Chapter 13: the capture of New Orleans.
- Plan for the capture of New Orleans
-- Porter's mortar fleet, 328.
-- the defenses of New Orleans, 329.
-- confidence of the Confederates in their defenses
-- the fleets of Farragut and Porter, 330.
-- their appearance on the Mississippi River, 331.
-- bombardment of forts Jackson and St. Philip, 332.
-- passage of the forts by War-vessels, 333.
-- battle with the forts and the ram Manassas, 334.
-- fearful struggle of the Hartford, 335.
-- a desperate naval battle, 336.
-- capture of forts Jackson and St. Philip, 339.
-- excitement in New Orleans, 340.
-- flight of Lovell and his troops, 341.
-- Farragut approaches New Orleans
-- Destruetion of property there, 342.
-- Farragut before the City, 343.
-- folly of the civil authorities
-- impertinence of a French naval Commander, 344.
-- National troops in New Orleans, 345.
-- General Butler and the absurd Mayor Monroe
-- Butler's proclamation, 346.
-- rebellion rebuked and checked, 347.
-- martial law proclaimed
-- concessions to the people, 348.
-- benevolent and Sanitary measures
-- the rebellious spirit of citizens, 349.
-- Butler's famous “woman order”
-- its effects, 350.
-- a traitor hung
-- Butler's administration, 351.
-- effect of the capture of New Orleans, 352.
was the place of rendezvous for the naval as well as the land portion of the forces destined for the capture of New Orleans.
The naval force was placed under the command of Captain David G. Farragut
, a loyal Tennesseean, who sailed from Hampton Roads
in the National
armed steamer Hartford
, on the 2d of February, 1862, and arrived in the harbor of Ship Island
on the 20th of the same month, having been detained by sickness at Key West
He had been instructed by the Secretary of the Navy
to proceed with all possible dispatch to the Gulf of Mexico
, with orders for Flag-officer McKean
, on duty there, to transfer to the former the command of the Western Gulf squadron.
He was informed that a fleet of bomb-vessels, under Commander David D. Porter
(with whose father Farragut
had cruised in the Essex
during the war of 1812), would be attached to his squadron, and these were to rendezvous at Key West
He was directed to proceed up the Mississippi
so soon as the mortar-vessels were ready, with such others as might be spared from the blockade, reduce the defenses which guarded the approaches to New Orleans, and, taking possession of that city under the guns of his-squadron, hoist the American
flag in it, and hold possession until troops could be sent to him. If the Mississippi
expedition from Cairo
should then not have descended the river, he was to take advantage of the panic which his seizure of New Orleans would produce, and push a strong force up the stream, to take all their defenses in the rear.
“Destroy the armed barriers which these deluded people have raised up against the power of the United States Government,” said the Secretary
, “and shoot down those who war against the Union
; but cultivate with cordiality the first returning reason, which is sure to follow your success.”
With these instructions, and with plans of the known works on the lower Mississippi
, furnished by General Barnard
, who constructed Fort St. Philip
, one of the chief of those works, Farragut
proceeded to the performance of the duties required of him.
's mortar fleet had been for several months in preparation at the Navy Yard
, and had caused a great deal of speculation.
It consisted of twenty-one schooners of from two hundred to three hundred tons each, made very strong, and constructed so as to draw as little water as possible.
They were armed with mortars of eight and a half tons weight, that would throw a 15-inch shell, weighing, when filled, two hundred and twelve pounds. Each vessel also carried two 32-pounder rifled cannon.
at Key West
; and when all were in readiness, it was arranged that the forts below New Orleans should be first attacked by Porter
's fleet, Farragut
and his larger and stronger vessels remaining in a reserve just outside ,of the range of the Confederate
guns, until they should be silenced by the mortars.
Failing in that, Farragut
was to attempt to run by the forts.
When this should be accomplished, he was to clear the river of the Confederate vessels and isolate the forts from their supplies and supports, when General Butler
should land his troops in the rear of Fort St. Philip
, the weaker fortification, and attempt to carry it by assault.
If success should crown these efforts, the land and naval forces were to pass on toward New
in such manner as might seem best.
For these purposes, the combined forces were ready for action at the middle of April.
The Confederates had made the most ample provisions, as they thought, for the sure defense of New Orleans.
The infamous General Twiggs
whom the Louisiana
insurgents had called to their command, had been superseded by Mansfield Lovell
, formerly a politician and office-holder in the City of New York
He was assisted by General Ruggles
, a man of considerable energy.
everywhere saw evidences of Twiggs
's imbecility; and, when he was informed of the gathering of National ships and soldiers in the Gulf
, he perceived the necessity of strongly guarding every avenue of approach to New Orleans.2
's special efforts for defense were put forth on the banks of the Mississippi
, between the city and its passes or mouths.3
The principal of these were Forts Jackson
and St. Philip
, the former built by the Government
, and the latter was an old Spanish fortress, which had figured somewhat in the war of 1812.
These were at a bend of the Mississippi
, about seventy-five miles above its passes.
They occupied opposite sides of the stream, and were under the immediate command of Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Higgins
, a Virginian.
The general command of the river defenses was intrusted to General J. K. Duncan
, formerly an office-holder in New York, who was regarded as one of the best artillerists in the Confederate
The armament of the forts, for which they were prepared, was one hundred and fifty guns each.
Between Fort Jackson
, on the right bank of the river,
and the opposite shore, seven hundred yards distant, a heavy iron chain-cable was stretched upon buoys made of cypress logs, and covered by a battery at each end. Adjoining Fort Jackson
a formidable water-battery was constructed; and under the guns of the forts lay a fleet composed of thirteen gun-boats, a powerful ironclad floating battery called the Louisiana
, and the ram Manassas
, already mentioned.4
Also numerous firerafts, prepared to send down to destroy the invading fleet.
In and around New Orleans was a force estimated at about ten thousand men, which the newspapers magnified,
The Louisiana. |
for the purpose of alarming the Nationals and strengthening the faith of the people.5
That faith in the defenses of the city was very strong, for they believed them to be impregnable.
Never doubting that impregnability, the citizens continued their occupations as usual.
One of the journals boastingly said, “Our only fear is, that the northern invaders may not appear.
