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

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Cruise of the U.S. Flag-Ship Hartford – From the Personal Journal of Wm. C. Holton

December 24, 2012

Cruise of the U.S. Flag-Ship Hartford–Wm. C. Holton

December 24th. To-day Major-General Butler and Brigadier-General Shepley visited the ship. At eleven A. M., General Butler left the ship in the barge, and went on board the steamer S. R. Spaulding, which is to convey him North. Saluted him with thirteen guns; also cheered ship. The Spaulding went down the river as soon as General Butler arrived on board. At three P. M., French Admiral visited the ship.

One year has nearly elapsed since we weighed anchor at Philadelphia, and in that space of time Admiral Farragut has accomplished what perhaps no other man in the U. S. Navy could have done, viz., opened the way to New Orleans. True, Vicksburg is yet in the way of the free navigation of the Mississippi river, yet that fact detracts not one iota from the credit due to the brave old man. The original object of the expedition was simply the reduction of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and the fortifications supposed to be placed on the river up to the city of New Orleans; but after the splendid success that crowned the efforts of the fleet, the Government issued the order that Vicksburg should be attacked, which was accordingly done, the fleet passing and repassing it; and it was patent to every intelligent eye, that had there been troops sent to garrison the place, the batteries opposed to us could easily have been carried under the fire that would have been brought to bear from the shipping. Porter’s iron fleet then formed a junction with us, and as this was their proper district we withdrew, having cleared the Mississippi river for the distance of four hundred miles, and thereby thrown open to commerce an immense district of the richest portion of the South.

Of the smaller places that were conquered under the direction of Admiral Farragut no mention need here be made, the crowning deed was done in the first battle, and besides, are not “all these mentioned in the Chronicles.”

In the selection of the officers in charge of the different departments of the expedition, Government has been very fortunate. They all thoroughly understood their work, and heartily co-operated in their efforts to overcome the enemy. The crews of the vessels are men that do honor to their commanders,—hardy, brave and willing, they need no urging, and are entitled to the motto, Semper paratus.

The expedition has been so fortunate as not to encounter that infectious disease, yellow fever,—more to be feared by unacclimated persons than the fiercest battles. The excellent sanitary regulations of the fleet, by Dr. Foltz, has caused the mortality from disease to be less than the most sanguine could have hoped. The loss of life in battle has been very small, all things being taken into consideration, although the expedition has been the most fortunate of the war, owing, under Providence, to Rear-Admiral Farragut, and his meritorious and intelligent officers.

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