New Orleans Surrenders

Today in History, April 29, 1862:

The surrender of New Orleans.

The Confederacy was determined to protect the jewel of the South, it’s largest port and therefore source of supply from abroad.

They were convinced the attack would come from the north, and placed the bulk of their army forces and naval forces in Tennessee and Mississippi. This left New Orleans to be defended by about 3,000 militia and two forts below her on the River, Ft. Jackson and Ft. St. Phillip.

Union Flag Officer David Farragut took his force of Union ships and tried to silence the forts, and failing that decided to run past the batteries in a fierce battle. By the 28th his fleet lay off the city on the Mississippi.

If you’ve ever been to the French Quarter and watched ships move by ABOVE you on the river, you’ll understand why the Confederate commander there told the mayor the battle was already lost and withdrew his forces.

The next day, the 29th, Farragut’s childhood home surrendered to him. David Farragut was adopted by Capt. David Porter after his mother died, and began his naval career at age 9. He would become the first Rear Admiral, the first Vice Admiral, and the first Admiral in the US Navy. His adoptive brothers, David Dixon Porter and William Porter would also be naval heroes that attained flag rank.

The capture of New Orleans by Union forces helped cut off the Confederacy from outside supply, and from their territories in the west.

Confederate Big Easy Defenseless

Today in History, April 25, 1862:

Have you ever walked along the levee in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana? If you have, it’s difficult not to be awed when you look UP at the top of the levee and see a ship floating across the water…well above you.

The view makes it very obvious how incredibly vulnerable the city is to the Mighty Mississippi and the massive ships sailing her channel.

On this date in 1862 Union Admiral David Farragut had already led his fleet of US Navy ships past Ft. Jackson and Ft. St. Phillips below the Crescent City, he and his crews blew past nascent the Confederate “Navy” and placed their heavy guns off of New Orleans.

The New Orleans military, government and citizens were told…it was obvious…if they didn’t surrender, the US Navy would fire DOWN into the wooden structures of the Quarter….they may, if necessary, blast a hole in the levee and simply let nature flood out the defenders.

Confederate General Mansfield Lovell told Major Moore what would happen if resisted. So they stalled while Lovell shipped his troops and equipment north by rail to Vicksburg.

Finally on April 29 the residents folded. By May 2 the Confederates relinquished the largest, most industrial, cosmopolitan city in the Confederacy. Remember the rivers were the thoroughfares in the 1800’s.

The Union now had control of NOLA’S resources, and now the Union could ship supplies north from the Gulf as far as Vicksburg and north to south.

The War had seen a major change. And the citizens of New Orleans would find peace with General Butler worse than war with Farragut. But thats a different story.

Surrender at New Orleans

Today in History, April 29: 1862 – The surrender of New Orleans. The Confederacy was determined to protect the jewel of the South, it’s largest port and therefore source of supply from abroad. They were convinced the attack would come from the north, and placed the bulk of their army forces and naval forces in Tennessee and Mississippi. This left New Orleans to be defended by about 3,000 militia and two forts below her on the River, Ft. Jackson and Ft. St. Phillip. Union Flag Officer David Farragut took his force of Union ships and tried to silence the forts, and failing that decided to run past the batteries in a fierce battle. By the 28th his fleet lay off the city on the Mississippi. If you’ve ever been to the French Quarter and watched ships move by ABOVE you on the river, you’ll understand why the Confederate commander there told the mayor the battle was already lost and withdrew his forces. The next day, the 29th, Farragut’s childhood home surrendered to him. David Farragut was adopted by Capt. David Porter after his mother died, and began his naval career at age 9. He would become the first Rear Admiral, the first Vice Admiral, and the first Admiral in the US Navy. His adoptive brothers, David Dixon Porter and William Porter would also be naval heroes that attained flag rank. The capture of New Orleans by Union forces helped cut off the Confederacy from outside supply, and from their territories in the west.

Coincidentally, on this same date in 1629, 17-year-old Joan of Arc led a force that liberated Orleans, France from the English. 

Disaster in New Orleans…No, Not That One…

Today in History, March 21: 1788 – Have you ever visited the French Quarter in New Orleans? Did you know that the vast majority of those buildings in the “French” Quarter are actually…Spanish? On this date in 1788 the Army Treasurer in New Orleans, Don Vincente Jose Nunez, and his family were celebrating Good Friday in their home less than a block from the Plaza de Armas (later Jackson Square). They apparently lit a few too many candles while immersed in prayer and caught their home on fire. Before the day was over, 856 of the 1,100 buildings in the city were destroyed, most of the city. Spain had control of Louisiana at that time, and during a subsequent fire in 1794 that took 212 buildings. So the structures that replaced those of wood that were lost were made of stucco or brick, and of Spanish architecture.

Louisiana Governor Miro’s report: If the imagination could describe what our senses enable us to feel from sight and touch, reason itself would recoil in horror, and it is no easy matter to say whether the sight of an entire city in flames was more horrible to behold than the suffering and pitiable condition in which everyone was involved. Mothers, in search of a sanctuary or refuge for their little ones, and abandoning – their earthly goods to the greed of the relentless enemy, would retire to out-of-the-way places rather than be witnesses of their utter ruin. Fathers and husbands were busy in saving whatever objects the rapidly spreading flames would permit them to bear off, while the general bewilderment was such as to prevent them from finding even for these a place of security. The obscurity of the night coming on threw its mantle for a while over the saddening spectacle; but more horrible still was the sight, when day began to dawn, of entire families pouring forth into the public highways, yielding to their lamentations and despair, who, but a few hours before, had been basking in the enjoyment of more than the ordinary comforts of life. The tears, the heartbreaking sobs and the pallid faces of the wretched people mirrored the dire fatality that had overcome a city, now in ruins, transformed within the space of five hours into an arid and fearful, desert. Such was the sad ending of a work of death, the result of seventy years of industry.

For some chronological relation, further east on our continent the nascent 13 nascent states spent the years of 1788 approving the US Constitution; two weeks after the disastrous fire, pioneering Americans established Marietta (later Ohio) as the first American settlement beyond the borders of “America.”