Question. State generally your knowledge of the condition of the defenses in Department Numbers 1 at the time General Lovell assumed command of it.
Answer. The defenses consisted of Forts Pike and Macomb, guarding the approaches to New Orleans by way of Lake Pontchartrain; of Battery Bienvenue and Tower Dupre, guarding the steams leading from Lake Borne to the main-land between the city; of a field work at Proctorsville, prepared for six guns, but not armed, guarding the approach to the city by way of the Protorsville Railroad; of Forts Jackson and Saint Philip, guarding the approach by way of Barataria Bay; of Forst Berwick and Chene, on Berwick Bay, guarding the approach by the Opelousas Railroad, and a little work called Fort Guion, on La Fourche, was nearly completed and ready for guns. These constituted the outer line of defense.
In July, 1861, the inner line of defense was projected and in about the following condition when General Lovell assumed command, viz: It consisted of a continuous line across the Gentily Ridge, prepared for artillery and infantry (this work was, I think, finished, but no guns mounted); of a continuous line at Chalmette, stretching from the swamp to the Mississippi, also intended for artillery and infantry (about half completed, the contractor, with his full power, being at work upon it); of a continuous line on the right bank of the river, known as the McGehee line, also stretching from the river to the swamp, and prepared for artillery and infantry (not more than one-sixth of the line was finished, but the contractor was at work upon it); of a line above the city, known as the Barataria line, on the right bank of the river, also stretching from the river to the swamp (not more than a sixth of the line was completed; the contractor at work upon it); of a continuous line of works about a mile an a half above Carrollton, on the left bank of the river, then known as the Victor line, intended to mouth fourteen guns between the bank and the swamp (this work was about half done; the contractor at work with full force; no guns mounted); of a two gun battery, guarding the Carrollton Railroad from Lake Pontchartain, together with supporting infantry works (I do not think this work was then commenced); of a battery and short infantry line, guarding the shell road and canal leading from Lake Pontchartain to the city (no work had been done upon this line); of a battery and infantry line guarding the road Bayou Saint John, from Lake Pontchartain to take city (the contractor had just commenced upon this, he being the same who had finished the Gentilly work); of a battery and supporting infantry works guarding the Portchartrain Railroad, leading into the city (I do not think this work had been commenced). These works constituted the interior line.
A raft was projected, to present the ascent of the river, by Colonel (now Brigadier-General) Hebert and myself, in July, 1861, which was completed and swing into place about the middle of September, stretching from Fort Jackson to Saint Philip, where it remained until March or April, when it was swept away. Much lobar was expended by General Lovell in securing this obstruction by additional chains and anchors; in keeping it stretched in position; in additionally securing it to the banks, and in preventing a too great accumulation of drift against it. Fort Pike, guarding the Rigolets, was a complete work in April, 1861, as originally designed, as also Forts Macomb and Jackson. The inner or main work of Saint Philip had once been completed, but on account of the insecure foundation it had settled; the walls had cracked and were insecure in the rear. An encircling outwork had been projected by the Engineer Department of the United States, upon which about one season's work had been done. This was unfinished at the time General Lovell assumed command.
At Fort Livingston one cistern had been repaired; the other two were incapable of repair; the pintle-block and traverse circles were laid, and it had five or six guns mounted. The forts was gradually sinking, and the counterscarp gallery was constantly filled with water, and remained so. All these forts on the exterior line were armed, except Fort Guion. Their precise armament you can better ascertain from the officers stationed there at that time, as also the amount of ammunition on had. The materials of war-guns, powder, projectiles, &c.-had to some extent been sent away from New Orleans and Baton Rouge to Pensacola, and, I think, everything of material remaining, except some guns, recently arrived from Richmond for the interior lien, had been distributed to the forts before mentioned. The department was originally poorly supplied.
Question. State your knowledge of the causes of the fall of New Orleans, and how it might have been prevented, if at all, with the means at the disposal of the commanding general.
Answer. New Orleans, in my judgment, fell of necessity when thirteen of the enemy's vessels succeeded in passing Forts Jackson and Saint Philip. These vessels, in my judgment, were able to pass at any time after the river was free from obstructions.