The First Chalmette Monument was the Grand Army of the Republic monument.
First Chalmette Monument
Photo of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Monument, by George François Mugnier. Undated photo, likely from the 1880s. This monument stands in the Chalmette National Cemetery, on the end closest to the river. The Latin inscription translates to, “While they are silent, they shout.” Locals referred to it as the “First Chalmette Monument.” The 1907 obelisk claimed the title “Chalmette Monument” upon its completion.
Chalmette National Cemetery
New Orleanians buried Enslaved Americans, along with troops fighting on both sides of the Southern Rebellion, as early as 1861, in Chalmette. So, in 1864, the Union Army formalized this burial ground. They designated 17.5 acres of land from the “back” of the Chalmette battlefield as a National Cemetery. Locals know this area as the “British side” of the battlefield. The British advanced to this location on 8-January-1815. Of the approximately 15,000 people buried in the cemetery, over 6,500 are unidentified. Additionally, most of these are United States Colored Troops (USCT), whose graves are marked only by numbered headstones. While most of the burials here date to the Southern Rebellion, four veterans of the 1815 battle rest here.
Grand Army of the Republic
The Grand Army of the Republic was a Union Army and Navy veterans organization, founded in 1866, at Springfield, Illinois. The organization claimed membership of 410,000 by the 1890s. Union veterans established local chapters, known as “posts” across the country, including many cities in the former rebel states. The GAR post in New Orleans funded and erected the monument in Chalmette Cemetery in 1874. It stands on the river side of the cemetery, because that side was the main entrance for years. So, over time, the levee system along the Mississippi River grew, swallowing up River Road near the cemetery.
The National Park Service took over management of both the battlefield and cemetery in 1933. They moved the entrance from the river side to the St. Bernard Highway (LA 46) side. Visitors now enter the cemetery from St. Bernard Highway, circle around the GAR monument at the other end, and exit back to the highway.
The Henry Clay Monument stood on Canal Street from 1860 to 1901.
NOTE: If you see something else interesting on these maps, speak up! Le’ts talk about it.
Henry Clay Monument
A private group raised money to build a monument to American statesmen Henry Clay in 1860. The city approved their plan to erect the monument on Canal Street. They placed it at the three-way intersection of Canal Street, St. Charles Avenue, and Royal Street. The Robinson Atlas of 1883, Plate 6, shows the monument, with the streetcar tracks passing around it.
The Henry Clay monument stood as mapped here until 1895. The New Orleans City Railway Company electrified the Canal Street line that year. The city cut back the massive circular base. This provided the streetcars with a linear path across the intersection. Prior to 1895, mule-drawn streetcars curved around the monument.
Canal Street activity
Activity at the Canal-St. Charles-Royal intersection developed after 1861. The Henry Clay monument rose in the center of Canal Street a year earlier. The streetcar company simply went around the statue, completing the transit to the river. The main activity happens just above and below the intersection. Notice the circles in the center of the Canal Street neutral ground. Those are turntables. If you’ve been out to San Francisco, you may have seen the turntables used to change the direction of cable cars when they reach the end of the line. Before electrification, streetcar companies operated “single-ended” equipment. the mule pulled the streetcar onto the turntable. The operator guided the mule in a circle.
The turntable just below Clay handled “backatown” lines coming up from along the riverfront. Additionally, the turntable on the lake side (see, we really do express directions as “lake” and “river”) handled the streetcars coming to Canal Street from Carondelet, Baronne, Dauphine, Burgundy, and Rampart Streets.
The Clio Street line crossed Canal Street at Bourbon and Royal Streets. So, after passing by the Jackson Depot railroad station, streetcars on Clio made their way down Carondelet Street, crossing Canal, then heading outbound to Elysian Fields. They used Bourbon Street to traverse the Quarter. The line returned to the St. Charles Hotel via Royal Street. The streetcars curved around Henry.
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NOLA History Guy Podcast 01-May-2021 discusses Butler’s goals in New Orleans.
Captain Bailey and Lieutenant Perkins demand the surrender of New Orleans
NOLA History Guy Podcast 01-May-2021
We’re back! Since we’re starting on May 1st, let’s talk about the occupation of New Orleans in 1862.
Consider these goals Butler had when he came to New Orleans
Pacify the city
Union Operations in Louisiana, 1862
Butler used 10,000 of his 15,000 troops to establish a perimeter around the city. He implemented his infamous General Order 28, and limited free speech in 1862.
Expansion of his troops
Louisiana Native Guard Pickets, from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 7, 1863
Butler created the Corps d’Afrique, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Louisiana Native Guards regiments. These troops were mostly Creoles of Color. They belonged to militia units during the secession year.
Re-Open the Port of New Orleans
Union ships at anchor, New Orleans, April 30, 1862
Butler provided food to the working-class and working poor of New Orleans, who were mostly Irish and German immigrants. They re-opened the port and jump-started the economy. Trade with Europe helped keep Britain and France from getting involved in the war.
Dealing with the enslaved.
Slaves For Sale: A Scene In New Orleans
Butler’s “contraband of war” policy, and enslavement in New Orleans.
US Navy Mortar Schooners shattered Fort Jackson in 1862.
US Navy Bomb Vessels
Photo of a bomb vessel of the type that blasted Forts Jackson and St. Phillip on the Mississippi River, 18-23 April, 1862. Captain David Porter commanded twenty-one of these US Navy mortar schooners during the attack. Flag-Officer (later Rear Admiral) David Farragut held overall command of the operation.
The use of “bomb vessels” by naval units was not new. The concept dated back to the 16th century.
