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MITCHELL IN ALABAMA.
that it was a surprise. But if sweeping the camp of one enetire division before the men could fall into rank, and the oste storming of another so suddenly, that only a portion of the Wetroops could be rallied, while even those were captured with be their commander, does not constitute a complete surprise, d ta then it is hard indeed to define one. Whether the blame
rests on Grant or on the commanders of the front divisions, it .
is a question it may not be easy at present to decide; but
that there was negligence or ignorance somewhere, is indisled s putable. The rebel army on the first day was handled with ne il consummate skill; while on our side there seemed but little
done by our Generals, except to hold their troops as steady
as possible under fire, and delay the catastrophe that apOpeared inevitable, as long as possible. That we were not commind pletely overthrown is due alone to the merciful interposition
Of course this battle stopped for the time being, all farther movements in that locality. The remainder of Buell's division was brought up, and Halleck hastened to the field to take command in person, and reorganize the army.
In the mean time, the enemy began to fortify himself in Corinth, and prepare for the next grand struggle for the valley of the Mississippi; while Foote appeared before fort Wright to repeat the bombardment that had accomplished so little at Island Number Ten. During this interval, General Mitchell, with his brigade had been detached from Buell's army, and by a rapid, masterly march on Huntsville, Alabama, seized it without any loss, and captured two hundred prisoners. In the telegraph office, he found and deci- . phered a dispatch from Beauregard, asking for reinforcements and giving the effective force of his army. He also seized the rail road for fifty miles on either side, capturing some fifteen locomotives and other rolling stock.
EXPEDITION AGAINST NEW ORLEANS.THE FORTS AND OBSTRUCTIONS IN THE
MISSISSIPPI TO BE OVERCOME-THE BOMBARDMENT OF THE FORTS-FIRE RAFTS-FARRAGUT DETERMINES TO RUN THE BATTERIES A DEØPERATE BATTLE_CAPTAIN BOĠGS OF THE VARUNAÅ GALLANT BOY NEW ORLEANS SURRENDERED-STATE OF FEELING THERE- FARRAGOT'S ORDER DIRECTING THANKS TO BE OFFERED TO GOD FOR SUCCESS-BUTLER OCCIPIES THE CITY -PORTER'S LETTER CONCERNING THE BOMBARDMENT, AND THE RAMS.
HE month of April closed gloriously for the national
New Orleans, the most important city of the southern con. federacy, and thus made certain to us the final possession of the entire river.
Captain Farragut, with a fleet of gun boats, and Porter, with a mortar fleet, had long since left our northern waters for some unknown point. Much anxiety had been felt for its success; and when at length news was received that it had left Ship Island, where it was known to have rendezvoused, for New Orleans, accompanied by a land force under Butler, great fears were entertained of its ability to force the formidable barriers that blocked the river below the city.
Two forts, Jackson and St. Philip, nearly opposite each other, the former very strong and casemated, the two mounting in all two hundred and twenty-five guns, commanded the approach. In addition to these, a heavy chain had been stretched across the channel, buoyed upon schooners, and directly under the fire of the batteries, so that any
vessels attempting to remove it, could be sunk. There were besides, heavily mounted iran-clad gün boats, ponderous rams
before whose onset the strongest ship would go down, and fire rafts and piles of drift wood, ready to be launched on our advancing vessels. It was believed by the rebels, that nothing that ever floated, could safely pass all these obstructions, but should some few by a miracle succeed, bands of young men were organized in New Orleans, to board them at all hazard, and capture them.
Such were the obstacles that presented themselves to Far- · Tagut and Porter, as they, in the middle of April, slowly steamed up the mighty river.
It was laborious work getting the fleet over the bars at the mouth of the Mississippi, and up the rapid stream, to the scene of action, for the mortar boats were not steamers. Weeks were occupied in it, and the north almost began to despair of hearing any good report of the expedition, and eventually it was quite lost sight of in the absorbing news from the upper Mississippi, and the Tennessee. But though shut out from the world, its gallant commanders Frere quietly, but energetically preparing for the herculean task assigned them.
