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Chapter 4

Captain Raymond paused, seemingly lost in thought. All waited in silence for a moment, then Violet, laying a hand on his arm, for she was seated close at his side, said with a loving smile into his eyes:

"My dear, I fear we have been tiring you."

"Oh no, not at all!" he replied, coming out of his revery and taking possession of the pretty hand with a quiet air of ownership.

"I am sure nobody else is," said Walter; "so please go on, sir, won't you? and tell us all about the taking of the forts and the city."

"I will," replied the captain. "By the way, I want to tell you about a powder boy on board of the Varuna, Oscar Peck, a lad of only thirteen years, who showed coolness and bravery which would have entitled a man to praise.

"Captain Boggs was very much pleased with him, and in his report to Farragut praised him warmly. He said that seeing the lad pass quickly he asked where he was going in such a hurry. 'To get a passing box, sir,' replied the lad; 'the other was smashed by a ball.' When the Varuna went down Oscar disappeared. He had been standing by one of the guns and was thrown into the water by the movement of the vessel. But in a few minutes he was seen swimming toward the wreck. Captain Boggs was standing on a part of the ship that was still above water, when the lad climbed up by his side, gave the usual salute, and said, 'All right, sir, I report myself on board.'"

"Ah," cried Walter exultantly, "he was a plucky American boy! I'm proud of him."

"Yes," said the captain, "and the more men and boys we have of a similar spirit the better for our dear land.

"But to go on with my story. Captain Bailey moved on up the river with his crippled vessel, the Cayuga, leaving the Varuna to continue the fight at the forts.

"A short distance above Fort St. Philip was the Quarantine Station. Opposite to it was a Confederate battery in charge of several companies of sharp-shooters, commanded by Colonel Szymanski, a Pole.

"On perceiving the approach of the Cayuga, they tried to flee, but a volley of canister-shot from her guns called a halt, and they were taken prisoners of war.

"By that time the battle at the forts was over and the remaining twelve ships presently joined the Cayuga. Then the dead were carried ashore and buried."

"And where was Butler all this time, sir?" queried Walter.

"He had been busy preparing for his part of the work while the naval officers were doing theirs," was the reply. "His men were in the transports at the passes and could hear distinctly the booming of the guns and mortars, but the general was at that time on the Saxon, which was following close in the rear of Bailey's division, until the plunging of shot and shell into the water around her warned Butler that he had gone far enough. He then ordered the Saxon to drop a little astern, an order which was by no means disagreeable to her captain and was promptly obeyed, for he had on board eight hundred barrels of gunpowder; a dangerous cargo, indeed, when exposed to the fiery missiles of the enemy."

"Wasn't it?" exclaimed Rosie.

"Where was Porter just then, sir?" asked Walter.

"He and his mortar fleet were still below the forts," replied the captain, "and just as Butler had ordered his vessel away from that dangerous spot, the rebel monitor Manassas came moving down into the midst of his fleet. She had just been terribly pounded by the Mississippi and was a helpless wreck, but that was not perceived at first, and some of the mortars opened fire upon her, but stopped when they saw what was her condition: her hull battered and pierced, her pipes twisted and riddled by shot, smoke pouring from every opening. In a few minutes her only gun went off, flames burst out from stern, trap-door, and bow port, and she went hissing to the bottom of the river.

"Butler now hurried to his transports and took them to Sable Island, twelve miles in the rear of Fort St. Philip. From there they went in small boats, through the narrow and shallow bayous, piloted by Lieutenant Weitzel. It was a most fatiguing journey, the men sometimes having to drag their boats through cold, muddy water waist deep. But the brave, patriotic fellows worked on with a will, and by the night of the 27th they were at the Quarantine, ready to begin the assault on Fort St. Philip the next day, when they were landed under cover of the guns of the Mississippi and the Kineo. Butler sent a small force to the other side of the river above Fort Jackson, which Porter had been pounding terribly with the shells from his mortars. On the 26th, Porter sent a flag of truce with a demand for the surrender of the fort, saying that Farragut had reached New Orleans and taken possession.

