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Encyclopedia > New Orleans in the Civil War
Panoramic View of New Orleans-Federal Fleet at Anchor in the River, ca. 1862.
Panoramic View of New Orleans-Federal Fleet at Anchor in the River, ca. 1862.

New Orleans, Louisiana, was the largest city in the Southern United States during the American Civil War. Its location near the mouth of the Mississippi River made the city an important and early target of the Union Army, which occupied the city for much of the war, eliminating its vital status as a port for export of cotton and other Southern-produced trade goods. Download high resolution version (1092x1404, 362 KB)Panoramic View of New Orleans-Federal Fleet at Anchor in the River, ca. ... Download high resolution version (1092x1404, 362 KB)Panoramic View of New Orleans-Federal Fleet at Anchor in the River, ca. ... Nickname: The Crescent City, The Big Easy, The City That Care Forgot Location in the State of Louisiana and the United States Coordinates: Country United States State Louisiana Parish Orleans Founded 1718 Mayor Ray Nagin (D) Area    - City 350. ... Southern United States The states shown in dark red are usually included in the South, while all or portions of the striped states may or may not be considered part of the Southern United States. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert Edward Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties Killed in action: 110,000 Total dead: 360,000 Wounded: 275,200 Killed in action: 93,000 Total dead: 258... The Mississippi River, derived from the old Ojibwe word misi-ziibi meaning great river (gichi-ziibi big river at its headwaters), is the longest river in the United States; the second-longest is the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi. ... The 21st Michigan Infantry, a company of Shermans veterans. ... Cotton ready for harvest. ...


Early war years

In the 1860 census, New Orleans ranked as the 6th largest city in the United States, with a population reported as 168,675. It was the only city in the South over 100,000 people. It provided troops, armament, and supplies to the Confederate States Army. Among the early responders to the call for troops was the "Washington Artillery," a pre-war militia artillery company that later formed the nucleus of a battalion in the Army of Northern Virginia. Some Confederate soldiers The Confederate States Army (CSA) was formed in February 1861 to defend the Confederate States of America, which had itself been formed that same year when seven southern states seceded from the United States (with four more to follow). ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War in the eastern theater. ...

Early in the Civil War, New Orleans was captured by the Union without a battle in the city itself, and hence was spared the destruction suffered by many other cities of the American South. It retains a historical flavor with a wealth of 19th century structures far beyond the early colonial city boundaries of the French Quarter. In general, the word colonial means of or relating to a colony. In United States history, the term Colonial is used to refer to the period before US independence. ... French Quarter: upper Chartres street looking down towards Jackson Square and the spires of St. ...

Fall of New Orleans

The political and commercial importance of New Orleans, as well as its strategic position, marked it out as the objective of a Union expedition soon after the opening of the Civil War. Captain D.G. Farragut was selected by the Union government for the command of the Western Gulf squadron in January 1862. The four heavy ships of the squadron (none of them armoured) were with many difficulties brought up to the head of the passes, and around them assembled nineteen smaller vessels (mostly gunboats) and a flotilla of twenty mortar-boats under Commander David Dixon Porter. The main defences of the Mississippi consisted of the two permanent forts, Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip. These were of masonry and brick construction, armed with heavy rifled guns as well as smooth-bores, and placed on either bank so as to command long reaches of the river and the surrounding flats. In addition, the Confederates had some improvised ironclads and gunboats, large and small. Map of the division of the states during the Civil War. ... Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Admiral David Glasgow Farragut David Glasgow Farragut (July 5, 1801 – August 14, 1870) was the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Navy during the American Civil War. ... A gunboat is literally a boat carrying one or more guns. ... A flotilla (from Spanish, meaning a flota of small ships, and this from French flotte), or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. ... Portrait of David Dixon Porter during the Civil War David Dixon Porter (June 8, 1813 – February 13, 1891) was a United States admiral who became one of the most noted naval heroes of the Civil War. ... Fort Jackson, Drawn in 1817 Fort Jackson is a masonry fort located near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana. ... Fort St. ... Categories: Stub | American Civil War | Confederate States Navy ... Ironclad warships, frequently shortened to just ironclads, were ships sheathed with thick iron plates for protection. ...

On April 16, after elaborate reconnaissances, the Union fleet steamed up into position below the forts, and on April 18 the mortar-boats opened fire. Their shells fell with great accuracy, and although one of the boats was sunk and two disabled, Fort Jackson was seriously damaged. But the defences were by no means crippled even after a second bombardment on the 19th, and a formidable obstacle to the advance of the Union main fleet was a boom between the forts designed to detain the ships under close fire should they attempt to run past. At that time the eternal duel of ship versus fort seemed to have been settled in favor of the latter, and it was well for the Union government that it had placed its ablest and most resolute officer at the head of the squadron. Gunboats were repeatedly sent up at night to endeavour to destroy the boom, and the bombardment went on, disabling only a few guns but keeping the gunners of Fort Jackson under cover. At last the gunboats Pinola and Itasca ran in and broke a gap in the boom, and at 2:00 a.m. on April 24 the fleet weighed anchor, Farragut in the corvette Hartford leading. After a severe conflict at close quarters, with the forts and with the ironclads and fire rafts of the defence, almost all the Union fleet (except the mortar-boats) forced its way past. At noon on April 25, Farragut anchored in front of New Orleans; Forts Jackson and St. Philip, isolated and continuously bombarded by the mortarboats, surrendered on April 28; and soon afterwards the military portion of the expedition occupied the city. April 16 is the 106th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (107th in leap years). ... April 18 is the 108th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (109th in leap years). ... April 24 is the 114th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (115th in leap years). ... French steam corvette Dupleix (1856-1887) Canadian corvettes on antisubmarine convoy escort duty during World War II. A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, smaller than a frigate. ... April 25 is the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (116th in leap years). ... April 28 is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 247 days remaining. ...

New Orleans under the Federal army

The commander, General Benjamin Butler, subjected New Orleans to a rigorous martial law so tactlessly administered as greatly to intensify the hostility of South and North. In the city Butler was nicknamed "The Beast", or "Spoons Butler" (the latter arising from silverware looted from local homes by some Union troops, though there was no evidence that Butler himself was personally involved in such thievery). Butler's administration did have benefits to the city, which was kept both orderly and due to his massive cleanup efforts unusually healthy by 19th century standards. Towards the end of the war General Nathaniel Prentice Banks held the command at New Orleans. Benjamin Franklin Butler Benjamin Franklin Butler (November 5, 1818 – January 11, 1893) was an American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and later served as its governor. ... Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect (usually after a formal declaration) when a military authority takes control of the normal administration of justice. ... // A nickname is a short, clever, cute, derogatory, or otherwise substitute name for a person or things real name (for example, Bob, Rob, Robby, Robbie, Robi, Bobby, Rab, Bert, Bertie, Butch, Bobbers, Bobert, Beto, Bobadito, and Robban (in Sweden), are all short for Robert). ... Starch-polyester disposable cutlery Cutlery refers to any hand utensil used in preparing, serving, and especially eating food. ... General Nathaniel Banks served as Governor of Massachusetts and the Speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives before becoming a General in the Union Army. ...

Further reading

  • Grace King: New Orleans, the Place and the People (1895)
  • Henry Rightor: Standard History of New Orleans (1900)
  • John Smith Kendall: History of New Orleans (1922)
U.S. cities in the Civil War
North: Cleveland - New York City - Romney, WV - Washington, D.C.
Border states: Louisville - St. Louis
South: Atlanta - Charleston - Mobile - Nashville - New Orleans - Richmond - Wilmington



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