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each; the whole number of guns and mortars was 310, many of them very heavy and very good. Capt. Farragut, our commander, had passed 52 of his 63 years in the navy, having been a midshipman in the war of 1812; a Tennessean, his loyalty was of that stern and sterling quality whereof the best examples were furnished by the South. His time, and that of his officers, had for weeks been well spent in providing and preparing every thing likely to be required in the intended combat; so that when, on the day after our fleet reached the vicinity of the forts," and before it had opened fire, a Rebel flat-boat, piled with wood saturated with tar and turpentine, and then cut adrift, came rushing down the heady current—a crackling, roaring, flaming volcano—into the midst of our thickly clustering vessels, a few shells were thrown into it from the gunboat Mississippi, without the designed effect of exploding and sinking it; when a row-boat from the Iroquois quietly tackled it, fixed three grappling-irons in its bow, and towed it obliquely to the river bank, where it was permitted to burn itself harmlessly away, while the fleet proceeded with its preparations for the morrow’s bombardment. Axes, ropes, fire-buckets, and whatever else might be needed, were placed exactly where they would be at hand when wanted, and every thing made ready for business. At daylight next morning, each of the small steamers took four of the schooners in tow and drew them slowly up the river, their decks and yards covered with great branches of trees, whose green foliage rendered them
FORTS JACKSON AND ST. PIIILIP.
Erplanations.—A, B, C, D, &c., are points on the left bank, and 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., points on the right bank of the river, selected for o: the gunboats and mortars in position. ... The position of the mortar-boats on the 18th was as follows: 6 mortars on the left bank, between G. and J, 8,900 to 4,500 yards from Fort Jackson; 14 mortars on the right bank, from 1 to 5, distant 2,830 to 8,190 yards from Fort Jackson. On the 19th, they were alion the right bank, 8,010 to 4,100 yards from Fort jackson and remained nearly in the same position through the 20th and 21st. The large steamers and gunboats were placed from 3 to 1% miles below the mortar boats, on the first day, the small steam sloops and gunboats went up to abreast of the smoke-stack, where they engaged the forts
and the enemy's steamers.
of Jackson, distant 2% to three miles; all were under orders to concentrate their fire on Fort Jackson, that being the larger and more important work, whose fall necessarily involved that of Fort St. Philip. At 9 A.M., before our mortar vessels were ready, Fort Jackson opened fire; but her balls struck the water 100 yards short of our gunboat Owasco, which held the advance, and which was first to reply. Capt. Porter, who commanded the mortar fleet, watched through his glass the effect of our very deliberate fire, constantly giving new directions, founded on his observations, as to the elevation of pieces, length of fuse, and weight of charge. By 10 A. M., both parties had closed their experiments, and were firing steadily and heartily, though as yet with little visible effect, save that the fish in the river, stunned and killed by the tremendous concussions, had begun to float past our anchored vessels. Soon, three more rafts are seen sweeping down from the new barrier of chains and hulks, and, as they approach, are dealt with as their predecessor had been, without interrupting the fire of our guns. At 4 P.M., Gen. Butler's little dispatch steamer Saxon arrived, with news that the army was below, ready and waiting for service, and that the Monitor had disabled the Merrimac in Hampton Roads. At 5, flames were seen bursting from Fort Jackson, whose fire slackened; and it was manifest that its wooden interior had been
ignited, like that of Fort Sumter in the initial bombardment of the war. The Rebel forts ceased firing, as our boats did, an hour later, and the night passed silently; the flames in
Fort Jackson not being extinguished till 2 next morning. But its batteries opened as lively as ever at sunrise, and at 11:30 one of their rifled bolts crashed through one of our schooners, sinking her in 20 minutes; while the Oneida, in our advance, was twice hit in the afternoon, two of her guncarriages Smashed, and 9 of her men wounded. . The fort had evidently suffered by the day's work; but the fathomless mud of the Mississippi seemed exactly constituted to absorb our shells, with the least possible harm to all around. Gen. Butler and staff arrived during that afternoon, and went up in a small boat to take a look at the chain; which, it had begun by this time to be understood, was badly in the way, and must be subjected to an operation. The bombardment having been continued through a third day without encouraging result, Capt. Farragut called a council of captains in the cabin of his flag-ship IIartford, and, having heard all opinions, decided on an attempt to force a passage by the forts. To this end, it was essential that the cable should first be broken; and to Capt. Bell, with the gunboats Pinola and Itasca, supported by the Iroquois, Kennebec, and Winona, was assigned the conduct of this critical undertaking; which, the night being dark, it was determined to attempt forthwith ; and, at 10 P.M., the Pinola and Itasca had set out on their perilous errand; Capt. Porter, so soon as they were out of range of his guns, opening upon Fort Jackson a tremendous fire from all his mortar-schooners, under which the Pinola ran up toward the cable near the Western shore, directly under the guns of the
