Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

Battle For New Orleans

Was the lower part of the Mississippi different from what we know today?

Thanks to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Americans are more familiar with the lowness of the land and the possibility of high water striking the area south of New Orleans. The land was higher in those days (the Mississippi deposits millions of tons of cubic feet of sediment into the Gulf each year), but the hazards of navigation were quite severe. The Union vessels had to climb over the various bars that blocked the mouth(s) of the Mississippi, then carefully thread their way upstream against a current of five knots. Here, if anywhere, is where the Confederates should have based their defense, but they had yielded the lowest part of the river several months earlier.

Moving upstream, Farragut came within striking distance of the Confederate forts. Now was the time for David Dixon Porter and the mortar gunboats. Employing camouflage as well as hiding under sections of trees, the mortar boats commenced a twenty-four-hour-a-day bombardment from the west side of the river. They directed their stronger fire at Fort Jackson, also on the right, or west, bank.


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