previous next

[58] Orleans itself was practically held by the presence of the navy, which had captured it; for the whole policy of the Confederates throughout the war was to abstain from all serious attempts to retake points within reach of the salt water, where the navy held control, but rather to let go what was lost and confine themselves to interior lines, where they were strong. They were willing to have it understood that they menaced such points, and New Orleans most of all, but there is no reason to suppose that they had any serious purpose of retaking it, any more than of recapturing Port Royal or Fernandina. It appears from the Confederate correspondence in Official War Records that there were from time to time propositions of this kind from hot-headed officers, as Gens. John M. Huger and David Ruggles, but that these were uniformly repressed by General Beauregard on the simple ground that the gunboats made it absolutely impossible. ‘So long as the enemy has command of the river with his gunboats, the recovery of New Orleans must depend upon our taking St. Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Washington and Baltimore, which I think could be done before long by a proper combination of our still latent forces and resources.’1 In other words, five large Northern cities must be taken first! ‘Meanwhile,’ he adds, ‘a proper organization of our State forces can keep the enemy within the limits of this desirable end.’2 The correspondence of the Confederate War Department with both Beauregard and Ruggles seems to imply that they kept thoroughly within this last reasonable view.3 On land they had every advantage; within the fire of the gunboats they were powerless. Their recapture of Galveston was not an exception, since the Union forces had merely occupied a wharf. No one doubts the great energy exhibited by General Butler in assuming and exercising his jurisdiction, half civil, half military, over the city of New Orleans, and in the then state of the public mind at the North the more obnoxious he made his rule the better; but it was essentially the government of a civil ruler, though under military and naval protection, and however well or ill accomplished lies apart from the present narrative, while the battles and skirmishes growing out of it find a proper place here.

At the time of the battle of Baton Rouge, Aug. 5, 1862, it is probable that Butler's whole active force did not exceed seven thousand men, having

1 Official War Records, XV, 794.

2 Official War Records, XV, 794.

3 Official War Records, XV, 792, 793, 799, 806, 807, 817, 840.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
David Ruggles (2)
B. F. Butler (2)
Beauregard (2)
John M. Huger (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
August 5th, 1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: