The Opening of the Lower Mississippi. 563
not obstruct the river or throw the Union fleet into confusion while passing the forts."
On page 940, Admiral Porter says: "We had kept up a heavy fire night and day (from the mortar fleet) for nearly five days about 2,800 shells every twenty-four hours." This was kept up from be- hind a point of land below Fort Jackson, upon which, by some short-sightedness on the Confederate side, the military commander had allowed the trees to remain uncut down, so that the shells from the mortars could be thrown over the trees into Forts Jackson and St. Philip, while the mortar vessels were not visible from the forts. This was the fire which General Duncan wished the Louisiana, by dropping down, to divert from the forts to herself. When the sug- gestion was urged. Commodore Mitchell had a consultation with his officers. It was decided, and wisely, that it was injudicious, for the reason that it would pjace her under the fire of the whole Federal fleet commanded by Admiral Farragut, without its being in her power to reach them by a single shot, in consequence of her ports not admitting of an elevation of more than five degrees; and in ad- dition, to the terrific fire of Admiral Porter's mortar fleet " 2,800 shells in twenty-four hours" any one of which, falling upon her un- protected upper deck, would have gone through her bottom and sunk her, under which combined fires it would be impossible for any work to be done on our machinery, which we so hoped to complete in time for service when the Federals should come up. Is it not, then, unjust to thus speak of Commodore Mitchell ? Is it not con- clusive that in his refusal to do so ill-judged a thing, he proved rather that he was the man for the occasion ?
At the time that Admiral Farragut's fleet ran the batteries, Com- modore Mitchell's command consisted of the still helplessly immova- ble Louisiana, Commander Charles F. Mclntosh, the converted merchant propeller, McRae, Lieutenant-Commander Thomas Huger, and the little ram, Manassas, Lieutenant-Commander Alexander F. Warley. That all these were fought bravely, and as efficiently as their character and condition admitted of, was thoroughly estab- lished.
The courageous Mclntosh and Huger received mortal wounds, to say nothing of many other brave spirits. The officers and men of these necessarily illy constructed, illy armed and provided, and in- complete substitutes for vessels of war, went out to fight, and did fight, each, as it came up, one of the most powerful naval ti that this country ever fitted out, with all the improvements and facili-