Six war steamers, sixteen gun boats, twenty-one mortar vessels, with six other national vessels, among them the Harriet Lane, Porter's flag-ship, making in all nearly fifty armed vessels, constituted the entire force. It was a forini, dable fleet, but it had formidable obstacles to overcome.
On the eighteenth the bombardment commenced, and the first day nearly two thousand shells were thrown into the forts. Some burst beyond them, others in mid air, and some not at all, while hundreds fell with a thundering crash inside the works, cracking the strongest casemates in their ponderous descent. On one side of the river, the mortar vessels lay near some trees on the bank, and the men dressed the masts in
green foliage to conceal their position. Decked out as for & Christmas festival, they could not be distinguished at the
SURVEYORS-ROW BOAT FLEET
distance of the forts from the trees, so that the enemy had only the smoke that canopied them for a nark to aim at. On the other side, tall reeds fringed the banks, and the vessels in position there were covered with rushes and flags, and daubed with Mississippi mud, which sadly confused the artillerists in the forts. The exact distance from the spot where they lay anchored, to the forts, had been determined by triangulation, conducted by the coast survey party under Captain Gerdes. The surveys to accomplish this, had been performed under the fire of the enemy, and great coolness and daring were shown by the party. The sailors had wondered at the presence of a coast survey vessel, carrying a crew armed with nothing more formidable than surveying instruments, save a few pocket revolvers, but it was now seen that science must first prepare the way, before the heavy shells could perform their appropriate work.
Early in the morning of the day on which the bombardment commenced, the rebels set adrift a huge flat boat, piled with pitch pine cord wood in a blaze. As it came down the stream, the flames roared and crackled like a burning forest, while huge columns of black smoke rose in swift, spiral columns, sky-ward. As it drifted near, two of our advanced vessels hastily slipped their cables and moved down stream. At first it was feared the blazing structure might contain torpedoes or explosive machines of some kind, and rifled shot were thrown into it. But it floated harmless by, lighting up the muddy stream as it receded. In order to be prepared for another, Captain Porter ordered all the row boats of the flotilla to be prepared with grapnels, ropes, buckets and
At sunset, this fleet of a hundred and fifty boats was reviewed, passing in single line under the Harriet Lane, each answering to the hail of the commander, “Fire buckets, axes and ropes ?" " Aye, aye, Sir.”
About an hour afterward, just as night had set in, a huge
column of black smoke was seen to rise from the river in the vicinity of the forts. Signal lights were immediately hoisted on all the vessels, and the next moment a hundred boats shot out in the darkness, ready for action. A fire raft was on its fearful way, lighting up the broad bosom of the Mississippi with its pyramid of flame, and sending the sparks in showers into the surrounding darkness. It made a fearful sight, and seemed well calculated to accomplish its mission of destruction. On it came, slow and majestically, swinging easily to the mighty current, when suddenly the Westfield opened her steam valves, and dashed fearlessly into the burning pile. Burying herself amid the crashing timbers and flying sparks, her captain turned a hose upon it, and a stream of water as from a fire engine played upon the lurid mass. The next moment the crowd of boats approached—the bronzed faces of the sailors, with buckets and ropes, standing out in bold relief in the broad glare—and fastened to the horrid phantom. Then, pulling with a will, they slowly towed it ashore, where they left it to consume ignobly away. It was bravely done, and as the boats returned they were cheered by the entire fleet.
For a whole, week the bombardment was kept up, while shot and shell from the enemy fell in a constant shower amid the squadron.
The gunners on the mortar boats were getting worn out, and when released from the guns, would drop down exhausted on deck. They began at last to grumble at the inactivity of the larger vessels.
At leagth, Farragut determined to run the rebel batteries -engage the gun boats and rams beyond, and then steam ap to New Orleans, cost what it would. The chain had been cut a few nights before, and the schooners that sustained it were trailing along the river bank. On the twenty-fourth of April, every thing being ready, at 2 o'clock, A. M. signal lan.