On April 24, 1862, Federal gunboats made their way past two Confederate forts to ascend the Mississippi River, and the Union navy captured New Orleans. News of the loss of the Crescent City came to Jefferson Davis as an absolute shock. In this exhaustive study, Chester G. Hearn examines the decisions, actions, individuals, and events to explain why. He directs his inquiry to the heart of government, both Union and Confederate, and takes a hard look at the selection of military and naval leaders, the use of natural and financial resources, and the performances of all personnel involved. His vivid, fast-paced narrative provides fascinating reading, as well as penetrating insight into this crucial campaign.