We have made such extensive preparations to receive them, that it were vexatious if their invincible armada escapes the fate we have in store for it.”
“The authorities at Richmond
were so well assured of safety, by General Duncan
, that they refused, even to entertain the possibility of a penetration of the outer line of defenses, even when the mortar-fleet had begun its work.”
All things were in readiness for assault on the 17th of April.
The fleets of Farragut
were in the river, and Butler
, with about nine thousand troops,9
was ready at the Southwest
Pass, just below, to,
So early as the 28th of March, Fleet-captain Henry H. Bell
had made a reconnoissance well up toward Fort Jackson
, with two gun-boats, and found a thick wood covering the shores of the Mississippi
for about four miles below it. This was favorable for the intended operations of the Nationals.
On the 8th of April, a detachment of the coast-survey party made a minute examination of the river-banks under the protection of the Owasco;
and, on the 18th, two divisions (fourteen vessels) of Porter
's flotilla were moored under cover of the wood, on the shores just below Fort Jackson
To prevent the discovery of his movement, Porter
had daubed the hulls of his vessels with Mississippi
mud, and clothed their masts and rigging with the boughs of trees, in such a way that they could not, at a distance, be distinguished from the forest.
As when “Birnam wood” moved “toward
Mortar vessels Disguised. |
Dunsinane,” the strategy was successful, and his vessels were moored at desirable points without being discovered, the nearest one being two thousand eight hundred and fifty yards from Fort Jackson
, and three thousand six hundred and eighty from Fort St. Philip
The remaining division (six vessels) was moored on the opposite side of the river, at a little greater distance from the forts, the hulls of the vessels screened by reeds and willows to conceal their character.
The Mississippi was full to the brim.
It was rising, and gradually submerging the adjacent country.
The chain and its, supports at Fort Jackson
had been swept away by the flood, and only slight, obstructions appeared in its place, composed of eight hulks and some of the cypress logs chained together.
The battle was begun before nine o'clock on the morning of the 18th, by a shot from Fort Jackson
As soon as Porter
was ready, the Owasco
opened fire, and the bombardment was commenced by the fourteen mortar-vessels, concealed by the woods, and the six in full view of the forts.
was in a position on the Harriet Lane
to observe the effects of the shells, and he directed their range accordingly; and by ten o'clock the conflict was very warm.
It was continued for several days with very little intermission, the gun-boats taking part by running up when the mortar-vessels needed relief, and firing heavy shells upon the forts.
Perceiving little chance for reducing the forts, Farragut
prepared to execute another part of his instructions by running by them.
On the 20th
he called a council of captains in the cabin of the Hartford
when that measure was decided upon.
, who had arrived with his staff, had been up in a tug to take a look at the obstructions, and had reported that they must be opened before any vessels could pass, especially when under fire.
So, at ten o'clock that night under cover of intense darkness, the wind blowing fiercely from the north, Commander Bell
, with the Pinola
, supported by the Iroquois, Kennebec
, and Winona
, ran up to the boom.
ran to the hulk under the guns of Fort Jackson
, and an attempt was made to destroy it by a petard, but failed.
was lashed to the next hulk, when a rocket thrown up from Fort Jackson
revealed her presence, and a heavy fire from the fortress was opened upon her. The vigorous application of chisels, sledges, and saws for half an hour parted the boom of chains and logs, and the hulk to which the Itaska
was lashed swung round and grounded the latter in the mud, in shallow water.
rescued her. Two hours afterward an immense fire-raft came roaring down the stream like a tornado,
Attack on the forts. |
and, like its predecessors on similar errands, it was caught, and rendered harmless to the vessels it was intended to destroy.
Day after day the bombardment was continued, and night after night the fire-rafts were sent blazing down the stream.
, the principal object of attack, still held out. On the first day of the assault, its citadel was set on fire by Porter
's shells and destroyed, with all the clothing and commissary stores, the garrison suffering severely for several hours from the intense heat of the conflagration.
On the 19th, the mortar-schooner Maria J. Carleton
was sunk by a rifle-shell from Fort Jackson
, and, at the same time, the levee having been broken in scores of places by exploding shells, the waters of the Mississippi
had flooded the parade-ground and casemates of the fort.
For six days the bombardment continued, with such slight effect that Duncan
reported that he had suffered very little, notwithstanding his barbette
guns had been disabled at times, and that twenty-five thousand heavy shells had been hurled at him, of which one thousand had fallen within the fort.11
“God is certainly protecting us,” he said.
“We are still cheerful, and have an abiding faith in our ultimate success.”
At sunset on the 23d, Farragut
was ready for his perilous forward movement.
The mortar-boats, keeping their position, were to cover the advance with their fire.
Six gun-boats (Harriet Lane, Westfield, Owasco, Clinton, Miami
, and Jackson
, the last towing the Ports-mouth
) were to engage the water-battery below Fort Jackson
, but not to make an attempt to pass it. Farragut
, with his flag-ship Hartford
, and the equally large ships Richmond
, that formed the first division, was to keep near the right bank of the river, and fight Fort Jackson
,. while Captain Theodorus Bailey
, with the second division,, composed of
the Pensacola, Mississippi, Oneida, Varuna, Katahdin, Kineo, Wissahickon
, and Portsmouth
, was to keep closely to the eastern bank, and. fight Fort St. Philip
To Captain Bell
was assigned the duty of attacking the Confederate fleet above the forts.
He was to keep in the channel of the river with the Sciota, Winona, Iroquois, Pinola, Itaska
, and Kennebec
, and push right on to his assigned work without regard to the forts.
and his staff went on board the Saxon
, and at eleven o'clock at night a signal from the Itaska
, that had run up to the boom, announced the channel clear of obstructions, excepting the hulks, which, with care, might be passed.
The night was very dark, owing to
a heavy fog; and the smoke from the steamers settled upon the waters, and shrouded every thing in almost impenetrable gloom.
At one o'clock in the morning,
everybody was called to action.
There was an ominous silence at the forts, which the inexperienced thought indicated their evacuation.
It was not so. Energetic preparations for a more formidable assault were going on there.
