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Thirty miles from the mouth of the Mississippi were the powerful
Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on opposite sides of the river. They
mounted 100 heavy guns, and six powerful chains were stretched across,
supported by an immense raft of cypress logs. Thus the river was closed
and no fleet could approach New Orleans until these obstructions were
removed or overcome. When this should be done, it was still seventy-five
miles to New Orleans.

Above the boom of hulks and logs was a fleet of fifteen Confederate
vessels, including the ironclad ram _Manassas_, and a partly completed
floating battery armored with railroad iron, and known as the
_Louisiana_. It has been stated that the ironclads of those days were
only partly protected by armor.

The naval and military expedition which sailed for New Orleans in the
spring of 1862 consisted of six sloops of war, sixteen gunboats, five
other vessels, and twenty-one mortar-schooners, the last being under
charge of Captain David D. Porter, while Commodore David G. Farragut had
command of the fleet. The troops, mostly from New England, were
commanded by General B.F. Butler.

Farragut crossed the bar, April 8th, and spent several days in making
his preparations for bombarding Forts Jackson and St. Philip. The
bombardment began April 27th, 1,400 shells being thrown in one day.
Farragut then called his captains together and told them he had resolved
to run by the forts. The only question, therefore, was as to the best
means of doing it. It was decided to make the attempt at night. The
darkness, however, was of little benefit, since the enemy's huge
bonfires on both shores lit up the river as if it were noonday. Previous
to this, Lieutenant C.H.B. Caldwell, in the gunboat _Itasca_, had
ascended the river undiscovered in the darkness and opened a way through
the boom for the fleet.

Farragut arranged the fleet in two columns, his own firing upon Fort
Jackson, while the other poured its broadsides into Fort St. Philip. The
flagship _Hartford_ led the way under cover of Porter's mortar-boats and
the others followed. There was a furious fight between the fleets, but
every Confederate was either captured or destroyed.

Farragut steamed on to the city, silencing the batteries along the
banks, and, at noon, a messenger was sent ashore with a demand for the
surrender of the city. General Lovell was in command of 3,000 troops,
intended for the defense of New Orleans, but he fled. The mayor refusing
to haul down the secession flag, the Union troops took possession,
raised the Union banner over the mint, and placed the city in charge of
General Butler. The citizens were in such a savage mood that Commodore
Farragut had to bring them to their senses by a threat to bombard the

General Butler ruled with great strictness, and virtually held New
Orleans under martial law. A Confederate won the applause of his friends
by climbing to the top of the mint, hauling down the flag, dragging it
through the mud, and then tearing it to shreds. Butler brought him to
trial before a military commission, and, being found guilty of the
unpardonable insult to the flag, he was hanged.

The fall of New Orleans, one of the leading cities, was a severe blow to
the Confederacy. The only points where the Mississippi was strongly held
by the enemy were at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and attention was
already turned to them. Farragut having completed his work, for the time
took command in the Gulf of Mexico.

[Illustration: LIBBY PRISON IN 1865.]

The most momentous events of the year occurred in the east and marked
the struggle between the Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of
Northern Virginia, as it came to be called.


McClellan continued to drill and train his army through the fall of
1861, and well into the following year. It numbered nearly 200,000 men
and was one of the finest organizations in the world. In reply to the
expressions of impatience, the commander invariably replied that a
forward movement would soon be begun, but the weeks and months passed
and the drilling went on, and nothing was done. Finally, the government
gave the commander to understand that he must advance.

McClellan's plan was to move against Richmond, from the lower part of
Chesapeake Bay, by way of Urbana on the Rappahannock. While this had
many advantages, its fatal objection in the eyes of the President was
that it would leave Washington unprotected. He issued an order on the
27th of January directing that on the 22d of February there should be a
general land and naval movement against the enemy's position on the
Potomac, and that, after providing for the defense of Washington, a
force should seize and occupy a point upon the railway to the southwest
of Manassas Junction. McClellan was offended by the act of the President
and protested, but Mr. Lincoln clung in the main to his plan, and, since
the delay continued, he issued orders directing the formation of the
army into corps and naming the generals to command them. Another order
made arrangements for the intended advance, and it was left to McClellan
to carry them out.


