was felt that the river would remain closed until such time as the ironclad steamers Mississippi and Louisiana could be finished, which I was confidently informed would not be later than February 1.
The First raft constructed was not carried away by the high water and drift until the latter part of February; but with funds placed at my disposal by the citizens of New Orleans another was placed in position in March by the energetic labors of Colonel Higgins and others, and the position was again temporarily secure. No heavy guns had yet been received, although strenuous applications were made by me to get some from Pensacola when that place was abandoned. The general impression of all those to whom I applied was that the largest guns should be placed above New Orleans, not below (although I had notified the Department on March 22 that, in my judgment, the fleet only awaited the arrival of the mortar vessels to attempt to pass up the river from below). By means, however, of an energetic and persevering officer, Major W. P. Duncan, commissary of subsistence, three 10-inch columbiads and five mortars were finally procured and brought over just in time to be put up as the firing commenced.
Thinking that the enemy's troops at Isle Breton were intended to land at quarantine and act in the rear of Fort Saint Philip, I ordered Colonel Szymanski's regiment of ninety-day's men, armed with shot-guns, to that point as a protection. I had likewise organized two companies of sharpshooters and swamp-hunters, under Captains Mullen and Lartigue, which were sent down for operation upon the enemy's vessels from the banks of the river; but the high water, keeping the men day and night nearly waist deep in the water, soon compelled them to abandon their positions.
I will here state that every Confederate soldier in New Orleans, with the exception of one company, had been ordered to Corinth, to join General Beauregard in March, and the city was only garrisoned by about 3,000 ninety-day troops, called out by the governor at my request, of whom about 1,200 had muskets and the remainder shot-guns of an indifferent description.
The river rose rapidly in April and soon drove out Szymanski's regiment, which was removed to the west bank, about 6 miles above Fort Jackson. The whole country became one vast sheet of water, which rose in the forts and covered places heretofore safe from its encroachments.
Under the tremendous pressure of this current and a storm of wind and rain the second raft was broken away on the night of Friday, April 11, two days before the enemy first opened fire. The fourteen vessels of Montgomery's River Defense Expedition had been ordered by the Department, when completed, to be sent up to Memphis and Fort Pillow; but, believing the danger of attack to be greater from below, I detained six of them at New Orleans, of which change the Department was fully advised.
At my suggestion Governor Moore had also fitted up two steamers, which were sent to the forts below the city. A large number of fire rafts were also constructed and towed down, and two small steamers were employed for the special purpose of towing these raft into position where they could be most effective, so as to leave the armed vessels free to operate against the enemy.
I telegraphed General Beauregard to send down the iron-clad ram Manassas, and when the Secretary of the Navy ordered the steamer Louisiana to be sent also up the river I protested through the War Department, being satisfied that we required more heavy guns below.
33 R R-VOL VI