The fleet, now in command of Commodore Whittle
, was summoned to a rendezvous near the fort; and other preparations indicated that a knowledge of thea movement about to take place below had been communicated to the Confederate
The fleet moved at two o'clock, and at half-past 3 the divisions of Farragut
were going abreast up the swift stream, at the rate of four miles an hour.
Then the mortars (the vessels still at their moorings), which were prepared for the most rapid firing, opened a terrible storm on Fort Jackson
Not less than half a dozen enormous shells were screaming through the thick night air, with their fiery trails, at the same moment.
Steadily the fleet moved on, when the discovery of the Cayuga
, Captain Bailey
's ship, just as she had passed the opening in the boom, caused the forts tan break their long silence, and bring heavy guns to bear upon her. She did not reply until she was close under those of Fort St. Philip
, when she gave that work heavy broadsides of grape and canister as she passed by. The Pensacola, Mississippi, Varuna
, and Portsmouth
were following close in the wake of the Cayuga
, and in all respects imitated her example; and the whole of Bailey
's division passed the forts almost unharmed, excepting the sailing vessel Portsmouth
, which, on firing a single broadside, lost her tow and drifted down the river.
was less fortunate.
The Sciota, Iroquois
, and Pinola
, passed the forts, but the Itasca
was disabled by a storm of shot, one of which pierced her boiler, and she drifted helplessly down the river.
From that storm the Winona
recoiled, and the Kennebec
, becoming entangled in the
obstructions, lost her way in the intense darkness, and finally returned to her moorings below.
The waning moon was now just above the horizon, and the mist and smoke had become less dense.
, in the fore-rigging of the Hartford
, had been watching the movements of Bailey
through his night-glass with the greatest interest, while the vessels under his immediate command were slowly approaching Fort Jackson
When he was within a mile and a quarter of it, the heavy guns of that fortress opened with a remarkable precision of aim, and the Hartford
was struck several times.
had mounted two guns upon the forecastle, and with these he promptly replied, at the same time pushing ahead directly for the fort.
When he was within half a mile of it, he sheered off and gave the garrison such broadsides of grape and canister that they were driven from all their barbette
But the casemate guns were kept in full play, and the conflict became very severe.
soon joined in the fight; but the Brooklyn
lagged behind, in consequence of becoming entangled with one of the hulks that bore up the great chain.
Ram Manassas attacking the Brooklyn. |
As soon as the Brooklyn
was extricated and turned its bow up the river, the ram Manassas
came down upon it furiously, and fired from its trap-door, when within about ten feet of the ship, a heavy bolt at the Brooklyn's
smoke-stack, which fortunately lodged in some sand-bags that protected her steam-drum The next moment the ram butted into the ship's starboard gang-way, but the chain armor that had been formed over the sides of the Brooklyn
so protected it that the Manassas
glanced off and disappeared in the gloom.
had been exposed to a raking fire from Fort Jackson
while entangled in the boom and encountering the Manassas
. She had just escaped the latter, when a large Confederate steamer assailed her. She gave it a broadside that set it on fire and consigned it to swift destruction.
Then pushing slowly on in the dark she suddenly found herself abreast Fort St. Philip
, and very close to it. She was in a position to bring all her guns to bear upon it in the course of a few minutes.
This was done with powerful effect.
“I had the satisfaction,” said Captain Craven
in his report, “of completely silencing that work before I left it, my men in the tops witnessing, in the flashes of the bursting shrapnel,12
the enemy running like sheep for more comfortable quarters.”
Shrapnel shell. |
, in the mean time, “was having a rough time of it,” as he said.
While battling with the forts, a huge fire-raft, pushed by the Manassas
, came suddenly upon him, all a-blaze.
In trying to avoid this, the Hartford
was run aground, and the incendiary came crashing alongside of her. “In a moment,” said Farragut
, “the ship was one blaze all along the port side, half way up to the main and mizzen tops.
But thanks to the good organization of the fire department, by Lieutenant Thornton
, the flames were extinguished, and at the same time we backed off and got clear of the raft.
All this time we were pouring shells into the forts, and they into us, and now and then a rebel steamer would get under our fire and receive our salutation of a broadside.”
The Hartford. |
Before the fleet had fairly passed the forts, the Confederate gunboats and rams appeared and took part in the battle, producing a scene at once awful and grand.
The noise of twenty mortars and two hundred and sixty great guns afloat and ashore, was terrific.
The explosion of shells, sunken deep in the oozy earth in and around the forts, shook land and water like an earth-quake; and the surface of the river was strewn with dead and helpless fishes stunned by the concussions.
“Combine,” said Major Bell
, of Butler
's staff, “all that you have ever heard of thunder, and add to it all you have ever seen of lightning, and you have perhaps a conception of the scene.”
And all this noise and destructive energy — the blazing fire-rafts, the floating volcanoes sending forth fire and smoke, and bolts of death, and the thundering forts, and the ponderous rams, were all crowded, in “the greatest darkness just before the dawn,” within the space of a narrow river--“too narrow,” said Farragut
, “for more than two or three vessels to act to advantage.
My greatest fear was that we should fire into each other; and Captain Wainwright
and myself were hallooing ourselves hoarse at the men not to fire into our ships.”
We have observed that the fleet had not fairly passed the river obstructions before the Confederate rams and gun-boats appeared.13
encountered that flotilla as soon as she passed Fort St. Philip
, the floating battery Louisiana
, and sixteen other armed vessels, all under the command of Captain Mitchell
of the Louisiana
, were, for a few moments, intent upon her destruction.
To stand and fight would have been madness in Captain Bailey
, for no supporting friend appeared.
So he exercised his skill in steering his vessel in a manner to escape the butting of the rams, and the attempts to board her. Thus he saved the Cayuga
. He did more.
In his maneuvers he was offensive as well as defensive, and compelled three of the Confederate
gun-boats to surrender to him before the Varuna
, Captain Boggs
, and the Oneida
, Captain Lee
, came to his rescue.
Then the Cayuga
, which had been struck forty-two times during the struggle, and much damaged in spars and rigging, moved up the river pursuant to Farragut
's orders to Bailey
as leader of the fleet.
was now the chief object of the wrath of the foe, and terribly its vials were poured upon her. Commander Boggs
said, in his report, that immediately after passing the forts, he found himself “amid a nest of rebel steamers.”
