« PreviousContinue »
his flag was fired on several times, when he immediately returned. Half an hour after, a gig came down from the Rebel fort, bearing a white flag and a Rebel lieutenant with a motley crew. After learning the nature of our demand, he went back to the fort, and soon returned again with an answer from Colonel Higginson that our terms were inadmissible, and that the forts would never surrender.
Soon after the Rebel answer had been received by Captain Porter, the bombardment of the forts was renewed by him, and continued until the mortar fleet was ordered down the river on the approach of the burning ships and the ram Manassas, with a view to obtaining greater sea room for advantageous mancuvring
The larger part of the squadron having passed the forts, cheers of exultation, vehemently reiterated, made the welkin ring.
Of the gallantry, courage and conduct of this heroic action, unprecedented in naval warfare, considering the character of the work and the river, too much cannot be said.
At eleven o'clock on the morning of the 25th, the fleet weighed anchor and steamed up the river for New Orleans, leaving the Kineo and Wissahickon to guard the quarantine and keep possession of the canals leading out to the sea.
The sequel of this story, involving the surrender of the forts, I shall render very briefly. It had been arranged between the flag-officer and General Butler, that in case the forts were not reduced, and a portion of the fleet succeeded in passing them, that the General should make a landing from the Gulf side, in rear of the forts at the quarantine, and from thence attempt Fort St. Philip by assault, while the bombardment was continued by the fleet.
The General went with his troops to Sable Island, twelve miles in rear of Fort St. Philip. The 26th Massachusetts Volunteers, Colonel Jones, were then shipped on board the light draught steamer Miami, and taken within six miles of the fort, and from thence, with the aid of some thirty row-boat, conveyed four and a half miles further, the men, a part of the way, dragging the boats singly, themselves waist-deep in water. The enemy not considering this mode of attack possible, took no measures to oppose it. We occupied at once both sides of the river, effectually cutting them off from all supplies, while we made our dispositions for the assault Captain Porter had sent two schooners into the bayou to cut off all escape, and General Phelps had two regiments in the river below. Thus surrounded, and the men in mutiny, the forts surrendered to Captain Porter on the 28th of April, and were at once occupied by General Butler.
CAPTURE OF NEW ORLEANS.
LEAVING the Kneodout and Wissahickon to guard the quarantine and keep possession of the canals which lead out seaward, the fleet started up the river for New Orleans, at eleven o'clock, A. M., of the 24th of April, 1862.
For miles from their anchorage they found, on both sides of the river, the houses were decorated with white flags, and in many instances, tattered and torn American ensigns waved over fishing luggers and houses, while the people expressed their joy by hearty greetings, and waving of handkerchiefs. The precaution had been taken of cutting the telegraph wires every few miles, but the people of Orleans had been early warned of the fall of the forts, and made preparation to give the invaders a characteristic reception.
As the fleet proceeded, the negroes of the plantations left their labors and flocked to the levee, in apparent ecstacies of joy at its approach, ludicrously bowing, courtesying, and tossing hats and caps in the air.
During the afternoon dense columns of smoke were visible in the direction of New Orleans, indicating that something was on fire. The flames continued all the evening. At eight o'clock the fleet anchored eighteen miles below the city.
Getting under way again at half past five, A. M., on the 25th, we soon passed five large ships, laden with cotton, nearly consumed, evidently the source of the smoke and flames seen the evening before. At a quarter to eleven the Chelmette batteries were discovered on each side of the river, the one mounting ten guns, the other eight. They both opened fire on our advance, but were silenced in a few minutes, with the loss of one man overboard.
“This last affair," says Farragut, "is what I call one of the elegancies of the profession—a dash and a victory."
The river was filled with ships on fire, and along the levee were burning vessels, no less than eighteen being on fire at one time, and others were being fired as fast as
the torch could be applied. A terrible rain storm came on and the fleet came to anchor at one o'clock, P. M.
The view from the decks was such as will probably never be witnessed again. A large city lay at the mercy of our fleet
Its levee was crowded by an excited mob. The smoke of the ruins of millions of dollars worth of cotton and shipping at times concealed the people.
While men were hastening up the levee, firing ships and river craft as fast as possible, others were rushing to and fro. Some, who cheered for the Union, were fired upon by the crowd; men, women and children being armed with pistols, knives, and various weapons.
Some cheered for Jeff. Davis and Beauregard, using the most insolent and defiant language toward the old flag: order being a thing past and forgotten.
At two o'clock, Captain Bailey went on shore, bearing a flag of truce, for the purpose of communicating with the authorities. As the boats drew near the levee, the mob cursed the old flag and everything pertaining to it. It was with the greatest difficulty that the naval officers reached the City Hall, where the City Council. the Mayor and Major-General Lovell were awaiting their arrival.
Flag-Officer Farragut sent word to the authorities that he demanded the surrender of the City of New Orleans, and assured them of the protection of the “old flag" The city being under martial-law, of course the civil authorities could do nothing; but General Lovell, with much pomposity and bluster, replied that he would never surrender. But, on being informed that the city was in our power, he agreed to evacuate the city with his troops, numbering some ten or fifteen thousand, and leave matters to the civil authorities.
Captain Bailey and his aid, Lieutenant Perkins, then returned to the boats, suffering many insults and indig. nities by the way, as also did the officer in charge of the boats in their absence.
The next morning Mayor Monroe sent his secretary and chief of police to Commodore Farragut, to say that he would convene the Council at ten o'clock, and give him an answer: that the general had retired, and that he had resumed the duties of his office as mayor, and would endeavor to preserve order in the city and prevent the destruction of property.
Flag Officer Farragut sent the mayor a letter by his secretary, demanding a surrender of the city, in conformity with the demand made by him the day previous, through Captain Bailey. This second letter was as follows: off New Orleans, April 26, 1862.
;} To his Excellency the Mayor of the City of New Orleans.
SIR :-Upon my arrival before your city, I had the honor to send to your honor, Captain Bailey, U. S. N. second in command of the expedition, to demand of you the surrender of New Orleans to me, as the representative of the Government of the United States. Captain Bailey reported the result of an interview with yourself and the military authorities. It must occur to your honor, that it is not within the province of a naval officer to assume the duties of a military commandant. I came here to reduce New Orleans to obedience to the laws of, and to vindicate the offended majesty of the Government of the United States. The rights of persons and property shall be secured.
I, therefore, as its representative, demand the un