under the walls of the fort. Supposing that all the rebel boats had been destroyed (and a dozen or more had been) he passed on to the city, leaving those in his rear. The iron steam battery being very formidable, Captain Porter deemed it prudent to withdraw his mortar fleet some miles below, where he could have room to maneuver it if attacked by the iron monster, and the bombardment ceased.
I had got Brigadier-General Phelps in the river below with two regiments to make demonstrations in that direction if it became possible. In the night of the 27th, learning that the fleet had got the city under its guns, I left Brigadier-General Williams in charge of the landing of the troops and went up the river to the flagship to procure light-draught transportation. That night the larger portion (about 250) of the garrison of Fort Jackson mutinied, spiked the guns bearing up the river, came up and surrendered themselves to my pickets, declaring that as we had got in their rear resistance was useless, and they would not be sacrificed. No bomb had been thrown at them for three days nor had they fired a shot at us from either fort. They averred that they had been impressed and would fight no longer.*
On the 28th the officers of Forts Jackson and Saint Philip surrendered to Captain Porter, he having means of water transportation to them. While he was negotiating, however, with the officers of the forts under a white flag the rebel naval officers put all their munitions of war on the Louisiana, set her on fire and adrift upon the Harriet Lane, but when opposite Fort Saint Philip she blew up, killing one of their own men by the fragments which fell into that fort.
I have taken possession of the forts, and find them substantially as defensible as before the bombardment-Saint Philip precisely so, it being quite uninjured. They are fully provisioned, well supplied with ammunition, and the ravages of the shells have been defensibly repaired by the labors of the rebels. I will cause Lieutenant Weitzel, of the Engineers, to make a detailed report of their condition to the Department. I have left the Twenty-sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers in garrison, and am now going up the river to occupy the city with my troops and make further demonstrations in the rear of the enemy, now at Corinth.
The rebels have abandoned all their defensive works in and around New Orleans, including Forts Pike and Wood, on Lake Pontchartrain, and Fort Livingston from Barataria Bay. They have retired in the direction of Corinth, beyond Manchac Pass, and abandoned everything up the river as far as Donaldsonville, some 70 miles beyond New Orleans. I propose to so far depart from the letter of my instructions as to endeavor to persuade the flag-officer to pass up the river as far as the mouth of Red River, if possible, so as to cut off their supplies, and make there a landing and a demonstration in their rear as a diversion in favor of General Buell if a decisive battle is not fought before such movement is possible.
Mobile is ours whenever we choose, and we can better wait.
I find the city under the dominion of the mob. They have insulted our flag-torn it down with indignity. This outrage will be punished in such manner as in my judgment will caution both the perpetrators and abettors of the act, so that they shall fear the stripes if they do not reverence the stars of our banner.
I send a marked copy of a New Orleans paper, containing an applauding account of the outrage.+
*See Butler to Stanton, June 1, 1862, in Chapter XXVII.