His vessel rushed into their midst, and fired broadsides into each as he passed.
The first one that received the Varuna's
fire seemed to be crowded with troops.
Her boiler was exploded by a shot, and she drifted ashore.
Soon afterward the Varuna
drove three other vessels (one a gun-boat) ashore, in flames, and all of them blew up. She was soon afterward
furiously attacked by the ram Governor Moore,
commanded by Beverly Kennon
, who had abandoned his flag.
It raked along the Varuna's
port gangway, killing four and wounding nine of her crew.
managed, he said, “to get a three-inch shell into her, abaft her armor, and also several shot from the after rifled gun, when she dropped out of action, partially disabled.”
Meanwhile another ram, its iron prow under water, struck the Varuna
a heavy blow in the port gangway.
shot in return glanced harmlessly from the armored bow of her antagonist.
Backing off a short distance, and then shooting forward, the ram gave the Varuna
another blow at the same place, and crushed in her side.
The ram, becoming entangled, was drawn around nearly to the side of the Varuna
, when Boggs
gave her five 8-inch shells abaft her armor from his port guns.
“This settled her,” said Boggs
, “and drove her ashore in flames.”
Finding his own vessel sinking, he ran her into the bank, let go her anchor, and tied her bow up to the
All that time her guns were at work crippling the Moore
, and they did not cease until the water was over the gun-trucks, when Boggs
turned his attention to getting the wounded and crew out of the vessel.
Just then, the Oneida
, Captain Lee
, came to the rescue of the Varuna
, but Boggs
waved him on after the Moore
, which was then in flames.
The latter was surrendered to the Oneida
by her second officer.
She had lost fifty of her men, killed and maimed; and Kennon
, her commander, had set her on fire and fled, leaving his wounded to the cruelty of the flames.14
Thus ended one of the most desperate combats recorded in the history of the war. It was “short, sharp, and decisive.”
Within the space of an hour and a half after the National
vessels left their anchorage, the forts were passed, the struggle had occurred, and eleven of the Confederate vessels, or nearly the whole of their fleet, were destroyed.
The National loss was thirty killed and not more than one hundred and twenty-five wounded.
When Captain Bailey
withdrew with the crippled Cayuga
, and left the
View at the Quarantine grounds.15 |
to continue the fight, he moved up the river to the Quarantine Station
, a short distance above Fort St. Philip
On the west bank of the river opposite was a battery, in charge of several companies of Confederate sharp-shooters of the Chalmette (Louisiana)
regiment, commanded by Colonel Szymanski
, a Pole.
On the approach of the Cayuga
they attempted to flee, but a volley of canister-shot from her guns made them halt, and they became
prisoners of war. The battle was now over, and all of Farragut
's ships, twelve in number, that had passed the forts joined the Cayuga
. Then the dead were carried ashore and buried.
While this desperate battle was raging, the land troops, under General Butler
, had been preparing for their part in the drama.
They were in the transports at the Passes, and had distinctly heard the booming of the guns and mortars.
The General and his staff, as we have observed, were on the Saxon
. She followed close in the rear of Bailey
's division, until the plunging of shells from the forts into the water around her warned the commanding General
that he had gone far enough.
So eager had been his interest in the scenes before him, that he had entered the arena of imminent danger without perceiving it. He ordered the Saxon
to drop a little astern, to the great relief of her Captain
, to whom a flaming shell would have been specially unwelcome, for his vessel was laden with eight hundred barrels of gunpowder.
Almost at the same moment the Manassas
, that had been terribly pounded by the Mississippi
, and sent adrift in a helpless state, was seen moving down into the midst of Porter
Some of these opened fire upon her, but it was soon perceived that she was harmless.
Her pipes were all twisted and riddled by shot, and her hull was well battered and pierced.
The Manassas. |
was issuing from every opening, for she was on fire.
In a few minutes her only gun went off, and the flames burst out from her bow-port and stern trap-door.
Giving a plunge, like some huge monster, she went hissing to the bottom of the Mississippi
had now thirteen of his vessels in safety above the forts, and he prepared to move up to New Orleans, while Porter
, with his mortar-fleet, was still below them, and they were yet firmly held by the Confederates
The time for Butler
to act had arrived.
Half an hour after Farragut
had reached the Quarantine, he sent Captain Boggs
in a small boat, through shallow bayous in the rear of Fort St. Philip
with dispatches for Butler
The former had already procured the light-draft steamer Miami
, and had hastened to his transports.
These were taken to Sable Island
, twelve miles in the rear of Fort St. Philip
, and from that point the troops made their way in small boats through the narrow and shallow bayous with the greatest fatigue, under the general pilotage of Lieutenant Weitzel
Sometimes the boats were dragged by men waist deep in cold and muddy water; but the work was soon and well accomplished, and on the night of the 27th Butler
was at the Quarantine, ready to begin the meditated assault on Fort St. Philip
the next day. His troops were landed a short distance above the fort, under cover of the guns of the Mississippi
. A small force was sent across the river to a position not far above Fort Jackson
In the mean time Porter
had been pounding Fort Jackson
terribly with the) shells from his mortars.
On the 26th, he sent a flag of truce with a demand for its surrender, and saying that he had information that Commodore Farragut
was in possession of New Orleans.
On the following morning, Colonel Higgins
, the commander of the forts, replied that he had no official information of the surrender of New Orleans, and, until such should be received by him, no proposition for a surrender of the works under his command could be entertained for a moment.
On the same day, General Duncan
, then in Fort Jackson
, issued an address to the soldiers, as the commander of the coast defenses, urging them to continue the contest, saying: “The safety of New Orleans and the cause of the Southern Confederacy--our homes, families, and every thing dear to man — yet depend upon our exertions.
We are just as capable of repelling the enemy to-day as we were before the bombardment.”
But the soldiers did not all agree with him in opinion.
They saw the blackened fragments of vessels and other property strewing the swift current of the Mississippi
, and were satisfied that the rumors of the fall of New Orleans that had reached them were true.