Mechanics of mortars
The use of mortars on naval vessels was not much different than their use on land. Mortars shot small bombs into the air at high angles. Those bombs were fuse-activated. So, the gunner prepared the shells. The crew loaded the mortar itself with gunpowder and wads. When given the order to fire, the crew lit the bomb’s fuse and dropped it into the mortar. They touched the fuse-hole, igniting the gun’s powder. The bomb shot up, arced to the target, and exploded when the fuse burned down.
The trick was in the fuses. Cut the fuse too short, the bomb blew up before reaching the target. Cut it too long, and the bomb landed on the target, unexploded. Anyone around the bomb could pull the fuse out and extinguish it.
C. S. Forester wrote a fantastic scene about the siege of Riga, in 1812, in his novel, The Commodore. If mortars interest you, you’ll enjoy that story.
Success at Fort Jackson
Porter learned his bomb fuses on his US Navy mortar schooners were problematic on the first day of bombardment. Many of the bombs exploded in the air, before reaching the fort. To counter this, Porter ordered that fuses not be cut. Many of the bombs landed in and on the fort. The high-water conditions along the Mississippi River made for soggy ground in the fort. So, when the bombs landed, they hit mud and sunk in. This extinguished the fuses. Porter’s vessels fired nearly 7500 bombs. Of those, over a thousand were found in the ground when Union troops entered the fort.
Damage and mutiny
Despite the high number of unexploded bombs, Porter’s attack damaged the fort and demoralized its garrison. Flooding inside the fort presented a challenge for the rebels. If they stayed in the open, they risked injury from the bombs. If they took refuge in the casemates, they were stuck in flooded areas. This contributed to the mutiny of 28-April-1862 by Irish and German troops.
USS Cayuga participated in Farragut’s attack on Forts Jackson and St. Phillip.
An Unadilla-class gunboat, Cayuga was launched on 10-Oct-1861, at Portland, CT. After final fitting-out at the New York Navy Yard, she was commissioned on 21-Feb-1862. Upon commissioning, the Navy ordered Cayuga to Ship Island. The gunboat joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. Flag-Officer (later Rear Admiral) David Farragut commanded that squadron. Cayuga was one of nine Unadilla-class gunboats in the squadron. After the rebel army abandoned New Orleans to Farragut and Butler, Cayuga remained in the squadron, moving north to support operations as Union forces secured the Southern portion of the Mississippi River.
Farragut’s nine Unadilla-class gunboats engaged rebel boats along the river at Forts Jackson and St. Phillip. They were:
The rebel defenders extended chains across the river, from one fort to the other. On 20-April-1862, Farragut ordered three of the Unadillas up the river to clear those chains. They opened a passage on the west side of the river. Farragut moved the rest of his squadron, including Cayuga, up through this opening.
While Porter’s mortar-vessels pounded the forts, Cayuga and the other gunboats blasted a path for the larger ships in the squadron. Cayuga and the other five gunboats that cleared the forts anchored in the river at New Orleans. Their firepower compelled the surrender of the city. So, the gunboats threatened New Orleans with flooding. Their guns could take aim at the city’s levee system. City leaders knew the impact crevasses would have.
Captain Theodorus Bailey held command of Colorado, 19, as part of the West Gulf Blockade Squadron. Bailey and Colorado enjoyed success off the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts in the early months of 1862. He was, however, unable to bring Colorado up the river. While Colorado was a significant asset, the frigate’s draft was too deep. So, Farragut transferred Bailey from Colorado to Cayuga for the attack. Bailey commanded a division of three gunboats. He successfully brought Cayuga into the Port of New Orleans. On 25-April-1862, Farragut ordered Bailey to enter the city. He and Lieutenant George Perkins, USN, went to City Hall, where their surrender demands were rebuffed.
This image appeared in Battles and leaders of the Civil War : being for the most part contributions by Union and Confederate officers, Volume 2, 1887.
Mississippi River defenses in 1862 consisted of Forts Jackson and St. Phillip.
Mississippi River defenses
Library of Congress title: Map showing the defenses of the Mississippi below New Orleans and Farragut’s attack 24 April 1862. This hand-drawn map presents a great deal of detail about Forts Jackson and St. Phillip. Additionally, it displays the positions of Farragut’s ships as they approached Fort Jackson. Robert Knox Sneden drew the map.
Attacking the forts
While the blockade of the Gulf Coast crippled the economy of New Orleans, the forts below the city prevented the Union Navy from moving upriver easily. The Union Navy sent Flag-Officer David Glasgow Farragut, along with Captain David Dixon Porter, to the Gulf. Farragut held overall command. Porter commanded a flotilla of bomb-vessels. Additionally, Major General Benjamin Butler led an Army invasion force from Ship Island to the forts.
Fort Jackson, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, stands below Fort St. Phillip. So, it was the squadron’s first target. Porter’s bomb-vessels approached Fort Jackson. They fired thousands of mortar rounds into the fort. Those mortars wrecked much of the fort. They demoralized the garrison. The assault contributed to the mutiny of Irish and German soldiers in the fort.
Robert Knox Sneden
Sneden created this map after the rebellion. In the Spring of 1862, he served served on the staff of the Union III Corps, under Samuel P. Heintzelman. He was later captured and held at the notorious Andersonville prison camp. In his roles of draftsman and topographical engineer with III Corps, Sneden drew thousands of sketches. After the war, he created watercolor works out of those sketches. While he was not present with Farragut’s squadron, Sneden had the skill to turn the descriptions of others into maps.
This colorized sketch is not a hi-res document. It likely came from a small sketch book.