Nic Clark of Civil War Tours New Orleans joins Mark to discuss the intriguing people and places guests visit on his guided tours about the Civil War. From the French Quarter to the famous cemeteries, we see how guests can experience history in New Orleans as he gives them a “great way to see the city.”
Listening to this episode provides a peak into the topics Mark covers in his new book, “A Mortal Blow to the Confederacy: The Fall of New Orleans, 1862.” It is being published this spring and is the latest in the Emerging Civil War series of books.
About A Mortal Blow to the Confederacy
Early in the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln stressed the strategic importance of the Mississippi River. He knew that ultimately the Union would have to capture New Orleans to control that waterway. As the largest city in the South—and third largest in the U.S.—New Orleans was the key to the Mississippi and commercial gateway for the Confederacy. Lincoln and key cabinet and military leaders, devised a plan to attack New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico with a formidable naval flotilla under one commander, David G. Farragut, who would have complete decision-making authority.
The Confederates also knew the importance of New Orleans. They began defense readiness in earnest. However, hampered by a dearth of manufacturing facilities, lack of supplies and anemic leadership they fell woefully behind in their preparations. To compound this, the authorities in Richmond remained steadfastly undecided about where the threat to the city lay. Aged fortifications seventy miles downriver were the main protection for the city. Thrust into the middle was new commander, General Mansfield Lovell. He put a sound plan in place, improved the defenses and bolstered the confidence of the citizenry. However, as the Union fleet drew precariously near, he was hampered by conflicting orders from Richmond and subordinates he could not command. Meanwhile, Farragut proceeded with unchallenged authority.
The spring of 1862 saw a furious naval battle begin at Forts Jackson and St. Philip. The city entered the Easter season with a sense of dread. The distant bombardment reached their ears portending an ominous outcome. The drama that unfolded once the Union fleet and army reached the city was an early harbinger of the dark days to come for the Confederacy.