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[36] of which was assigned to Gen.. M. L. Smith. Anxious to strengthen the forts on the river, he had applied to Beauregard for the ram Manassas, which was sent down the river in time, and took a part in the bombardment of April 24th, to be referred to presently.

In connection with the defense of the forts, a raft of logs and chains—popularly supposed to be invincible—had been placed across the river between Forts Jackson and St. Philip.1

In the latter part of February the ‘invincible’ raft was stormed by the invincible Mississippi, which first broke it and finally scattered its logs, a wreck of flotsam on its waters. Through the public spirit of the citizens of New Orleans another raft, consisting of a line of schooners, strongly chained amidships, was anchored by Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins in position between the two forts. A windstorm struck this raft and scattered the schooners.

On March 27th Farragut was crossing the bar. As though in sympathy, the river, swollen and turgid, hurled that day a yellow flood into the forts, causing continual pumping, with careful isolation of the magazines. In the first week of April seven to thirteen sloops of war were constantly at the head of the Passes, or at the Jump, nine miles below the forts. In the river above were Confederate steamers, reconnoitering and spying them out. With these watched, also, four steamers of the river fleet. To a certain extent they had been made shot-proof with cotton bulkheads, and provided with iron prows to act as rams; but vain was the hope that with such auxiliaries the exploits of the Merrimac in Hampton Roads could be duplicated in the lower Mississippi. In

1 Fort Jackson is on the western bank, thirty miles from the mouth of the river. Fort St. Philip is on the eastern bank, a few hundred yards above. These forts were well-constructed permanent works of an old pattern, containing all the available stores both of guns and ammunition.

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