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The Capture of New Orleans, 1862

Chester G. Hearn

Publication Year: 1995

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.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

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pp. 1-6

To understand how New Orleans, the South's largest and greatest city, could be lost to the Union navy as early in the Civil War as it was involves much more than knowing about the passage of two fortifications by Flag Officer David Glasgow Farragut's fleet on...

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ONE: The Union Is Dead

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pp. 7-17

On November 6,1860, the wharves of New Orleans bulged with the commerce of the great muddy river. Vessels from the seven seas waited by the docks, loading and unloading, and huge piles of merchandise lay heaped along the levee: kegs, boxes, and crates of beef, pork, bacon, butter, and cheese; bundles of hemp,...

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TWO: Notions of War

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pp. 18-31

On January 29, when the regular jejjion of the jtate legislature met at Baton Rouge, the convention delegates moved to New Orleans and set up shop in City Hall. Six were chosen to attend a meeting at Montgomery, Alabama, on February A, where representatives...

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THREE: Mr. Lincoln's "Impudent" Blockade

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pp. 32-66

On April 17,1861, the day following President Davis' call for thirty-two thousand infantry, the Confederate president issued a proclamation "inviting all those who may desire, by service in private armed vessels on the high seas, to aid this Government...

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FOUR: Emergence of the Mosquito Fleet

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pp. 67-80

With four Union warships guarding the padded, Confederate privateering came to a standstill on the lower Mississippi. New Orleans businessmen who had invested large sums of money to convert steamships into privateers began looking for ways to...

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FIVE: The Night of the Turtle

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pp. 81-95

While New Orleans shipyards bulged with construction work, Gideon Welles, in the Washington Naval Office, read with some disdain the dismal reports of Flag Officer William Mervine, commander of the Gulf Blockading Squadron. Since the spring of 1861, Welles had given Mervine the benefit of the doubt, but now, six months..

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SIX: Father Neptune Picks a Captain

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pp. 96-106

On the heeld of "Pope's Run, "Lieutenant David D. Porter returned to Southwest Pass on Powhatan on October 25, 1861. He had been on the trail of Sumter and its wily captain, Raphael Semmes, since August 16 and never caught him. Porter was disappointed, because capturing Sumter may have meant a big promotion...

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SEVEN: Mansfield Lovell's Debut

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pp. 107-124

On September 25,1861, ten days before General Twiggs asked to be relieved, the Canfederate War Department issued orders for Brigadier General Mansfield Lovell "to repair to New Orleans" and report to the ancient commander. As Twiggs's subordinate, Lovell was charged with "the coast and other defenses of the department...

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EIGHT: Farragut Steams South

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pp. 125-136

On January 9,1862, Secretary Welled officially appointed Farragut to command the newly formed Western Gulf Blockading Squadron and ordered him to proceed to Philadelphia, where his flagship, the wooden steam sloop of war Hartford, was..

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NINE: New Orleans Shudders

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pp. 137-150

On January 9,1862, Secretary Welled officially appointed Farragut to command the newly formed Western Gulf Blockading Squadron and ordered him to proceed to Philadelphia, where his flagship, the wooden steam sloop of war Hartford, was...

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TEN: Out of the Mud

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pp. 151-172

Farragut felt vulnerable. It was the middle of March, and half his fleet was in the river and the other half still outside the bar. At any hour he expected to hear the guns of Confederate gunboats, led by Manassas or perhaps the two new ironclads about...

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ELEVEN: Twenty-One Bummers, All in a Row

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pp. 173-186

In far-off Richmond, Jefferson Davut and Naval Secretary Mailory met in the predident's office, discussed the latest intelligence from New Orleans, and speculated on the Unions intentions. Lovell had repeatedly told them that Forts Jackson and St. Philip..,

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TWELVE: Recipe for Disaster

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pp. 187-196

On April 18, Good Friday, rumors of Porter's bombardment began to filter upriver to New Orleans, seventy miles away by river and fifty by air, where people crowded into their churches and offered fervent prayers. From the foot of Canal Street they...

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THIRTEEN: Seventeen Mighty Warships, All Ready to Go

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pp. 197-208

On Easter Sunday, April 20, scattered showers carried by a chill northerly wind spit from low clouds into the faces of Porter's bummers. Forty-eight hours had passed since the mortar schooners had opened fire on Fort Jackson, and still the Confederate...

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FOURTEEN: Running the Gauntlet

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pp. 209-236

Shortly after midnight on April 24, activity began to stir aboard the Union fleet. The mates made their rounds with carefully hooded lanterns. Men wiped sleep from their eyes, stowed their hammocks, dressed quickly, and went topside for a ration...

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FIFTEEN: High Noon at City Hall

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pp. 237-248

Major General Lovell was among the spectators witnessing the early stages of the Union fleet passing the forts. On April 23 he had gone down the river in a small steamboat to induce Commander Mitchell to move Louisiana below the barrier, and he...

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SIXTEEN: By Land and By Water

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pp. 249-257

Two hours after the last of Farragut s fleet passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the morning of April 24, an uncommon stillness pervaded the lower Mississippi. The bummers lay on the floor of the bomb boats and slept, the morning sun warm upon their...

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pp. 258-268

The Confederacy's loss of New Orleans was fraught with consequences. Napoleon III, with imperialistic intentions toward Mexico, had sought an opportunity to recognize the Confederacy, and he hoped this might be accomplished jointly with Great Britain...


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pp. 269-275


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pp. 276-282


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pp. 283-292

E-ISBN-13: 9780807140918
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807130704

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 1995