Reliable information reached Washington that General Joseph E. Johnston,
commander of the Confederate forces at Manassas, was engaged in
withdrawing his lines with a view of taking a stronger position nearer
Richmond. General McClellan began a forward movement with the Army of
the Potomac on the 10th of March. The truth was that Confederate spies
in Washington had apprised Johnston of the intended advance of McClellan
from the lower Chesapeake, and his action was with a view of checkmating
the Union commander. Instead of carrying out this plan, McClellan
marched to Centreville and occupied the vacated intrenchments of the
enemy. The general hope was that Johnston would be forced to give
battle, but the roads in Virginia, at that season, were one sea of mud,
which made progress so slow that the Confederates had time in which to
withdraw at their leisure.

Crossing the Potomac into Virginia, with the main army, McClellan made
his first headquarters at Fairfax Court-House. About that time he
received news that he was relieved of the command of the other
departments, his authority being confined to the direction of the Army
of the Potomac. He was directed by the President to garrison Manassas
securely, see that Washington was protected, and, with the rest of his
force, assume a new base at Fort Monroe, or "anywhere between here and
there," and, above all things, to pursue the enemy "by _some_ route."

McClellan's four corps commanders were Sumner, McDowell, Heintzelman,
and Keyes, and they and he agreed upon a plan of campaign. The
difficulties of transporting nearly 100,000 men to Fort Monroe were so
great that two weeks were occupied in completing the transfer. In order
to prevent the Confederates from getting in his rear, McClellan directed
Banks to rebuild the railroad from Washington to Manassas and Strasburg,
thus keeping open communication with the Shenandoah Valley, where the
enemy were in force, a fact which caused the government much uneasiness
for the national capital. Indeed, it was a part of the effective plan of
Johnston to embarrass the campaign against Richmond.

Banks occupied Winchester about the middle of March and sent a force
under Shields to Strasburg. He found Stonewall Jackson there with such a
strong force that he fell back to Winchester, where, after the
withdrawal of the main body by Banks, he was attacked by Jackson, who
was repulsed.

In pursuance of the new plan of campaign, McClellan made Fort Monroe his
first base of operations, using the route through Yorktown and West
Point for the advance to Richmond. He expected to fight a great battle
on the way thither, for the enemy could not fail to read the meaning of
his movements. McClellan reasoned that this battle would take place
between West Point and Richmond, and his intention was to advance
without delay to the former position and use it as his chief depot for
supplies. His plan was to make a combined naval and military attack on
Yorktown, send a strong force up the York River, aided by the gunboats,
and thus establish his new base of operations within twenty-five miles
of the Confederate capital.

It was not long before he began calling for reinforcements, and the
government, instead of aiding him, took away piecemeal many of the
troops upon which the commander had counted to aid him in his campaign.
He wanted 150,000 men and a large increase of cannon. The 10,000 men,
composing Blenker's division, were detached, as the President informed
him, to support Fremont, but Mr. Lincoln promised to withdraw no more
from the main army.

McClellan remained at his headquarters near Alexandria until most of his
forces were well on the road to the Yorktown peninsula. He left on the
1st of April and the troops were landed three days later. Then a force
of 56,000 men with 100 guns started for Yorktown.

But for the inherent timidity and distrust of McClellan, he might have
captured Richmond, by marching straight ahead to the city, for the
Confederate force opposed to him was but a fragment of his own, and
could have been trampled underfoot. The Confederate intrenchments were a
dozen miles in length, and were defended by Magruder with a force that
allowed less than a thousand men for each mile.

Instead of pushing on, McClellan began a regular siege of Yorktown.
Immense siege guns were dragged through the muddy swamps, and the musket
was laid aside for the spade and shovel, which the men applied week
after week, until worn out and with thousands prostrated by sickness.
The delay, as a matter of course, was improved by the Confederates in
strengthening the defenses of their capital. At the end of a month, the
Union army advanced, whereupon Magruder fell back to other
fortifications nearer Richmond. The whole month had been worse than
thrown away by McClellan, for it had given the enemy all the time they
needed to complete their defenses.

The Confederate army was increased, and reinforcements were sent to
McClellan, whose forces were fully 20,000 in excess of those under
Johnston, but the Union leader magnified the strength of the enemy and
continued to call for more troops.

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