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himself, whom the President had recently made Chap. XV. general-in-chief of all the armies. Here the proposed expedition against New Orleans was for the first time mentioned to the general; with the other members of the council it was already a familiar topic. Hitherto, the army plans against New Orleans contemplated reaching it with a column descending the Mississippi from Cairo, and, premising that it would require an army of 50,000 to attack it from the Gulf, McClellan objected that he could not detach that number of troops from other undertakings. Mr. Welles replied that he expected the navy to capture the city, and that he only asked a contingent of 10,000 to hold it; one-fourth of this number was already destined for Ship Island. McClellan promised the required forces; the project was once more fully discussed and definitely ordered by the President; and three days thereafter to Porter, Porter was instructed to proceed to New York and « Galaxy." organize his mortar flotilla, which he was to command in person.
The enterprise once agreed upon, there came the momentous and perplexing question, who should command and lead an expedition of this magnitude and importance? By happy fortune the choice of the department fell upon Captain David G. Farragut, sixty years of age, forty-eight years of which had been spent in naval service, he having become a midshipman when he was eleven years old. He was made lieutenant at twenty-four, commander at forty, and captain at fifty-four. But in all this time his talents, experience, and service had largely outrun his opportunities for distinction. Fame approached her favorite with unusual tardiness,
Chap. XV. even after the beginning of civil war. Though
born in Tennessee, and twice allied by marriage with Virginia families, his heart was untouched by disloyalty. He was residing at Norfolk, Virginia, when the frenzy of secession seized the Old Dominion. “On the morning," writes his son," when it was announced that Virginia had passed the ordinance of secession (April 18th), Farragut went as usual to the rendezvous previously mentioned, and was soon aware by the reserved manner and long faces of those about him that affairs had reached a climax. He expressed himself freely as not satisfied with the action of the Convention, and believing that President Lincoln was fully justified in calling for troops after the seizure of the forts and arsenals. He was impatiently informed that a person of his sentiments
could not live in Norfolk, to which he calmly replied, 'Well, then, I can live somewhere else.' Returning home immediately, with the feeling that the time for prompt action had arrived, he announced to his wife his intention of 'sticking to the flag,' and said to her, 'This act of mine may
cause years of separation from your family; so Loyall you must decide quickly whether you
will or remain here.' It is needless to say that her
decision was as prompt as his own, to go with her Farragut,"
He left the city by the evening steamer with his family, arriving in Baltimore the next day just after the mob had assaulted the Sixth Massachusetts. Railroad connection with the North was already broken, but he was lucky enough to secure passage to Philadelphia on a canal-boat, whence he proceeded to New York and domiciled his family in a
quiet village on the Hudson. The Government CHAP. XV. placed him at very necessary and useful but not prominent service; and for nine months, during all the first heat and tumult of the rebellion, he remained comparatively unnoticed. But he lost nothing by biding his time; the department had not overlooked him, and it now entrusted him with a task, the successful performance of which within three months brought him immediate and worldwide renown. About a month after Porter went to New York to prepare his mortar flotilla, Captain Farragut was called to Washington and confidentially informed of the duty he was expected to undertake. In return, Mr. Welles "he unqualified approval of the original plan, adopted it with enthusiasm, said it was the true way to get to New Orleans, and offered to run by the forts with even a less number of vessels than we were preparing for him, provided that number could not be supplied. While he would not have advised the mortar flotilla, it might be of greater benefit than he anticipated, might be more efficient than he expected, and he willingly adopted it as a part of his command, though he apprehended it would be likely to warn the enemy of our intentions. He expected, however, to pass the forts and restore New Orleans to the Government, or never return. He might not come back, he said, but the Galas..."
Nov., 1871, city would be ours.” Something of this spirit and confidence appear in the brief note to his family, under date of December 21, 1861, announcing his great opportunity: “Keep your lips closed and burn my letters; for perfect silence is to be observed the first injunction of the Secretary. I am to have