"Colonel Higginson, the commander of the fort, replied that he had no official report of that surrender, and that until he should receive such he would not surrender the fort; he could not entertain such a proposition for a moment.

"On the same day, General Duncan, commander of the coast defences, but at that time in Fort Jackson, sent out an address to the soldiers, saying, 'The safety of New Orleans and the cause of the Southern Confederacy, our homes, families, and everything dear to man yet depend upon our exertions. We are just as capable of repelling the enemy to-day as we were before the bombardment.'

"Thus he urged them to fight on. But they did not all agree with the views he expressed. They could see the blackened fragments of vessels and other property strewing the waters of the river as it flowed swiftly by, and the sight convinced them of the truth of the report which had reached them of the fall of New Orleans. They had heard, too, of the arrival of Butler's troops in the rear of Fort St. Philip.

"Doubtless they talked it all over among themselves that night, as a large number of them mutinied, spiked the guns bearing up the river, and the next day went out and surrendered themselves to Butler's pickets on that side of the river, saying they had been impressed, and would not fight the government any longer. Their loss made the surrender of the fort a necessity, and Colonel Higginson accepted the generous terms offered him by Porter. He and Duncan went on board the Harriet Lane and the terms of surrender were reduced to writing.

"While that was going on in her cabin, a dastardly deed was done by the Confederate officer Mitchell, who, as I have said, commanded the battery called the Louisiana. It lay above the forts. He had it towed out into the strong current, set on fire and abandoned, leaving the guns all shotted, expecting she would float down and explode among Porter's mortar fleet; but a good Providence caused the explosion to come before she reached the fleet. It took place when she was abreast of Fort St. Philip, and a soldier, one of its garrison, was killed by a flying fragment. Then she went to the bottom, and the rest of the Confederate steamers surrendered.

"Porter and his mortar fleet were still below the forts, but Farragut had now thirteen of his vessels safely above them and was ready to move upon New Orleans.

"Half an hour after he reached the Quarantine, he sent Captain Boggs to Butler with despatches. Boggs went in a small boat through shallow bayous in the rear of Fort St. Philip, and, as I have already said, the next day Butler and his troops arrived at the Quarantine in readiness to assault the forts.

"Fort St. Philip was as perfect when taken by the Union forces as before the fight, and Fort Jackson was injured only in its interior works.

"The entire loss of the Nationals in all this fighting was 40 killed and 177 wounded. No reliable report was given of the Confederate losses in killed and wounded. The number of prisoners amounted to nearly one thousand.

"General Lovell, who had command of the Confederate troops at New Orleans, had gone down the river in his steamer Doubloon, and arrived just as the National fleet was passing the forts. He was near being captured in the terrible fight that followed, but escaped to the shore and hurried back to New Orleans as fast as courier horses could carry him.

"A rumor of the fight and its results had already reached the city, and when he confirmed it a scene of wild excitement ensued; soldiers hurried to and fro, women were in the street bareheaded, brandishing pistols, and screaming, 'Burn the city! Never mind us! Burn the city!'

"Merchants fled from their stores, and military officers impressed vehicles to carry cotton to the levees to be burned. Four millions of dollars in specie was sent out of the city by railway; foreigners crowded to the consulates to deposit money and other valuables for safety, and Twiggs, the traitor, fled, leaving to the care of a young woman the two swords that had been awarded him for his services in Mexico.

"Lovell believed that he had not a sufficient number of troops to defend the city, and convinced the city authorities that such was the fact. Then he proceeded to disband the conscripts and to send munitions of war, stores of provisions, and other valuable property to the country by railroad and steamboats. Some of the white troops went to Camp Moore, seventy-eight miles distant, by the railroad, but the negro soldiers refused to go.

"The next morning Farragut came on up the river, meeting on the way blazing ships filled with cotton floating down the stream. Then presently he discovered the Chalmette batteries on both sides of the river only a few miles below the city. The river was so full that the waters gave him complete command of those confederate works, and, causing his vessels to move in two lines, he set himself to the task of disabling them.

