Imágenes de páginas


CHAP. XIV. Two hundred and fifty men were barely sufficient

to move a single piece on sling carts. The men were not allowed to speak above a whisper, and were guided by the notes of a whistle." Yet the task was pursued with such industry that on the 9th of April eleven batteries, comprising thirty-six guns, were ready to open fire at distances varying from 1650 to 3400 yards, and the fort was summoned to surrender at sunrise on the morning of April 10. A refusal having been received, the bombardment was begun, the fort making a vigorous reply. The surprising and hitherto unknown effectiveness of rifled guns and modern projectiles was quickly proved. By two o'clock of the second day's bombardment the fort was so far damaged by a large breach and the dismounting of eleven

of its guns as to compel its surrender, which took Report place that afternoon, April 11, 1862. The arma1866. W.'R. ment of the fort was forty-eight guns; its garrison pp. 149. 155- of 385 men were made prisoners. General Quincy

A. Gillmore conducted the siege operations, General David Hunter being at that time in command of the Department of the South.

It will be remembered that when Port Royal was captured in the previous autumn, it was the intention and expectation of the Government that the forces engaged in that enterprise should proceed at once in an attempt to repossess and occupy the whole Florida coast. For reasons heretofore mentioned, that project could not then be immediately carried out. The design, however, was not abandoned, and with the opening of the year 1862 preparations were made to renew the undertaking. Accordingly, an expedition sailed from



Port Royal during the month of March, consist- CHAP. XIV. ing of nineteen ships-of-war, under Flag-officer Samuel F. Du Pont, and a few transports, carrying a brigade of volunteers, under General H. G. Wright, which, within a few days, and without serious resistance, occupied, and thereafter securely held, the whole remaining Atlantic coast southward, including Brunswick, Fort Clinch, Fernandina, Cumberland Island and Sound, Amelia Sound, Jacksonville, and St. Augustine. Nor did the triumphs of the navy end here. While this reduction and repossession of the Atlantic coast was going on, another movement, more formidable in its preparation and more brilliant in its successes, was in progress.




VENTS bring us to the relation of the capture

the South, by a fleet under command of Flag-officer David G. Farragut. The expedition took shape very gradually; first, through information derived from the blockade; second, through the practical experience gained at the bombardment of the Hatteras forts in August, and those at Port Royal in October, of the year 1861. In these engagements the United States vessels of war demonstrated such a relative strength against shore batteries as to inspire confidence in yet more hazardous attempts of the same character. It was there proved that even wooden ships might be relied on to pass ordinary fortifications under fire with many chances of success; and upon this main idea the expedition against New Orleans was organized. When we remember with what limited means the Government began the gigantic task of establishing and maintaining the blockade, and of reducing the rebel defenses of the Atlantic harbors, it is matter of wonder that the additional ships and their armaments essential to the achievement of complete success in a new undertaking of such magnitude could have been collected within less than a year after the outbreak of the war.

The first indirect steps grew out of the necessities Chap. XV. of the Gulf blockade. Ship Island, lying in the Gulf, off the coast of the State of Mississippi, midway between New Orleans and Mobile, was many years since selected as a point on wbich to erect a Federal fort, which at the beginning of the rebellion had risen but little above its foundations. The island was taken possession of by the rebels, but found to be useless, with their limited resources, and abandoned. Thereupon the Union forces occupied it in September, and it soon became, because of its central position, the principal naval station in the Gulf. Several naval and military enterprises in that quarter were being suggested and studied during the autumn of 1861. Before it was determined whether the attack should be directed against the Texas coast, or New Orleans, or Mobile Bay, a preliminary force of 2500 troops, under command of General Benjamin F. Butler, was organized to be sent to Ship Island, with a view of taking part in an expedition against such of these points as might be selected. New Orleans being the most important prize, both military and political, naturally became the principal objective as information about the feasibility of its capture was collected. The turning-point in its selection seems to have been the arrival at Washington early in November of Commander David D. Porter from several months' blockading duty off the mouths of the Mississippi, bringing the latest information gleaned from spies and contrabands concerning the river and city defenses. The designs of the Navy Department were confidentially laid before him, and his professional Galaxy," opinion of the enterprise was asked.

Welles, in

Nov., 1871,

p. 677.


New Orleans lies on the Mississippi River, about one hundred miles above its mouths; and the chief obstacles the fleet would have to encounter in its ascent were Forts St. Philip and Jackson, situated nearly opposite each other at a bend of the river, seventy-five miles below the city. They were formidable forts of masonry, of scientific construction, originally built by the Government; and, like so many others, had been seized by the State authorities in the early movements of secession, and turned over to the use of the Confederates. Together they had an armament of over 100 guns, and garrisons of 600 or 700 men each. Fort Jackson lay on the right bank of the stream; St. Philip on the left bank half a mile above it. “The original proposition of the Navy Department," says ex-Secretary Welles, “was to run past

the forts and capture the city, when, the fleet being Welles, in above and communication cut off, the lower de

fenses must fall.” Commander Porter concurred in
the desirability and probable success of the naval
expedition which the department suggested and
outlined, but strongly advised the addition of a
powerful mortar flotilla, which should reduce these
formidable forts by a bombardment before the
fleet essayed to pass them, so as to leave no enemy
or serious obstruction in the rear; and his proposal
was adopted.

The formal beginning of the enterprise dates
from the 15th of November. On the evening of
that day there met at the residence of General Mc-
Clellan a council composed of President Lincoln,
Mr. Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Assistant-Sec-
retary Fox, Commander Porter, and McClellan

Nov., 1871,

p. 678.



« AnteriorContinuar »