means of defense; and is utterly destitute of the force and material that might enable it to resist an overpowering armament displayed in sight of it.

I am no military man, and possess no authority beyond that of executing the municipal laws of the city of New Orleans. It would be presumptuous in me to attempt to lead an army in the field. if I had one at command; and I know still less how to surrender an undefended place, held, as this is, at the mercy of your gunners and your mortars. To surrender such a place were an idle and unmeaning ceremony. The city is yours by the power of brutal force, not by my choice or the consent of its inhabitants. It is for you to determine what will be the fate that awaits us here. As to hoisting any flag not of our own adoption and allegiance, let me say to you that the man lives not in our midst whose hand and heart would not be paralyzed at the mere thought of such an act; nor could I find in my entire constituency so desperate and wretched a renegade as would dare to profane with his hand the sacred emblem of our aspirations.

Sir, you have manifested sentiments which would become one engaged in a better cause than that to which you have devoted your sword. I doubt not that they spring from a noble though deluded nature: and I know how to appreciate the emotions which inspired them. You have a gallant people to administrate during your occupancy of this city — a people sensitive to all that can in the least affect their dignity and self-respect. Pray, Sir, do not fail to regard their susceptibilities. The obligations which I shall assume in their name shall be religiously complied with. You may trust their honor. though you might not count on their submission to unmerited wrong.

In conclusion, I beg you to understand that the people of New Orleans, while unable to resist your force, do not allow themselves to be insulted by the interference of such as have rendered themselves odious and contemptible by their dastardly desertion of our cause in the mighty struggle in which we are engaged, or such as might remind them too forcibly that they are the conquered and you the conquerors. Peace and order may be preserved without resort to measures which I could not at this moment prevent. Your occupying the city does not transfer allegiance from the government of their choice to one which they have deliberately repudiated; and they yield the obedience which the conqueror is entitled to extort from the conquered.



U. S. Flag-Ship Hartford, at anchor
off the city of New Orleans,
April 28, 1862.
To His Honor the Mayor and City Council of the City of New Orleans:
Your communication of the 26th inst. has been received, together with that of the City Council.

I deeply regret to see, both by their contents and the continued display of the flag of . Louisiana on the Court-House, a determination on the part of the city authorities not to haul it down. Moreover, when my officers and men were sent on shore to communicate with the authorities, arid to hoist the United States flag on the Custom-House, with the strictest order not to use their arms unless assailed, they were insulted in the grossest manner, and the flag which had been hoisted by my orders on the Mint was pulled down and dragged through the streets. All of which goes to show that the fire of this fleet may be drawn upon the city at any moment; and in such an event the levee would, in all probability, be cut by the shells, and an amount of distress ensue to tie innocent population which I have hitherto endeavored to assure you that I desire by all means to avoid.

The election. therefore, is with you. But it becomes my duty to notify you to remove the women and children from the city within 48 hours, if I rightly understand your determination.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


D. G. Farragut, Flag-Officer Western Gulf Blockading Squadrou.

It seems incredible, yet it is a fact, that Monroe sent a rejoinder to this letter; in which, amid bombastic and turgid babble about flagrant violation of those courtesies which prevail between belligerents, and shells tearing up the graves of those who are so dear to them, he whimpered out: “Our women and children cannot escape, from your shells, if it be your pleasure to murder them on a question of mere etiquette.” Even Pollard barely represses his disgust at the silly repetitions and vanity of literary style protruded by tins Bobadil of a Mayor.

19 May 1.

20 Afternoor of April 26.

21 April 27.

22 The Rebel loss by the bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip was reported by them at 11 killed and 39 wounded. The prisoners taken by us at the surrender were 393. This does not include about 300 captured with the last of their gunboats, nor the Chalmette regiment encamped on the levee, which surrendered to Capt. Bailey. Our total loss of men in the bombardment, running the batteries, destruction of the Rebel fleet, and capture of the city, was but 40 killed and 177 wounded.

23 May 1.

24 June 7.

25 May 31.

26 May 7.

27 May 12.

28 May 18.

29 Night of June 26.

30 July 15.

31 See page 58.

32 July 22.

33 Aug. 4.

34 From Massachusetts; formerly Lt.-Col. of the 5th Regular Infantry.

35 Aug. 5.

36 At 2 A. M., Aug. 3.

37 August 23.

38 Sept. 7.

39 Oct. 22-29.

40 Early in December.

41 Mr. Davis's proclamation recites the hanging of Mumford; the neglect of our Government to explain or disavow that act; the imprisonment of non-combatants; Butler's woman order aforesaid; his sequestration of estates in western Louisiana; and the inciting to insurrection and arming of slaves on our side, as his justifications for proclaiming--

First. That all commissioned officers in the command of said Benjamin F. Butler be declared not entitled to be considered as soldiers engaged in honorable warfare, but as robbers and criminals, deserving death; and that they and each of them be, whenever captured, reserved for execution.

Second. That the private soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the army of said Butler be considered as only the instruments used for the commission of crimes perpetrated by his orders, and not as free agents; that they, therefore, be treated, when captured as prisoners of war, with kindness and humanity, and be sent home on the usual parole that they will in no manner aid or serve the United States in any capacity during the continuance of this war, unless duly exchanged.

Third. That all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong, to be dealt with according to the laws of said States.

Fourth. That the like orders be executed in all cases with respect to all commissioned officers of the United States, when found serving in company with said slaves in insurrection against the authorities of the different States of this Confederacy.

[Signed and sealed at Richmond, Dec. 23, 1862.]

42 41 Jan. 1, 1863.

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