fort; and, nearing one of the hulks, Mr. Kroehl, the inventor of a new and powerful petard, threw it on board; but it failed to explode, because the Pinola, having stopped her engine a moment too soon, was whirled away on the rushing current, snapping the wire hitherto connected with the petard. The wind blowing fiercely from the north, it was half an hour before the Pinola was again minding her helm, with her bow toward the chain. Meanwhile, the Itasca, Captain Caldwell, had steamed up to the chain-supporting hulk next in order eastward, and, making fast to its side, her men, who had boarded the hulk, were studying in the darkness the economy of the cable. A rocket thrown up from Fort Jackson favored them with a fitful, transient light, to which a cannonade, instantly opened on them from both forts, seemed to add very little ; but they steadily went on with their business; and in half an hour the great chain, vigorously plied with sledge and chisel, had been cut; the cables by which the hulk was anchored had been slipped; and now the hulk, still chained to the nearer shore, was swept resistlessly round by flood and wind until it grounded in the mud of the bank, pulling the lashed Itasca along with it, and driving her fast aground directly in the range of both forts. By this time, however, the Pinola was ready to come to her rescue; and, after an hour of earnest tugging, and parting two 5-inch hawsers, she finally grappled her with an 11-inch cable, and, by help of steam and current, dragged her again into deep
water and down into the kindly darkness; each vessel entirely unharmed: and the opening thus made in the barrier was speedily and constantly enlarged by the current, so that a boat's crew from the Itasca, pulling up in the thick darkness two nights later, found nothing to obstruct the upward passage of our fleet. A new and grander fire-raft was Sent down two hours after the chains were broken, only to be caught and served as her predecessors had been. The bombardment was continued two days farther; in part, because two of our gunboats had been so much injured as to require assistance for their rapid repair. The morning of the 24th was fixed on for the grand attempt, of which the Rebel officers somehow had an intimation; so that, throughout the preceding day, the forts were silently preparing for the eventful hour at hand, while our bombardment was little more than a formality. Meantime, Duncan reported from Fort Jackson that he had suffered very little, though 25,000 13-inch shells had been fired at him, whereof 1,000 had fallen within the fort. (We had actually fired 5,000 only.) “God is certainly protecting us,” was his assurance. Farragut's arrangements for passing the forts were completed at sunset.” The mortar-boats, retaining their stations, were to cover the advance with their utmost possible fire. Six small steamers—the IIarriet Lane, Westfield, Owasco, Clinton, Miami, and Jackson, the last towing the Portsmouth—were to engage the water battery below Fort Jackson, but not attempt to pass. Capt. Farragut himself, with his three largest ships—the Hartford, Richmond, and Brooklyn—was to keep near the western bank, fighting Fort Jackson; while Capt. Bailey, with the Cayuga, Pensacola, Mississippi, Oneida, Varuna, Katahdin, Kineo, and Wissahickon, was to hug the eastern bank, exchanging compliments with Fort St. Philip. Capt. Bell, with the third division—consisting of the Scioto, Iroquois, Pinola, Winona, Itasca, and Kennebec—was to keep the middle of the river, and, disregarding the forts, to attack and vanquish the Rebel fleet in waiting above. Lieut. Weitzel had wisely suggested that, as the guns of the forts had been fired at a high elevation in order to reach their remote assailants, and as the vessels would naturally be expected to keep the middle of the river, the Rebel gunners would be pretty sure to fire over them if they kept close to the respective shores. All being ready, Gen. Butler and his staff went on board the Saxon; every naval officer was at his post; and the silence was only broken by an occasional fire from the mortar-sloops. At 11 P.M., a signal from the Itasca announced that the opening in the cable was still unclosed. The night was dark and heavy; the moon—what there was of it—would rise at 3 A. M. At 1,” all hands were called, steam got up, the last preparations made, and at 2 the signal to weigh anchor was given from the flag-ship. Half an hour later, Farragut's division was ready. Capt. Bailey, a little slower, was farther away; it was 34 before the latter was fairly abreast of Farragut, when each division moved silently up stream. The current was