"Captain Bailey in the Cayuga was pressing gallantly forward and did not notice the signal to the vessels to move in close order. He was so far ahead of the others that the fire of the enemy was for a time concentrated upon his vessel; for twenty minutes she sustained a heavy cross fire alone. But Farragut hastened forward with the Hartford, and, as he passed the Cayuga, he gave the batteries heavy broadsides of grape, shell and shrapnel; so heavy were they that the first discharge drove the Confederates from their guns. The other vessels of the fleet followed the Hartford's example, and in twenty minutes the batteries were silenced and the men running for their lives.

"Oh, what a fearful scene our vessels passed through! The surface of the river was strewn with blazing cotton bales, burning steamers and fire-rafts, all together sending up clouds of dense black smoke. But they were nearing the city, these National vessels, and the news that such was the case had caused another great panic, and, by order of the Governor of Louisiana and General Lovell, the destruction of property went on more rapidly than before. Great quantities of cotton, sugar, and other staple commodities of that region of country, were set on fire, so that for a distance of five miles there seemed to be a continuous sheet of flame accompanied by dense clouds of smoke; for the people, foolishly believed that the Government, like themselves, regarded cotton as king, and that it was one of the chief objects for which the National troops were sent there. So they brought it in huge loads to the levee, piled it up there, and burnt not less than fifteen hundred bales, worth about $1,500,000. For the same reason they burned more than a dozen large ships, some of which were loaded with cotton, as well as many magnificent steamboats, unfinished gun-boats, and other vessels, sending them down the river wrapped in flames; hoping that in addition to destroying the property the Federals were after, they might succeed in setting fire to and destroying their ships and boats.

"But the vessels of Farragut's squadron all escaped that danger, and in the afternoon, during a fierce thunderstorm, they anchored before the city.

"Captain Bailey was sent ashore with a flag and a summons from Farragut for the surrender of the city; also a demand that the Confederate flag should be taken down from the public buildings and replaced by the stars and stripes.

"Escorted by sensible citizens he made his way to the City Hall, through a cursing and hissing crowd. Lovell, who was still there, positively refused to surrender, but seeing that he was powerless to defend the city he said so and, advising the mayor not to surrender or allow the flags to be taken down, he withdrew with his troops.

"The mayor was foolish enough to follow that very foolish advice, and sent to Farragut a silly letter saying that though he and his people could not prevent the occupation of their city by the United States, they would not transfer their allegiance to that government, which they had already deliberately repudiated.

"While this was going on troops from the Pensacola had landed and hoisted the United States flag over the Government Mint; but scarcely had they retired from the spot when the flag was torn down by some young men and dragged through the streets in derision."

"Our flag! the glorious stripes and stars!" exclaimed Lulu, her eyes flashing; "I hope they didn't escape punishment for such an outrage as that?"

"One of them, a gambler, William B. Mumford by name, afterward paid the penalty for that and other crimes, on the scaffold," replied her father. "A few hours after the pulling down of that flag, General Butler arrived and joined Farragut on the Hartford. On the 29th, Butler reported to the Secretary of War, and, referring to the treatment of the flag, said, 'This outrage will be punished in such a manner as in my judgment will caution both the perpetrators and the abettors of the act, so that they shall fear the stripes, if they do not reverence the stars, of our banner.'

"The secessionists expressed much exultation over the treatment of the flag and admiration of the rebellious deed.

"Farragut was very patient with the rebels, particularly the silly mayor; in reply to whose abusive letter he spoke of the insults and indignities to the flag and to his officers, adding, 'All of which go to show that the fire of this fleet may be drawn upon the city at any moment, and in such an event the levee would, in all probability, be cut by the shells and an amount of distress ensue to the innocent population which I have heretofore endeavored to assure you that I desire by all means to avoid. The election therefore is with you; but it becomes me to notify you to remove the women and children, from the city within forty-eight hours, if I have rightly understood your determination.'

