Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for “The most important operation of the war…”  “The Life of David Glasgow Farragut.”

“The most important operation of the war…” “The Life of David Glasgow Farragut.”

February 10, 2012

The American Civil War,The Life of David Glasgow Farragut.

Navy Department,
February 10, 1862.

Flag-officer D. G. Farragut, U. S. Navy,

Commanding Western
Gulf Blockading Squadron,

Ship Island,

Sir: I inclose to you herewith sketches from the United States Engineer Bureau relative to the works on the Mississippi River; also a memorandum prepared by General Barnard, United .States Army, who constructed Fort St. Philip. The most important operation of the war is confided to yourself and your brave associates, and every light possible to obtain should be carefully considered before putting into operation the plan which your judgment dictates.

approaches to New OrleansIt is reported that nineteen feet of water can be carried over the bar. If this be true, the frigate Mississippi can be got over without much difficulty. The Colorado draws about twenty-two feet; she lightens one inch to twenty-four tons; her keel is about two feet deep. The frigate Wabash, when in New York in 1858, drew, without her spar-deck guns, stores, water casks, tanks, and coal (excepting thirty tons), aft twenty feet four inches, forward sixteen feet, or on an even keel eighteen feet four inches. This would indicate a very easy passage for this noble vessel, and, if it be possible to get these two steamers over, and perhaps a sailing vessel also, you will take care to use every exertion to do so. The powerful tugs in the bomb flotilla will afford the necessary pulling power. The tops of these large steamers are from thirty to fifty feet above the fort, and command the parapets and interior completely with howitzers and musketry. The Wachusett at Boston; the Oneida, Richmond, Varuna, and Dakota at New York; and the Iroquois from the West Indies, are ordered to report to you with all practicable dispatch, and every gunboat which can be got ready in time will have the same orders. All of the bomb-vessels have sailed, and the steamers to accompany them are being prepared with great dispatch. It is believed the last will be off by the 16th instant.

Eighteen thousand men are being sent to the Gulf to cooperate in the movements which will give to the arms of the United States full possession of the ports within the limits of your command. You will, however, carry out your instructions with regard to the Mississippi and Mobile without any delay beyond that imposed upon you by your own careful preparations. A division from Ship Island will probably be ready to occupy the forts that will fall into your hands. The Department relies upon your skill to give direction to the powerful force placed at your disposal, and upon your personal character to infuse a hearty cooperation among your officers, free from unworthy jealousies. If successful, you open the way to the sea for the great West, never again to be closed. The rebellion will be riven in the centre, and the flag to which you have been so faithful will recover its supremacy in every State.

Very respectfully, etc.,

Gideon Welles.

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