War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0619 Chapter XVI. CAPTURE OF NEW ORLEANS.

Search Civil War Official Records

Lieutenant Colonel E. F. PALFREY, C. S. Army, was next sworn and examined as a witness.


Question. Where were you on duty in April, 1862, and for several months prior thereto? What was you rank and position at that time?

Answer. I was on duty as major, adjutant-general's department, on the staff of Major-General Lovell, in the city of New Orleans, from November 7, 1862, to the fall of the city.

Question. What were the business habits of Major-General Lovell during that time?

Answer. The office opened at 9.30 a. m., the general remaining in the office about three hours in the morning; from that time until 8 p. m. (excepting the interval for dinner) he was generally mounted, making an inspection of the camps and batteries. At 8 p. m. he returned to the office, where he met his staff. His duties generally detained him until 10 or 11 o'clock, and sometimes later. As well as I remember, the routine of duty that should obtain at headquarters was observed, business being dispatched with regularity and promptitude. I do not know that the general was ever absent a day from his office except on duty.

Question. Had you conversations with General Lovell touching the condition of the defenses of New Orleans and his ability to resist the attack of the enemy? If so, state the substance of those conversations.

Answer. He expressed confidence in his ability to resist the enemy so long as the obstructions at the forts might continue.

Question. Did General Lovell ever express to you any distrust as to the continuance of the obstructions?

Answer. About March 1, to the best of my recollection, he expressed some apprehension lest the accumulation of drift might destroy the raft.

Question. After the raft had been broken did he ever say to you that he considered the passage of the forts was practicable?

Answer. I do not think he ever did; but in a letter of March 10, to the Secretary of War, which came under my inspection, I think he said as much.

Question. Did General Lovell ever make known to you by word of mouth that the city of New Orleans could be taken by the enemy after the destruction of the raft between the forts, or from your conversations with him were you impressed with the belief that the city of New Orleans was likely to be captured?

Answer. I was not, that I remember.

Question. When was the piling begun at the Rigolets, when was it completed, and when washed away or destroyed?

Answer. It must have been begun and completed after February 18, and it was destroyed before the city fell.

Question. Do you whether any preparations were made for an evacuation before the forts were passed or while the fight was there progressing?

Answer. As near as I remember, commissary stores were sent from the city to various points on the railroad and to Covington some ten or fifteen days before the passage of the forts. That is all that I can recollect, and I regarded it rather as a precaution in the event of disaster than a preparations for an evacuation.

Question. Was the evacuation conducted with as much order and effect as the circumstances would allow?

Answer. I saw but little of the evacuation; the little I did see was conducted in an orderly manner.