"To this the foolish mayor sent a most absurd reply, saying that Farragut wanted to humble and disgrace the people, and talking nonsense about 'murdering women and children.' It was a decidedly insolent epistle; but the commander of a French ship of war, that had just come in, was still more impertinent. He wrote to Farragut that his government had sent him to protect the 30,000 of its subjects in New Orleans. And that he should demand sixty days, instead of forty-eight hours as the time to be given for the evacuation of the city, his letter closed with a threat: 'If it is your resolution to bombard the city, do it; but I wish to state that you will have to account for the barbarous act to the power which I represent.'

"Farragut was much perplexed, and troubled with doubts as to what to do, but was soon greatly relieved by the news of the surrender of the forts below, making it almost certain that Butler would soon be there to relieve him of the care of the city, and with that in prospect he was able to quietly await the arrival of the land forces.

"The people of New Orleans believed it impossible that those forts could be taken, and deemed it safe to indulge in their defiant attitude toward the Federal forces already at their doors; but this unwelcome news convinced them of the folly and danger of further resistance and defiance of the General Government, and a sort of apology was made to Farragut for the pulling down of the flag from the Mint; it was said to have been the unauthorized act of the men who performed it.

"The next day Captain Bell landed with a hundred marines, hauled down the emblems of rebellion on the Mint and Custom House, flung to the breeze the National flag in their places, then locking the Custom House door, carried the key to his vessel.

"There was a military organization in New Orleans, called the European Brigade, composed of British, French, and Spanish aliens, whose ostensible purpose was to aid the authorities in protecting the citizens from unruly members; but now finding their occupation almost at an end, its English members voted at their armory that, as they would have no further use for their weapons and accoutrements, they should be sent to Beauregard's army at Corinth, as 'a slight token of their affection for the Confederate States.'"

"I should say that was but a poor sort of neutrality," remarked Rosie.

"So I think," responded the captain; then went on with his story.

"Only a few hours after Mumford and his mates had pulled down the flag, Butler arrived, joined Farragut on the Hartford, and presently made to the Secretary of War the report of which I have already spoken.

"He hurried back to his troops and made arrangements for their immediate advance up the river. On the first of May he appeared before New Orleans with his transports bearing two thousand men; the general with his wife, his staff, and one thousand four hundred troops, was on the Mississippi, the vessel in which he had sailed from Hampton Roads sixty-five days before.

"At four o'clock on the afternoon of that day the troops began to land: first, a company of the Thirty-first Massachusetts, presently followed by the rest of the regiment, the Fourth Wisconsin, and Everett's battery of heavy field guns.

"They formed in procession, acting as an escort to General Butler and General Williams and his staff, and marched through several streets to the Custom House, their band playing the 'Star-Spangled Banner.' They had been given strict directions not to resent any insults that might be offered by the vast crowd gathered in the streets, unless ordered so to do; if a shot should be fired from any house, they were to halt, arrest the inmates, and destroy the building.

"Their patience was greatly tried during that short march, the crowd constantly growing greater and more boisterous and pouring out upon them volleys of abusive epithets, both vulgar and profane, applying them to the general as well as his troops."

"I think anybody but an American would have ordered his soldiers to fire upon them for that," remarked Walter. "Did they do no fighting at all at the time, sir?"

"No," replied the captain; "they were obedient to the orders of their superior officers and brave enough to endure the undeserved abuse in silence.

"At length their destination was reached, Captain Everett posted his cannon around the Custom House, quarters there were given to the Massachusetts regiment, and the city was comparatively quiet through the night.

"General Butler passed the night on board the Mississippi, and at an early hour in the evening sent out a proclamation to the citizens of New Orleans. It was first sent to the office of the True Delta to be printed; but the proprietor flatly refused to use his types in such an act of submission to Federal rule."

"I hope he wasn't allowed to do as he pleased about it?" growled Walter.

"I think hardly," returned the captain with an amused smile. "Some two hours later a file of soldiers were in his office, half a dozen of whom were printers, and in a very short time the proclamation was sent out in printed form.