They had also heard of Butler
's troops in the rear of Fort St. Philip
So that night a large portion of the garrison mutinied, spiked the guns bearing up the river, and the next day sallied out and surrendered themselves to Butler
's pickets on that side of the river, saying they had been impressed, and would fight the Government
now saw that all was lost, and he hastened to accept the generous terms which Porter
While these terms were being reduced to writing in the cabin of the Harriet Lane
towed his battery (the Louisiana
), which lay above the forts, out into the strong current, set her on fire, and abandoned her, with her guns all shotted.
He expected she would blow up in the midst of the mortar-fleet, but the explosion occurred when she was abreast of Fort St. Philip
, when a flying fragment from her killed one of its garrison.
She at once went to the bottom of the
river, and the remaining Confederate steamers surrendered without resistance.17
turned over the forts and all their contents to General Phelps
. Fort Jackson
was only injured in its interior works, and Fort St. Philip
was as perfect as when the bombardment began.18
No reliable report of the losses of the Confederates
in killed and wounded was ever given.
The number of prisoners surrendered, including those of the Chalmette
regiment and on board of the gun-boats last taken, amounted to nearly one thousand.
The entire loss of the Nationals, from the beginning of the contest until New Orleans was taken, was forty killed and one hundred and seventy-seven wounded.
the truth when he said Farragut
was in possession of New Orleans.
The city was really lost when the Commodore
's thirteen armed vessels were lying in safety and in fair condition at the Quarantine.
Of this imminent peril of the city General Lovell
had been impressed early that morning.
He had come down in his steamer Doubloon
, and arrived just as the National
fleet was passing the forts.
He came near being captured in the terrible melee on the river that ensued, and sought safety on shore.
Then he hastened to New Orleans as fast as courier
horses could take him, traveling chiefly along the levee, for much of the country was overflowed.
He arrived there early in the afternoon, and confirmed the intelligence of disaster which had already reached the citizens.
A fearful panic ensued.
Drums were beating; soldiers were seen hurrying to and fro; merchants fled from their stores; women without bonnets and brandishing pistols were seen in the streets, crying, “Burn the city!
Never mind us!
Burn the city!”
impressed vehicles into the service of carrying cotton to the levees to be burned.
Specie, to the amount of four millions of dollars, was sent out of the city by railway; the consulates were crowded with foreigners depositing
Twiggs's House.19 |
their money and other valuables for safety from the impending storm; and poor old Twiggs
, the traitor, like his former master, Floyd
, fearing the wrath of his injured Government, fled from his home, leaving in the care of a young woman the two swords which had been awarded him for his services in Mexico
, to fall into the hands of the conquerors who speedily came.20
On his way to New Orleans, Lovell
had ordered General Smith
, who was in command of the river defenses below the town, known as the Chalmette
to make all possible resistance; and in the city he tried to raise a thousand volunteers, who should make a desperate attempt to board and capture the National
vessels, but he found only one hundred men who evinced sufficient courage or desperation to undertake the perilous task.
was satisfied himself, and he convinced the city authorities that the regular and volunteer troops under his immediate command were too few to make resistance, and he could not rely on the milltia conscripts, nor a regiment of free colored men who had been pressed into the service, in the presence of foes that they might welcome as their friends.
These considerations, and the fact that, on account of the height
New Orleans and its vicinity. |
of the river surface at that time of flood, a gun-boat might pass up to Kenner
's plantation, ten miles above the city, and command the narrow neck between the river and the swamp, across which the railway passes, and thus prevent the troops and supplies going out, or supplies and re-enforcements going into the town, made it absolutely necessary that they should escape as soon as possible.
prepared to abandon New Orleans.
He disbanded the conscripts, and sent stores, munitions of war, and other valuable property up the country by steamboats and the railroad and while a portion of the volunteers hastened to Camp Moore, on the Jackson
and New Orleans
railway, seventy-eight miles distant, the regiment of colored troops refused to go.
With nine vessels Farragut
proceeded up the river on the morning of the 25th, and when near the English Turn
he met evidences of the abandonment of New Orleans by the Confederates
in the form of blazing ships, loaded with cotton, that came floating down the stream.
Soon afterward, he discovered the Chalmette
batteries on both sides of the Mississippi
, a few miles below the city, and at once made dispositions to attack them.
The river was so full that his vessels completely commanded the Confederate
Moving in two lines, they proceeded to the business of disabling them.
The gallant Bailey
, who had not noticed the signal for close order, was far ahead with the Cayuga
, and for twenty minutes she sustained a heavy cross-fire alone.
pressed forward with the Hartford
, and, passing the Cayuga
, gave the batteries such destructive broadsides of shell, grape, and shrapnel that at the first discharge the Confederates
were driven from their guns.
and the Brooklyn
, and then the remainder of the fleet, followed the Hartford's
example, and in the course of twenty minutes the batteries were silenced and their men were running for their lives.
The victors were now in the midst of a terrific scene.
The river was strewn with fire rafts, burning steamers, and blazing cotton bales, and over.
hung by an awful canopy of black smoke, sent up by the great conflagration.
As soon as it was known that the National
vessels were approaching the city, another great panic prevailed, and the work of destruction of property commenced, by order of the Governor
and General Lovell
In a very short time a sheet of flame and pall of smoke, caused by burning cotton, sugar, and other staples of that region, were seen along the levee for the distance of five miles. Foolishly believing that the cotton which they regarded as king was the chief object of the Nationals, the infatuated people sent it in huge loads to the levee to be destroyed.
The levee at New Orleans. |
front of the various presses along the river front it was piled and fired, and in this way no less than fifteen thousand bales, valued at one million five hundred thousand dollars, were consumed.
More than a dozen large ships, some of them laden with cotton, and as many magnificent steamboats, with unfinished gunboats and other vessels, were soon wrapped in flames and sent floating down the river, the Confederates
hoping they might destroy the approaching
But the latter all escaped, and at about one o'clock in the afternoon Farragut
's squadron was anchored off the city, while a violent thunderstorm was raging.
New Orleans was now utterly defenseless.
was there, but a greater portion of his troops had been sent away, with the concurrence of the civil authorities, who wished to spare the town the horrors of a bombardment.
was sent ashore with a flag, bearing a summons from Farragut
for the surrender of the city, and a demand that the Confederate
flag should be taken down and that of the Republic
raised over the public buildings.
made his way through a hooting, cursing crowd to the City Hall, escorted by sensible citizens.
