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Doc. 57.-the fall of New Orleans, La.

Major-General Lovell's reports.

headquarters Department No. 1, Jackson, Miss., May 27, 1862.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General, Richmond, Virginia:
Sir: Herewith I have the honor to enclose my report of events attendant upon the fall of New Orleans. Also the reports of General Smith and General Duncan, the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Higgins and Captain Squires, and a report of the killed and wounded at these points.


Your obedient servant,

M. Lovell, Major General, commanding.

Report of Major-General Lovell.

headquarters Department No. 1, Vicksburg, May 22, 1862.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General Richmond, Virginia:
Sir: Herewith I have the honor to transmit the reports of Brigadier-Generals Duncan and Smith, with the accompanying documents, of the operations preceding and attendant upon the fall of New Orleans.

The department is fully aware, from my official correspondence and telegraphic despatches, of the exact nature of the defences erected for the protection of that city; consisting, in general terms, of an exterior line of forts and earthworks, intended to prevent the entrance of the armed vessels of the enemy, and an interior line in the immediate vicinity of the city, which was constructed almost entirely with reference to repelling any attack made by land with infantry. Where this line crossed the river below the city, it was intended to have a battery of twelve thirty-two and ten forty-two-pounders, which it was considered would enable us to drive back any small number of ships that might succeed in passing the obstructions at the forts, under the fire of their guns. But, whether sufficient or not, no more were to be had, and subsequently, at the earnest request of the naval authorities, I transferred the forty-two-pounders to the steamers Carondelet and Bienville, for service on Lake Pontchartrain, in connection [662] with Forts Pike and Macomb. Immediately after I assumed command of the department, finding that there were no guns of the heaviest calibre, I applied to Richmond, Pensacola, and other points, for some ten-inch columbiads and sea-coast mortars, which I considered necessary to the defence of the lower river, but none could be spared; the general impression being that New Orleans would not be attacked by the river, and I was therefore compelled to make the best possible defence with the guns at my disposal. Twelve forty-two-pounders were sent to Forts Jackson and St. Philip, together with a large additional quantity of powder, and being convinced that with the guns of inferior calibre mounted there we could not hinder steamers from passing, unless they could be detained for some time under the fire of the works, I pushed forward rapidly the construction of a raft, which offered a complete obstruction to the passage of vessels up the river, except through a small opening, and then only one at a time. The forts had seventy-five or eighty guns that could be brought successively to bear upon the river, were manned by garrisons of well-trained artillerists, affording a double relief to each gun, and commanded by officers who had no superiors in any service. Under these circumstances, although I feared the high water in the Spring, with the accompanying drift, would carry away the raft, yet every confidence was felt that the river would remain closed until such time as the iron-clad steamers Mississippi and Louisiana could be finished, which I was confidently informed would not be later than the first of February. The first raft constructed was not carried away by the high water and drift until the latter part of February. But with funds placed at my disposal by the citizens of New Orleans, another was placed in position in March, by the energetic labors of Colonel Higgins and others, and the position was again temporarily secure. No heavy guns had yet been received, although strenuous applications were made by me to get some from Pensacola, when that place was abandoned. The general impression of all those to whom I applied was, that the largest guns should be placed above New Orleans, not below, although I had notified the department, on the twenty-second of March, that in my judgment the fleet only awaited the arrival of the mortar vessels to attempt to pass up the river from below. By means, however, of an energetic and persevering officer, Major W. P. Duncan, Commissary of Subsistence, three ten-inch columbiads and five mortars were finally procured and brought over just in time to be put up as the firing commenced. Thinking that the enemy's troops at Isle Breton were intended to land at Quarantine and act in rear of Fort St. Philip, I ordered Colonel Sysmauski's regiment of ninety days men, armed with shot guns, to that point as a protection. I had, likewise, organized two companies of sharpshooters and swamp hunters, under Captains Mullen and Lartique, which were sent down for operation upon the enemy's vessels from the banks of the river, but the high water keeping the men day and night nearly waist deep in water, soon compelled them to abandon their positions. I will here state that every Confederate soldier in New Orleans, with the exception of one company, had been ordered to Corinth to join General Beauregard, in March, and the city was only garrisoned by about three thousand ninety day troops — called out by the Governor, at my request — of whom about one thousand. two hundred had muskets, and the remainder shot guns of an indifferent description.

