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Battle of New Orleans
Commander Porter's Attack Plans

The following is transcribed from the Confederate Military History, Volume II, Part I p 71.


           The communication from Commander Porter containing his plans of attack, to which I have already alluded, and which was referred to by Commodore Bell, is as follows:

          "When the ships are over the bar, guns mounted, coal-bunkers filled, sick on shore, hospital arrangements made for the wounded, the fleet should move up, mortar-fleet should move up, mortar fleet all in tow; the chain across the river to remain untouched for the present, or until after the mortars get their position and open their fire. It is a good defense on our side against fire-ships and rams which may be sent down the river, and our ships can so command the opening that nothing can pass down. As the mortar-vessels are somewhat helpless, they should be protected at all points by vessels of war, which should be ready at a moment's notice to repel an attack on them by rams, floating torpedoes, or fire-ships; the two latter to be towed out of the way, the rams to be run down by the heavy ships, while such vessels as the Westfield and Clifton attack them end on with cannon, while gun-boats try to force them to the shore. When everything is ready for the assault, a demand for surrender should be made in language least calculated to exasperate, and of such a nature as to encourage those who might be disposed to return to their allegiance. There is evidence of a strong Union feeling in New Orleans, and everything should be done without losing by delay to prevent a counter-feeling."

          "When it is evident that no surrender of the forts will be made, the mortars should open deliberate fire, keeping two shells in the air all the time, or each mortar-vessel should fire once in every ten minutes. Fort Jackson, being casemated, should received the largest share of t he bombardment, three or four vessels being employed against Fort St. Philip, firing as often as they can coolly and conveniently load and point. In the meantime preparations should be made to destroy at a moment's notice the vessels holding up the chain, or the chain itself, which can be done by applying a petard to the bobstays of the vessels or to the chain, all of which petards are prepared, and a man accustomed to the business with a galvanic battery will accompany the expedition."

          "In my opinion there are two methods of attack, - one is for the vessel to run the gauntlet of the batteries by night or in a fog; the other is to attack the forts by laying the big ships close alongside of them, avoiding the casemates, firing shells, grape, and canister into the barbette, clearing the ramparts with boat-guns from the tops, while smaller and more agile vessels throw in shrapnel at shrapnel distance, clearing the parapets, and dismounting the guns in barbette."

          "The larger ships should anchor with forty-five fathoms of chain with slip-ropes; the smaller vessels to keep under way and be constantly moving about, some to get above and open a cross-fire; the mortars to keep up a rapid and continuous fire, and to move up to a short range."

          "The objections to running by the forts are these: It is not likely that any intelligent enemy would fail to place a chain across above the forts, and to raise such batteries as would protect them against our ships."

          "Did we run the forts we should leave an enemy in our rear, and the mortar-vessels would have to be left behind. We could not return to bring them up without going through a heavy and destructive fire. If the forts are run, part of the mortars should be towed along, which would render the progress of the vessels slow against the strong current at the point. If the forts are first captured, the moral effect would be to close the batteries on the river and open the way to New Orleans, whereas, if we don't succeed in taking them, we will have to fight our way up the river. Once having possession of the forts, New Orleans would be hermetically sealed, and we could repair damages and go up on our own terms and our own time."

          "Nature points out the English Turn as the position to be strongly fortified, and it is there the enemy will most likely make his strongest stand and last effort to prevent our getting up. If this point is impassable there is solid ground there, and troops can be brought up  and landed below the forts and attack them in the rear while the ship assail them in front. The result will doubtless be a victory for us. If the ships can get by the forts, and there are no obstructions above, then the plan should be to push on to New Orleans every ship that can get there, taking up as many of the mortar-fleet as can be rapidly towed. An accurate reconnoissance should be made, and every kind of attainable information provided before any movement is made."

          "Nothing has been said about a combined attack of army and navy. Such a thing is not only practicable, but, if time permitted, could be adopted. Fort St. Philip can be take with three thousand men covered by the ships; the ditch can be filled with fascines, and the walls can be easily scaled with ladders. It can be easily attacked in front and rear." -- D. D. Porter

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