To the demand for surrender, Lovell
returned an unqualified refusal, but saying, that as he was powerless to hold the city against great odds, and wishing to save it from destruction, he would withdraw his troops and turn it over to the civil authorities.
At the same time he advised the Mayor
not to surrender the city, nor allow the flags to be taken down by any of its people.
Acting upon this foolish advice, the Mayor
(John T. Monroe
), one of the most unworthy of the public men of the day, refused to surrender the city or take down the Louisiana
flag from the City Hall.
This refusal was in the form of a most ridiculous letter to Farragut
, in which the Mayor
declared that, while his people could not prevent the occupation of the city by the National
forces, they would not transfer their allegiance to a government they had deliberately repudiated.24
In the mean time a force had landed from the Pensacola
, which was lying opposite Esplanade Street, and, unopposed, hoisted the National
flag over the Government Mint
; but as soon as they retired it was torn down and dragged in derision through the streets by young men belonging to the Pinckney Battalion
, and a gambler named William B. Mumford
This act was hailed with acclamation by the secessionists of New Orleans, and caused paragraphs of praise and exultation to appear in the public journals.
It ended in a serious tragedy, as we shall observe presently.
In reply to the Mayor
's absurd letter, the patient Farragut
referred to the pulling down of the flag, the indignities to which it was subjected, and the insults offered to his officers, and said, with a meaning which the most obtuse might understand, “all of which go 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 the innocent population which I have heretofore endeavored to assure you that I desire by all means to avoid.”
He concluded by saying, “The election, therefore, is with you; but it becomes my duty to notify you to remove the women and children from the city within forty-eight hours, if I have rightly understood your determination.”
To this message the absurd Mayor
returned a most ridiculous answer — as ridiculous, considering the circumstances, as the mock-heroic babble of a circus harlequin — in which he uttered nonsense about “murdering” women and children,26
and charged Farragut
with a desire to “humble and disgrace the people.”
After solemnly assuring the Commodore
that such satisfaction he could not obtain, he said dramatically, “We will stand your bombardment, unarmed and undefended as we are. The civilized world will consign to indelible infamy the heart that will conceive the deed and the hand that will consummate it.”
The substance of the Mayor
's letter was, as has been observed, “ ‘Come on shore and hoist what flag you please.
Don't ask us
to do your flag-raising.’
Slightly impudent, perhaps; but men who are talking from behind a bulwark of fifty thousand women and children can
be impudent if they please.”
To the insolence of the Mayor
was added the greater impertinence of the commander of a French ship-of-war which had just arrived, who wrote a note to Farragut
that his Government had sent him to protect the persons and property of its thirty thousand subjects in New Orleans, and that he demanded sixty days, instead of forty-eight hours, as the time to be given for the evacuation of the city by the inhabitants.
He concluded with a threat, saying, “If it is your resolution to bombard the city, do it; but I wish to state that you will have to account for the barbarous act to the power which I represent.”
The veteran commodore was sorely perplexed, and, while revolving in his mind what to do, he was relieved by the intelligence of the surrender of the forts below.
He now felt that he could afford to wait, for the speedy possession of New Orleans by General Butler
's troops was made an almost absolute certainty.
Up to that moment it was believed by the citizens that the forts below could not be taken, and this was the chief reason for the defiant attitude of the public authorities there.
Now their tone was changed, and, to appease Farragut
, he was semi-officially informed, in a private manner, that the hauling down of the flag from the Mint was the “unauthorized act of the men who performed it.”
On the following day, Captain Bell
landed with a hundred marines, put the National
flag in the places of the ensigns of rebellion on the Mint and Custom House
, locked the door of the latter, and returned with the key to his vessel.
Those flags were undisturbed.
The occupation of the “European
brigade,” a military organization in New Orleans, ostensibly for the purpose of aiding the authorities in the protection of the citizens from unruly members, but really in the interests of the Confederates
, composed of British, French, and Spanish aliens, was now almost at an end, and the English
members of it, who admired the frequent displays of “British neutrality” elsewhere, now imitated it by voting at their armory, that, as they would have no further use for their weapons and accouterments,
they would send them to Beauregard
's army at Corinth
, as “a slight token of their affection for the Confederate States
On the 30th, Farragut
informed the city authorities that he should hold no further intercourse with a body whose language was so offensive, and that, so soon as General Butler
should arrive with his forces, he should turn over the charge of the city to him, and resume his naval duties.
Let us see what General Butler
had been doing for the few preceding days.
A few hours after Mumford
and his companions had pulled down the National
flag, General Butler
arrived and joined Farragut
on the Hartford;
and, in his report to the Secretary of War
on the 29th, he foreshadowed his future act by saying: “This outrage will be punished in such manner as in my judgment will caution both the perpetrators and abettors of the act, so that they shall fear the stripes
if they do not reverence the stars
of our banner.”
He hastened back to his troops, and took measures for their immediate advance up the river.
His transports were brought into the Mississippi
, and these, bearing two thousand armed men, appeared off the levee in front of New Orleans on the first of May.
The General and his staff, his wife, and fourteen hundred troops, were on the same vessel (Mississippi
) in which they left Hampton Roads
sixty-five days before.
Preparations were made for landing forthwith.
In his order for the movement, he forbade the plunder of all property, public or private, in the city; the absence of officers and soldiers from their stations without arms or alone; and held the commanders of regiments and companies responsible for the execution of the orders.
At four o'clock in the afternoon
the debarkation of a part of the troops at the city commenced, while others were sent over to occupy Algiers
, opposite New Orleans.
A company of the Thirty-first Massachusetts was the first to land.
These were followed by the remainder of the regiment; also by the Fourth Wisconsin, Colonel Paine
; and Everett
's battery of heavy field-guns.
These formed a procession and acted as an escort for General Butler
and his staff, and General Williams
and his staff; and to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner they marched through Poydras and St. Charles Streets to Canal Street, under the guidance of Lieutenant Weigel
, of Baltimore
, one of Butler
's aids, who was familiar with the city.
