The Southern city of New Orleans was defended downstream by two forts – Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip. For several weeks, U.S. Navy Flag Officer David Farragut and his Union fleet had been near these forts, spending days of bombardment with mortar shells. During this siege, crews cut through heavy chains strung across the river, granting access (on the 24th) for a fleet of 13 ships that successfully bypass and run the gauntlet of fire from the forts. The garrisons of these forts eventually surrendered on the 28th – being cut off and essentially behind lines.
Upriver, the city of New Orleans is forced to surrender on today’s date 150 years ago. The city is rather defenseless, with only 3,000 militia troops armed with a mishmash of weapons. The ring of defenses anticipated a land attack rather than an assault from the river. With the levee system, the ships of Farragut were actually at a level higher than the city.
The people and the authorities were defiant, refusing to surrender to Captain Bailey of the USS Cayuga. Farragut could have destroyed the city at that point, but chose rather to assault positions upstream. And on the 29th, Marines secured the capture of New Orleans.
This was not the end of defiance, as I’ll write again in a few days on the nature of the occupation of the city.