On the 25th Captain Bailey, of the Federal Navy, demanded the surrender of the city, and that the flags should be taken down, and the United States flag be put up over the mint, custom-house, and other public buildings.
To this demand I returned an unqualified refusal, declaring that I would not surrender the city or any portion of my command, but added that, feeling unwilling to subject the city to bombardment, and recognizing the utter impossibility of removing the women and children, I should withdraw my troops and turn it over to the civil authorities.
This I did in compliance with the openly-expressed opinion of all the prominent citizens around me, that it would be a useless waste of blood, without being productive of any beneficial results to the cause for the troops to remain.
Captain Bailey then returned to his ship, under escort through the city (at his own request) of two officers of my staff, Colonel Lovell and Major James, and I then advised the mayor not to surrender the city, nor to allow the flags to be taken down by any of our people, but to leave it to the enemy to take them down himself.
This advice was followed by the city authorities; but the idea being held out, in their subsequent correspondence with the Federal officers, that they were placed in a defenseless condition by the withdrawal of the troops, but for which a different course might be pursued, I promptly telegraphed to Major James, of my staff, then in the city, offering to return at once, with my command, if the citizens felt disposed to resist to the last extremity, and remain with them to the end.
I had deliberately made up my mind that, although such a step would be entirely indefensible in a military point of view, yet, if the people of New Orleans were desirous of signalizing their patriotism and devotion to the cause by the bombardment and burning of their city, I would return with my troops and not leave as long as one brick remained upon another. The only palliation for such an act would be that it would give unmistakable evidence to the world that our people were in deadly earnest.
This determination, plainly expressed in my dispatches to Major James (herewith transmitted, marked A), was read by him to the mayor and also to the city council in the presence of one or more prominent citizens. The opinion was generally and freely expressed by the mayor and others that the troops ought not to return. (See report of Major James, hereunto appended, marked B.)
I went to the city myself, however, on the night of April 28, and, in order that there might be no mistake, made the same proposition in person to the mayor. He said he did not think it advisable for the troops to return; that such a step would only be followed by a useless sacrifice of life without any corresponding benefit, and urged decidedly that it be not done.
I, however, addressed him a letter (herewith appended, marked C), declaring my willingness to return and share a bombardment with them, and waited until the night of the 29th for an answer; but, receiving none in writing, returned to Camp Moore. The same proposition was made by me in the course of the day to several prominent citizens, but was invariably discountenanced by them.
For a week after the withdrawal of the troops I had a number of officers in the city and kept trains running regularly, which brought out a large amount of Government property and stores, as well as those of the State of Louisiana. Nearly everything was brought away except the heavy guns and some property which persons in their flight had de-