They took possession of the Custom House
, whose principal entrance is on Canal Street, and there the Massachusetts
regiment was quartered.
Strict directions had been given not to resent any insults that might be offered by the vast crowd that filled the side-walks, without orders; but if a shot should be fired from a house, to halt, arrest the inmates, and destroy the building.
Every moment the crowd became greater and more boisterous, and the patience of the troops was much tried during that short march.
Their ears were assailed by the most offensive epithets, vulgar and profane, applied to the General
and his troops,29
yet the consciousness of supporting power behind the pacific order caused them to march silently on to their
posted his cannon around the Custom House
, and comparative quiet prevailed in New Orleans that night.
's Twelfth Connecticut landed, and bivouacked on the levee by the side of Butler
's Headquarters ship, the Mississippi
, on board of which the commanding general spent the night.
At an early hour in the evening, he had completed a proclamation to the inhabitants of New Orleans, in which his intentions, as the representative of the Government
, were explicitly stated.30
had resolved to act with strictest justice toward the deluded people, and to be kind and lenient to all who showed a disposition to be peaceable.
But his first trial of the temper of those with whom he had to deal was discouraging.
He sent his proclamation to the office of the True Delta
newspaper, to be printed as a hand-bill.
The proprietor flatly refused to use his types in such an act of “submission to Federal rule.”
Two hours afterward an officer with a file of soldiers (half a dozen of whom were printers) had possession of the True Delta
office, and the proclamation was soon issued in printed form.
Meanwhile, Colonel Deming
had encamped in Lafayette Square, and General Butler
had taken possession of General Lovell
's recent Headquarters in the St. Charles Hotel
, not far distant, established his own there, and invited the city authorities to a conference.
The silly Monroe
told the General
's messenger that the Mayor
's place of business was at the City Hall.
It was intimated to him that such a reply would not satisfy the commanding general
; so the Mayor
, taking counsel of prudence, waited upon General Butler
at the St. Charles
, with Pierre Soule
, formerly a representative in Congress, and some other friends.
The interview was instructive to both parties.
There appeared a wide difference of opinion as to the
status of the inhabitants of New Orleans in relation to the General Government
; and the dividing line was so distinctly seen at this interview, that there could be no question about it thereafter.
took the broad national ground that the inhabitants in general had been in rebellion against their lawful Government; that the authority of that Government, being supreme, rightfully demanded the allegiance of the people; and that no other authority, except that sanctioned by the Government
, could be allowed in the management of the public affairs of the city.
and his friends persisted in regarding Louisiana
as an independent sovereignty, and the object of the primary allegiance of its citizens.
They considered the National
troops as invaders and intruders, and, as a sequence, the people as doing right in treating them with contempt and abhorrence, and fully justified in driving them from the city if they could.
An instant reply to this assumption was practically given.
An immense mob had collected in the street in front of the St. Charles
They were exasperated by the seizure of that building by General Butler
, and threatened violence.
Cannon had been planted and a regiment had been posted for the protection of Headquarters, but, while the General
and the city authorities had been in conference, the conduct of the populace had become so alarming, that General Williams
sent word to Butler
that he feared he could not control them.
The General calmly replied: “Give my compliments to General Williams
, and tell him, if he finds he cannot control the mob, to open upon them with artillery.”
and his friends sprang to their feet in consternation.
“Don't do that, General,” exclaimed the terrified Monroe
“Why not, gentlemen?”
“The mob must be controlled.
We can't have a disturbance in the street.”
The lunatic Mayor
had partially recovered his senses in Butler
's presence, and, going out to the balcony, he informed the mob of the General
's orders, and advised them to disperse.
That evening the inhabitants of New Orleans, who chose to listen, heard “The Star Spangled Banner” and other National airs, to which their ears had long been strangers, played by a band on the balcony of the St. Charles
Within twenty-four hours after this occurrence, the temper of the people and that of General Butler
were mutually understood; and his proclamation, which was not issued until the 6th of May, was a rule for all loyal or disloyal citizens.
It had been read at the conference at the St. Charles
just mentioned, when Soule
declared that it would give great offense, and that the people, who were not conquered, and could not be expected to act as a conquered people, would never submit to its demands.
“Withdraw your troops, General,” said the distinguished and accomplished Frenchman, “and leave the city government to manage its own affairs.
If the troops remain, there will certainly be trouble.”
This threat, though uttered in smooth terms, brought a withering rebuke from the commanding general
. “I did not expect to hear from Mr. Soule
on this occasion,” he said.
“I have long been accustomed to hear threats from southern gentlemen in political conventions; but let me assure the gentlemen present that the time for tactics of that nature has passed, never to return.
New Orleans is
a conquered city.
If not, why are we
How did we get here?
Have you opened your arms and bid us welcome?
Are we here by your consent?
Would you or would you not expel us if you could?
New Orleans has been conquered by the forces of the United States
, and, by the laws of all nations, lies subject to the will of the conquerors.”
In accordance with this doctrine General Butler
found it necessary to administer the affairs in the Department of the Gulf, of which he was the commander.
In his interview with the Mayor
, he had generously offered to leave the municipal government of New Orleans to the free exercise of all its powers so long as it should act in consonance with true allegiance to the General Government
, and that offer had been answered by a threat.
He saw clearly that compromise was out of the question, and that rebellion must be treated as rebellion, and traitors as traitors.
He accordingly commenced a most vigorous administration of public affairs.
Major Joseph W. Bell
was appointed Provost-Judge
and Colonel Jonas H. French Provost-Marshal
At the same time an effort was made to remove all causes for unnecessary irritation, and to conciliate the people.
The General left the St. Charles Hotel
, and made his military Headquarters in the house of General Twiggs
, and his private residence in the fine mansion of Dr. Campbell
, on the corner of St. Charles and Julia Streets, which was afterward occupied by General Banks
The Common Council having accepted a generous proposition of the General
, the civil city government was allowed to go on as usual.
The troops were withdrawn from the vicinity of the City Hall, and camps on public squares were broken up. Quite a large number of the soldiers were sent to Carrolton
, under General Phelps
, where a permanent camp was formed.
