Early during the Civil War, President Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, realized the necessity of capturing New Orleans. With a population of 170,000, it was the largest city of the Confederacy. More important, however, was the fact that the inland seaport controlled the mouth of the Mississippi River.
Welles believed that whoever dominated the waterway would win the war. On the west side of the river were three states which had cast their lot with the South - Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. If they could be cut off from helping the rebels, then the Confederacy would be blockaded, both along the river and the east coast.
On 12 November 1861, Cmdr. David Porter approached Gideon Wells with a plan to capture New Orleans by using the Federal Fleet. Porter advocated a heavy bombardment of the river defenses followed by a quick thrust by fast Naval vessels up the channel to the city. The adventuresome young officer planned to use 13-in Army siege mortars, mounted on dismantled schooners, to reduce the enemy fortifications.
BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
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