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Battle of New Orleans
May 10, 1862 Harper's Weekly Articles

The following articles are transcribed from Harper's Weekly, Journal of Civilization,  dated May 10, 1862:

The city of New Orleans, Louisiana, taken by the Union Forces, April 24, 1862.

Top: Flag-Officer Farragut's Gulf Squadron, and Commodore Porter's Mortar Fleet.

From a Sketch by our Special Artist on Board the Flag-Ship.

Bottom: Reconnoissance of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on the Mississippi, by Gun-boats from Flag-Officer Farragut's Squadron

Sketched by our Special Artist with the Squadron

The approaches to New Orleans by Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne. Sketched by Mr. A. Richardson

New Orleans

          We give on page 292 (top picture) a fine view of New Orleans, and on page 294 (middle picture) three views of the Approaches to the City by way of the Rigolets. On page 298 (bottom picture) we illustrate Commodore Farragut's Gulf Squadron, together with Commodore Porter's Mortar Fleet, and Forts Jackson and St. Philip.

          At the time we write we know nothing positively with regard to the progress of affairs at New Orleans, but dispatches through rebel sources state the city fell on 25th. We know that Commodore Farragut's expedition entered the Mississippi River a month ago - in the last week of March. For some time after their first appearance they seem to have been inactive. But on 23d we heard through rebel sources of the bombardment of Fort Jackson, which was represented as "terrific." Our next intelligence is contained in the following telegram which was published in the Petersburg Express of 26th:


Mobile, April 25, 1862

          The enemy passed Fort Jackson at four o'clock yesterday morning. When the news reached New Orleans the excitement was boundless. Martial law was put in full force, and business was completely suspended.

          All the cotton and steamboats, excepting such as were necessary to transport coin, ammunition, etc., were destroyed.

          At one-o'clock to-day the operator bade us "good-by," saying that the enemy had appeared before the city.

          This is the last we know regarding the fall. Will send particulars as soon as they can be had.


          New Orleans, as every one knows, is the queen city of the South. It is situated on the left bank of the Mississippi River, about 100 miles from its mouth, 1663 miles southwest from New York, and 1438 southwest from Washington. The city is built  around a bend in the river, from which circumstance it bears the sobriquet of "The Crescent City." The site inclines gently from the margin of the Mississippi toward the marshy ground in the rear, and is from two to five feet above the level of the river at the usual spring freshets. To prevent inundations an embankment or levee, about fifteen feet wide and six feet high, has been raised, extending 120 miles above the city, and to Port Plaquemine, 43 miles below it. The old city proper, originally laid out by the French, is in the form of a parallelogram, thirteen hundred and twenty yards long and seven hundred yards wide. Above this are what were formerly the faubourgs of St. Mary, Annunciation, and La Course; below, Marigny Dounois and Declouct' and in the rear, Treme and St. Johns. The streets of New Orleans are of convenient breadth, well paved, and usually intersect each other at right angles. Canal Street is the broadest, being over one hundred feet in width, with a grass-plot in the centre about twenty-five feet wide, extending throughout its entire length. Most of the buildings are constructed of brick, and are generally low, except in the business portion, where they are usually five or six stories high. The dwellings in the suburbs, many of them, particularly in Lafayette, are surrounded with spacious yards, beautifully decorated with the orange, lemon, magnolia, and other ornamental trees. A basement about six feet high constitutes the only cellar, as none are sunk below the surface on account of the marshy character of the ground. In different sections of the city are several public squares, among which may be mentioned Jackson Square, formerly called Place de Armes, occupying the centre of the river front of the old town plot, now the First District. It is ornamented with shell walks, shrubbery, statuettes, etc., and is much frequented for recreation. Lafayette Square, in the Second District, is finely laid out and adorned with a profusion of shade trees. Congo Square, in the rear of the city, is also a handsome inclosure.

          New Orleans is the chief cotton port in the United States. It had a population before the war of about 160,000.

          The following descriptions of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, which Commodore Farragut must have taken or silenced, will be read with interest.


Fort Jackson

          Fort Jackson is on the right or west bank of the river, immediately opposite Fort St. Philip, and about twenty-five miles from the head of the passes leading into the Gulf of Mexico. This is a very strong casemated fort, intended to mount one hundred and fifty guns, thirty-one of which were intended to have been barbette. When seized by the rebels it was not complete, and we have no reason to believe it has yet its full armament; but it has nevertheless, been considerably strengthened by the State authorities, and its complement of barbette guns placed in position. It cost the United States nearly a million of dollars, and is capable of holding six hundred men. Fort St. Philip and Fort Jackson so completely command the Mississippi that no vessel could pass them while they remained in operation.


Fort St. Philip

          This fort is situated on the left or east bank of the Mississippi River, about seventy miles below New Orleans. It is a very strong casemated fort, and with its one hundred and fifty guns, commands the navigation of the river. It was bombarded in 1815 by the British vessels of war, at which time it was commanded by Major Overton, uncle of Thomas Overton Moore, the present governor of Louisiana. The rebels have put some repairs upon it, and have substituted ten Columbiads for the same number of old guns, besides otherwise strengthening its defensible position. It has a lower and an upper exterior battery, mounting twenty-eight guns each. The Government paid for its construction two hundred and four thousand dollars, and its armament cost one hundred and two thousand more. It is capable of garrisoning six hundred men, and no doubt now contains at least that number.

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