Friday, April 27, 2012



April 27, 1862

The following is a copy of the mayor's reply to the commodore's [Farragut] verbal demand for surrender of the city:

New Orleans Mayor John T. Monroe
(Kendall's History of New Orleans)
Mayoralty of New Orleans,

City Hall, April 26, 1862,

To Flag Officer D. G. Farragut, U.S. Flag Ship Hartford:

Sir - In pursuance of the resolution which he thought proper to take, out of regard for the lives of the women and children who still crowd this great metropolis, Gen. Lovell has evacuated it with his troops, and restored back to me the administration of its government and the custody of its honor.

I have, in concert with the city fathers, considered the demand you made of me on yesterday, of an unconditional surrender of the city, coupled with a requisition to hoist up the flag of the United States on the public edifices, and to haul down that which still floats to the breeze from the dome of this hall; and it becomes my duty to transmit to you the answer which the universal sentiment of my constituency no less than the promptings of my own heart dictate to me on this sad and solemn occasion.

The city is without means of defense, and utterly destitute of the force and material that might enable it to resist the overpowering armament displayed in sight of it.

I am no military man, and possess no authority beyond that of executing the municipal laws of the city of New Orleans.

It would be presumptuous in me to attempt to lead an army to the field, if I had one at my command, and I know still less how to surrender an undefended place, bad as this is, at the mercy of your gunners, and mouth of your mortars.

To surrender such a place would be an idle and unmeaning ceremony. The city is yours by the power of brutal force, and not by any choice or consent of its inhabitants. It is for you to determine what shall be the fate that awaits her.

As to the hoisting of any flag than the flag of our own adoption and allegiance, let me say to you, sir, that the man lives not in our midst whose hand and heart would not be palsied at the mere thought of such an act; nor could I find in my entire constituency so wretched and desperate a renegade as would dare to profane with his hand the sacred emblem of our aspirations.

Sir, you have manifested sentiments which would become one engaged in a better cause than that to which you have devoted your sword. I doubt not but that they spring from a noble through nature, and I know how to appreciate the emotions which inspired them.

You will have a gallant people to administer during your occupation of this city - a people sensative of all that can in the least affect its dignity and self-respect. Pray, sir, do not allow them to be insulted by the interference of such as have rendered themselves odious and contemptible by their dastardly desertion of the might struggle to which we are engage, nor of such as might remind them too painfully that they are the conquered and you the conquerors.

The obligations which I shall assume in their name shall be religiously complied with.

You may trust their honor, though you ought not to count on their submission to unmerited wrong.

In conclusion, I beg you to understand that the people of New Orleans, while unable, at this moment, to prevent you from occupying this city, do not transfer their allegiance from the government of their choice to one which they have deliberately repudiated, and that they yield simply that obedience which the conqueror is enabled to extort from the conquered.

Since writing the above, which is an answer to your verbal communication of yester4day, I have received a written communication, to which I shall replay before 12 o'clock, if possible to prepare an answer in that time.


John T. Monroe .

Action of the Council.

The adjourned meeting of the joint session of the two Boards of the Common Council met, at ten o'clock this forenoon, in the Hall of the Board of Assistant Aldermen, when the following preamble and resolution were adopted:

"The Common Council of thecity of New Orleans having been advised by the military authorities that the city is indefensible, declare that not resistance will be made to the forces of the United States.

"Resolved, That the sentiments expressed in the message of his honor the mahyor of Common Council are in perfect accordance with the sentiments of this council and the entire population of this metropolis, and that the mayor be respectfully requested to set in the spirit manifested by his message.

The joint session then adjourned.

Battle of New Orleans, 1862
(Library of Congress)

We have seen a prominent participant in the gunboat conflict in the neighborhood of Fort Jackson, and we have conversed with eye-witnesses of the conflict, and all that we have heard only confirms our previous expectations of the affair when it took place. The command of the Confederate boats, it appears, was taken by a Capt. Mitchell, a recent importation of the stereotyped red-tape order, from Richmond, and so thoroughly did he comprehend his duties and so ably fulfill them, that even signals of danger, of battle, nor of anything else, were provided by him, and it was only after remonstrance from our gallant river men forced him to do something, that he could be prevailed upon to arrange a simple signal for captains to communicate with the flag vessel.

He must be one of Benjamin's schools. The fight consequently was to be invaded a complete surprise; no order of battle was or could be signaled, and the captains of the gunboat fleet of Louisiana were obliged, each for himself, to do the fighting on his own hook; and gallantly and nobly, but ineffectually, did they perform their duty. The Quitman, commanded by the fearless Grant, obstinately resisted while her timbers held together the attack of three Federal vessels, each of superior force, one of which, before she herself went to the bottom, she sunk.

One man on board is known to be dead and nine and over missing, supposed also to have perished. The Charles Morgan, commanded by Capt. Kennon, also sustained her share of the unequal combat with unflinching spirit and resolution, until she, like the Quitman, went to the bottom. Her loss in men is said to have been severe, and it is said Kennon is a prisoner. The other vessels engaged with the Quitman and the Morgan on the Confederate side behaved with commendable gallantry; but fortune favored adverse, and they either sank in the conflict, or were destroyed by their officers and crews, three or four only remaining afloat.

The spectators of the fight represent it as having the appearance of absolute desperation, the vessels on both sides being fought as if the combatants upon each believed that all depended upon their own heroic resolution. Our side foiled in the fight unequally undertaken and miserably directed; but they vindicated the native valor of the race and the honor of Louisiana, and the brave who were victors cannot but entertain for them sincere respect. While chronicling thus briefly and imperfectly the self-sacrificing performances of the hastily constructed and imperfectly equipped fllet of boats of Louisiana, we cannot express the contempt every many breast must feel for the low exhibitions a set of fellows who skulk from the defense of their State in the hour of need are now making in our streets. We have fallen, after a defense that does infinite honor to the men who made it, and before our forts have yet struck their colors, or shown a particle of wavering, under the fearful deluge of shot and shell now for nearly two weeks without intermission poured upon them; but let us take care that this heroism be not sullied by the outrages of outcasts, or made to blush to see impotent personal vindictiveness attempting that it is so confident of achieving. The position of defeated valor is mortifying and afflicting enough, but while hour is untarnished success can be achieved.

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