Others, under General Williams
, went up the river with Commodore Farragut
, to take possession of and hold Baton Rouge
Others were sent to points in the vicinity of New Orleans, and in the course of a few days the wish of Soule
was literally complied with, for the troops were all withdrawn from the city, excepting a sufficient number retained to act as an efficient provost-guard.
These concessions did not necessarily imply any relaxation of all proper authority.
They were mistaken as such, however, and the rebellious spirit, which was made quiet only by compulsion, soon began to show itself.
That spirit speedily learned that the commander of the Department was a real power within the sphere of his assigned duty, that must not be resisted.
Sensible men also perceived that he was a power fraught with much good for the city, which had been ruled for years by vicious politicians of the Monroe school
He established the most perfect order, and instituted a
system of cleanliness for the promotion of the health of the citizens, before unknown to them, and which is yet in successful operation.
On his arrival, ribald voices in the crowd on the levee had cried out, “Wait till Yellow Jack
[yellow fever] comes, old Cock-eye!
He'll make you fly!”
But “Yellow Jack
” was not allowed to come; and that terrible scourge has not appeared in New Orleans since General Butler
made it clean, and taught the inhabitants to keep it so. Residents there declared to the author, when he visited that city in the spring of 1866, that gratitude for incalculable blessings should prompt the inhabitants to erect a statue of General Butler
in one of the public squares, in testimony of their appreciation of a real benefactor.
organized plans for the alleviation of the distress among the inhabitants, and invited the civil authorities to unite with him in the merciful work.
But they were deaf to the voice of righteousness.
Withholding relief from their starving fellow-citizens, they sent provisions to the camps of the insurgents who had fled from the city.34
In every possible way attempts were made to thwart the orders and wishes of General Butler
while he was feeding the starving poor by thousands, and was working day and night to revive and restore the business of the city, that its wonted prosperity might return.
Among his troops there was perfect order.
No man had been injured, and no woman had been treated with the least disrespect.
But the corrupt Mayor
was surly and insolent.
The newspapers were barely restrained from seditious teachings.
The foreign consuls, and foreign population generally, sympathized with the spirit of resistance; and many of the women who claimed to be of the better sort, taking advantage of the wide latitude in speech and action allowed to their sex in American society, were: particularly offensive in their manifestations of contempt for the General
and his troops.
When Union officers approached, they would leave the sidewalks, go round them in the middle of the street, and with upturned noses would utter some insulting words, often more vigorous than elegant.
They would draw away their skirts when a private soldier passed them, and leave street cars and church pews when Union officers entered them.
They wore secession colors on their bonnets; in feminine schools they kept the pupils singing rebel songs; groups on balconies turned their backs on passing soldiers,, and played airs that were used with rebellious words; and in every conceivable way they insulted the troops.
These things were patiently borne, as sensible men endure the acts of imbeciles or lunatics, notwithstanding they were indicative of the hellish spirit that was making war on the Government
and the rights of man; and the follies of these deluded women were the subjects of much merriment among the troops.
But when, at length, a woman of the “dominant class,” with the low manners of the degraded of her sex, deliberately spat in the face of two officers, who were walking peacefully along the street, General Butler
determined to arrest the growing evil at once, and on the 15th of May the town was startled by an order that struck the root of the iniquity, by placing such actors in their appropriate social position.
was intended to work silently, peacefully, and effectually.
And so it did. The grave offense was not repeated.
Sensible and virtuous women did not indulge in such vulgarities, and were not touched by the order.
The foolish women recovered their senses through its operation;36
and so did the Mayor
and his accomplices in crime, when the power of their outraged Government was felt by the former, by arrest and threatened imprisonment in Fort Jackson
; by Soule
, the ablest of the instigators of treason in Louisiana
, as a prisoner in Fort Warren
; and by one of the leaders of the mob, when he stood a felon on the scaffold, in the midst of a vast number of his fellow-citizens, because of his overt act of treason in pulling down the National
flag from the Government Mint
had made the publication of the “Woman order” the occasion of a most impudent and absurd letter to General Butler
, saying, among other things, “Your officers and soldiers are permitted by the terms of this order to place any construction they may please upon the conduct of our wives and daughters, and upon such construction to offer them atrocious insults.”
This letter was answered by the deposition and arrest of the
and the appointment of General G. F. Shepley
, of Maine
, as Military Governor
of New Orleans, who at once organized an efficient police force and made the city a model of quiet and good order.
This vigor was followed by the arrest of William B. Mumford
, his trial and conviction by a military court, and his execution as a traitor in the presence of a vast multitude, who quietly dispersed to their homes, with the salutary reflection that the Government
had indeed “repossessed” its property, and was exercising its rightful authority in the city of New Orleans
Of the details of General Butler
's administration in the Department of the Gulf, until he was superseded by General Banks
, at the middle of
December following — how he dealt with representatives of foreign governments; with banks and bankers; with the holders of Confederate money and other property; and with disloyal men of every kind, from the small offender in the street to the greater offender in public positions and in the pulpit — it is not our province here to consider.41
Suffice it to say, that it then seemed wise and salutary in the necessary assertion of the sovereign authority of his Government; and, to the candid student of events there, it yet seems to have been wise and salutary.
Promptness and decision marked every step of his career.42
Measures for the
public good were continually planned and executed, and toward the close of summer he took the first step in the employment of negroes as soldiers, which the enemies of the Government
had practised there.
When General Banks
arrived to take command of the Department, there were three regiments of these soldiers, with two batteries manned by them, well drilled for his use, under the common name of the Louisiana Native Guard.
Louisiana native Guard. |
The loss of New Orleans was the heaviest blow the Confederacy
had yet received, and for a while it staggered under its infliction.
“It annihilated us in Louisiana
,” said the Confederate
historian of the war; “diminished our resources and supplies, by the loss of one of the greatest grain and cattle countries within the limits of the Confederacy
; gave to the enemy the Mississippi River
, with all its means of navigation, for a base of operations, and finally led, by plain and irresistible conclusion, to our virtual abandonment of the great and fruitful valley of the Mississippi.”
Let us now return to a consideration of the Army of the Potomac, which we left in a quiet condition after the little flurry at Drainsville, at near the close of the year.
Tail-piece — camp Chest.|