War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0623 Chapter XVI. CAPTURE OF NEW ORLEANS.

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arrangements should be made to have the vessels worked upon at night and on Sundays, as there were many mechanics idle in the city that could relieve each other. I saw the Secretary of the Navy frequently upon the subjected of these vessels; told him that I considered that the safety of New Orleans depended mainly, if not entirely, upon them, so far as a naval attack was concerned, which was the only one I apprehended, and I informed him of the anxiety that was felt by the people of New Orleans on the subject. The Secretary did not, however, seem to be alive to the magnitude of the danger, although I read him an extract from a New York newspaper containing a description of iron-plated vessels that were being built at Saint Louis and Cincinnati expressly to descent the Mississippi, and spoke of similar gunboats being at New York. I mentioned the suggestion, which I thought a good one, that the work upon these vessels should be continued at night and on Sundays. I do not remember what he said about night work, but in regard to working on Sundays he said it would shock the religious sensibilities of the people. I told him, in reply, that so far as my constituents were concerned there were none of them that would be at all shocked; that the enemy would not hesitate to attack us on Sunday, and I did not see why we should not prepare to defend ourselves on Sunday. The letters to me also mentioned, on several occasions, that the mechanics employed on the naval works were not punctually paid, and, in consequence, they ere greatly dissatisfied and much indisposed to work for that arm of the service. I think they stated that numbers had left on that account, refusing to work. I invariably informed the Secretary of the Navy of these complaints or read him that portion of the letter. He did not seem at all surprised at this information, but stated that the Treasury Department failed to supply him the funds as fast as they were needed. On one occasion I was somewhat excited, because I thought he threaded such information too highly, and I told I did not know anything more important to which money could be applied than the completion of the two vessels upon which the safety of New Orleans depended, and that as he was responsible for the proper prosecution of the work I thought it was his duty to insist that the money should be so applied. Finally a committee of several prominent citizens of New Orleans was deputized to come on here to urge the Government to more energetic measures in regard to the two gunboats. They came to me, and I introduced the chairman (Mr. William Henderson, a respectable merchant of the city, a very zealous and energetic man) to the President and the Secretary of the Navy, and he represented to them the delay attending the building of these vessels, and made some suggestions on the subject the nature of which I do not now recollect. He spoke particularly of the backwardness of paying the workmen as one cause of the delay. After the interview he said orders had been given to remedy the financial troubles, and also for the shaft, that had been here for some time. This was in January or February, 1862. After this, however, the complaints about the slow progress of the work still continued, and I frequently saw the Secretary and informed him of the uneasiness felt by the citizens for the safety of New Orleans, in which I fully participated. I at last came to the conclusion that New Orleans would be taken, the only question in my mind being whether by the gunboats from above or the fleet from the sea. So strong was my belief that I mentioned it confidentially to several of my friends, though I did not publicity declare it, not deeming it prudent. Mr. Mallory having addressed a letter to the chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs, recommending the construction of a founder and naval depot at New Orleans, i mentioned to the committee my opinion on this subject as a reason why the suggestion should not be adopted, as I through New Orleans would probably be taken that spring, and, accordingly, I wrote a letter to the Secretary in reply to his note, in which I mentioned, as our reason why his suggestion was disapproved by the committee, the belief or the apprehension felt by them that New Orleans would be captured owing to the backwardness of the naval preparations at that place. This was some five or six weeks before the attack on the forts. I also felt it my duty, both as the Representative from New Orleans and as chairman of the Committee on Naval affairs, publicity to proclaim in Congress my conviction of the incapacity or inefficiency of the Secretary of the Navy.

The court met pursuant to adjournment.

Present, all the members of the court, the judge-advocate, and Major-General Lovell.

The proceeding of yesterday were read over.

Examination of Honorable C. M. CONRAD continued.


Question. Did not the President grant the request preferred by you