"Meanwhile the Federal officers had taken possession of their city quarters. General Butler was at the St. Charles Hotel, and invited the city authorities to a conference with him there. That very foolish mayor, Monroe, told the messenger sent to him that his place of business was at the City Hall. He was answered by a suggestion that such a reply was not likely to prove satisfying to the commanding general, and then prudently decided to go and wait on General Butler at the St. Charles.

"Some of his friends accompanied him; among them Pierre Soulé, who had been a representative to Congress before the war.

"General Butler and these callers had a talk together in regard to the proper relations existing between the General Government and the city of New Orleans, Butler maintaining that the authority of the Government of the United States was and ought to be supreme; it had a right to demand the allegiance of the people, and that no other authority could be allowed to conflict with it in ruling the city.

"The mayor, Soulé, and his friends, on the contrary, insisted that Louisiana was an independent sovereignty and that to her alone the people owed their allegiance. They asserted that the National troops were invaders, the people doing right in treating them with contempt and abhorrence, and that they would be fully justified in driving them away if it were in their power to do so.

"While this hot discussion was going on, a messenger came from General Williams, who had command of the regiment protecting headquarters, saying that he feared he could not control the mob which had collected in the street.

"Butler calmly replied: 'Give my compliments to General Williams, and tell him if he finds he cannot control the mob, to open upon them with artillery.'

"At that the mayor and his friends sprang to their feet, exclaiming excitedly, 'Don't do that, General.' Butler asked, 'Why not?' and went on, 'The mob must be controlled. We can't have a disturbance in the street.'

"At that the mayor stepped out upon the balcony and spoke to the mob, telling them of the general's orders and advising them to disperse.

"At that interview General Butler read to his callers the proclamation he was about to issue. Soulé told him it would give great offence, and that the people would never submit to its demands; for they were not conquered and could not be expected to act as a conquered people would. 'Withdraw your troops and leave the city government to manage its own affairs,' he said. 'If the troops remain there will certainly be trouble.'"

"And Butler, of course, did as he was told," laughed Rosie.

"Not exactly," returned the captain. "'I did not expect to hear from Mr. Soulé a threat on this occasion,' he said. 'I have long been accustomed to hear threats from Southern gentlemen in political conventions, but let me assure the gentlemen present that the time for tactics of that nature has passed, never to return. New Orleans is a conquered city. If not, why are we here? How did we get here? Have you opened your arms and bid us welcome? Are we here by your consent? Would you, or would you not, expel us if you could? New Orleans has been conquered by the forces of the United States, and by the laws of all nations lies subject to the will of the conquerors.'"

"Some of the New Orleans people, especially the women, behaved very badly, did they not, captain?" asked Evelyn.

"Yes; though no man was injured by the troops, who behaved in a perfectly orderly manner; no woman was treated with the slightest disrespect, though the women were very offensive in their manifestations of contempt of the officers, not omitting even the commanding officer himself. They would leave street cars and church pews when a Federal officer entered them; the sidewalks also, going round the gentlemen, turning up their noses and sometimes uttering abusive words; they wore secession colors in their bonnets, sang rebel songs, and turned their backs on passing soldiers, when out on their balconies, and played airs that were used with rebel words; indeed they tried to show in every possible way their contempt and aversion for the Union officers and soldiers. At length a woman of the 'dominant class,' meeting two Union officers on the street, spit in their faces. Then General Butler decided to at once put a stop to such proceedings, and on the 5th of May he issued order No. 28, which had the desired effect."

"What was it, papa? What did he order the people, or the soldiers, to do?" queried Lulu.

"The amount of the order was that every woman who should behave as that one had, insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, should be regarded and held liable to be treated as not of good moral character. The mayor made it the subject of another impudent and absurd letter to General Butler, for which he was arrested, but he was soon released again upon making a humble apology."

"Did they let him be mayor again, papa?" asked Grace.

"No; instead General G. F. Sheply of Maine, was appointed Military Governor of New Orleans, and made an excellent one, having the city made cleaner, and in consequence more wholesome, than it had been for years, if ever before. Soon after that William B. Mumford was arrested, tried by a military court for treason in having torn down the flag, found guilty, and hanged."




Martha Finley

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