The river rose rapidly in April, and soon drove out Sysmauski's regiment, which was removed to the west bank, about six miles above Fort Jackson. The whole country became one vast sheet of water, which rose in the forts and covered places heretofore safe from its encroachments. Under the tremendous pressure of this current and a storm of wind and rain, the second raft was broken away in the night of Friday, the eleventh of April, two days before the enemy first opened fire. The fourteen vessels of Montgomery River defence expedition had been ordered by the department, when completed, to be sent up to Memphis and Fort Pillow, but believing the danger of attack to be greater from below, I detained six of them at New Orleans, of which change the department was fully advised. At my suggestion, Governor Moore had also fitted up two steamers, which were sent to the forts below the city. A large number of fire-rafts were also. constructed and steered down, and two small steamers were employed for the special purpose of towing these rafts into position where they could be most effective, so as to leave the armed vessels free to operate against the enemy. I telegraphed General Beauregard to send down the iron-clad ram Manassas, and when the Secretary of the Navy ordered the steamer Louisiana to be sent also up the river, I protested through the War Department, being satisfied that we required more heavy guns below. She was eventually permitted to go down the river on Sunday, the twentieth of April, but not in a condition to use her motive power with effect.

It was hoped that, notwithstanding this, she would be able to assume a position below Fort St. Philip, discovering the location of the mortar boats, and being herself proof against direct fire, dislodge the enemy with her guns, which were of very heavy calibre. Knowing, also, that the incessant bombardment kept General Duncan closely confined to Fort Jackson, so that he could give no orders to the river defence steamers, I placed the whole under the control of Captain Mitchell, the armed steamers as well as the tugs intended to tow down the fire-rafts. I will here state, that the river defence fleet proved a failure, for the very reasons set forth in my letter to the department of the fifteenth of April. Unable to govern themselves, and unwilling to be governed by others, their almost total want of system, [663] vigilance, and discipline, rendered them useless and helpless, when the enemy finally dashed upon them suddenly in a dark night. I regret very much that the department did not think it advisable to grant my request to place some competent head in charge of these steamers. Learning, subsequently, that the Louisiana was anchored above the forts and that the firerafts were not sent down, I telegraphed Captain Mitchell, requesting him to attend to it, and afterwards called upon Commodore Whittle and entreated him to order the steamer to take the desired position below the forts. This he declined to do, but telegraphed Captain Mitchell, telling him “to strain a point to place the vessel there, if, in his judgment, it was advisable.” No change, however, was made, and in the night of the twenty-third March, I went down myself in a steamboat to urge Captain Mitchell to have the Louisiana anchored in the position indicated, also to ascertain why the fire-rafts were not sent down. A few moments after the attack commenced, and the enemy succeeded in passing with fourteen ships, as described in General Duncan's report, and the battle of New Orleans, as against ships of war, was over, I returned at once to the city, narrowly escaping capture, and giving orders to General Smith, in command of the interior lines, to prepare to make all possible resistance to the enemy's fleet at the earthwork batteries below the town, instructed Colonel Lovell to have several steamers ready to remove, as far as possible, the commissary and ordnance stores, being satisfied that the low developments at Chalmette could offer no protracted resistance to a powerful fleet, whose guns, owing to the high water, looked down upon the surface of the country, and could sweep away any number of infantry by an enfilading fire. These lines, as before remarked, were intended mainly to repel a land attack, but in a high stage of water were utterly untenable by infantry against guns afloat. It having been reported to me that a sufficient number of desperately bold men could easily be got together to board the enemy's vessels and carry them by assault, I authorized Major James to seize such steamers as might be necessary for his purpose, and to attempt it. He called for one thousand men by public advertisement, but being able to find but about a hundred who would undertake it, he abandoned the project. On the morning of the twenty-fifth the enemy's fleet advanced upon the batteries and opened fire, which was returned with spirit by the troops as long as their powder lasted, but with little apparent effect upon the enemy. The powder intended for this battery of thirty-two-pounders had been transferred by me to the steamer Louisiana a few days before, under the supposition that it would render much better service from her heavy rifles and shell guns than with a battery of light thirty-twos. For the operations at these works, you are respectfully referred to

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Fort Jackson (Louisiana, United States) (88)
Buras (Louisiana, United States) (53)
United States (United States) (13)
Mississippi (Mississippi, United States) (13)
Louisiana (Louisiana, United States) (12)
New Orleans (Louisiana, United States) (8)
Mississippi (United States) (8)
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John K. Mitchell (31)
John K. Duncan (21)
M. Lovell (15)
Edward Higgins (14)
David D. Porter (13)
L. L. James (11)
M. T. Squires (10)
John Mitchell (10)
W. P. Duncan (8)
Jonathan A. Stephenson (7)
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Stonewall Jackson (6)
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George S. Shyrock (5)
Saint Philip (5)
T. B. Huger (5)
C. C. Pinckney (4)
B. Kennon (4)
A. Grant (4)
William M. Bridges (4)
Sysmauski (3)
William H. Ryan (3)
Y. R. Poindexter (3)
W. G. Mullen (3)
Charles N. Morse (3)
Jonathan K. Mitchell (3)
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Thomas B. Huger (3)
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