So swift, the night so heavy, that the fleet advanced but four miles per hour. The silence was broken by our mortars, whose gunners, prepared for the rapidest possible fire, at once filled the air with their shells, and roared out to the Rebels their warning that the hour had come. As our ships in their three lines closely followed each other, Capt. Bailey, in the Cayuga, was first observed and opened upon by both forts as he was passing through the breach in the barrier. He did not choose to give better direction to the enemy's fire by replying; and, though their balls were abundant, they mainly passed over and around him. Approaching Fort St. Philip, he ran close under her guns, giving her broadsides of grape and canister as he passed; the Pensacola, Mississippi, and Varuna, pressing closely in his wake, followed his commendable example. All of his division passed the forts essentially uninjured. Capt. Bell's division was less fortunate. The Pinola, Scioto, and Iroquois, ran the gauntlet of the forts unharmed ; but the Itasca, when directly opposite St. Philip, received a volley of balls, one of which pierced her boiler and compelled her to drift down the river. The Winona recoiled from that fire, and failed to pass. The Kennebec was caught in the cable; and, when liberated, lost her way in the dense smoke; finally returning to her former anchorage below the forts. Capt. Farragut, in the fore rigging of the Hartford, anxiously watching every visible movement through his night-glass, had advanced within a
* April 24.
mile and a quarter of Fort Jackson, when he was opened upon from that Fort and repeatedly struck. Still steaming directly for the fort, and replying only from his two forecastle guns, when within half a mile he sheered and gave them broadsides of grape and canister, which soon drove every man from their barbette guns; but those in the casemates rendered full and quick returns for every volley received. The Richmond, closely following, hurled grape and canister in profusion. The Brooklyn, bringing up the rear, ran over one of the hulks which had upheld the chain, during a hot fire from Fort St. Philip. Hardly had she been freed from the hulk and her head turned up stream, when the ram Manassas came butting into her starboard gangway, first opening her iron trap-door at ten feet distance and firing at the smoke-stack of the Brooklyn a heavy bolt, which was caught and stopped by the sand-bags protecting her steam-drum. A guard of chain armor, which had been woven over her sides, shielded her from destruction by the ram, which soon slid off and disappeared in the darkness. A few minutes later, while still under a raking fire from Fort Jackson, the Brooklyn was attacked by a large Rebel steamer, to which she gave a broadside at 50 yards, setting it instantly on fire and putting an end to its career. Still groping onward in the thick darkness, Capt. Craven soon found himself abreast of Fort St. Philip, and so near that his leadsman reported 13 feet of water. Bringing all his guns to bear for a few moments, he poured in grape and canister so that the fort was completely
- * Commander Boggs's official report.
silenced, and her garrison were seen by our men in the tops of the Brooklyn, by the fitful flashes of their bursting shrapnel, running like sheep to their coverts. Thus passing the upper fort, Capt. Craven engaged several of the Rebel gunboats, at 60 to 100 yards. IIe was an hour and a half under fire, lost 8 killed and 26 wounded, while his ship was badly cut up by shot and shell; but she bore her full part in the attack on the Rebel batteries below New Orleans next morning. The Cayuga, having saluted and passed Fort St. Philip at short range, still pushing on, encountered, when just out of fire of the fort, the entire Rebel flotilla, consisting of 18 gunboats, including the Manassas and Louisiana. For a moment, her doom seemed certain, as no supporting ship was to be seen. By skillful steering, however, Capt. Bailey avoided all their attempts to butt and board, and had already forced three of the less formidable to surrender, when the Varuna and Oneida were seen coming to the rescue. At early dawn, perceiving a Rebel camp on the right bank of the river, Capt. Bailey anchored close beside it, and ordered the Rebels to pile their arms on the bank and come on board as prisoners, which was obeyed. The captives proved to be the Chalmette regiment, Col. Sysmanski. Their flag, tents, and camp equipage, formed a part of the spoils. The Varuna, having safely passed the forts, found herself “amid a nest of Rebel steamers,” “into which she plunged, firing broadsides at each as she passed it, exploding the boiler of the first, which appeared to be