Fort Jackson Bombardment 1862

Fort Jackson Bombardment 1862

Fort Jackson Bombardment by Farragut’s squadrons took place in April 1862.

fort jackson bombardment

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Fort Jackson Bombardment

The title of this map is, “Plan of Fort Jackson, showing the effect of the bombardment by the U.S. mortar flotilla and gunboats, April 18th to 24th 1862 : flag officer D.G. Farragut commanding fleet, Com. D.D. Porter commanding flotilla.” This map displays the aftermath of several hellish days and nights of cannon shot and mortar bombing on the fort. The Union Navy delivered strong blows. Two rebel battalions, one Irish, one German, mutinied. They walked out of the fort and surrendered to Butler’s invasion force.

The map shows the fort oriented towards the north. The Mississippi River barely appears here at the top of the image. Fort Jackson stands (to this day) on the west bank of the river in Plaquemines Parish.

Map details

J. S. Harris surveyed the Fort Jackson Bombardment in the days after the assault. Farragut’s advance to the Port of New Orleans led to the city’s surrender. Butler and his force occupied the city by 1-May-1862. While there is no specific date on this map, the survey likely took place after 1-May. The comments speak to the intensity of the attack:

All the scows and boats near the fort except 3 small ones were sunk. The drawbridge, hot shot furnaces, and fresh water cisterns were destroyed. The floors of the casemates were flooded, the levee having been broken. All of the platforms for pitching tents on were destroyed by fire or shells. All the casemates were cracked (the roof in some places being entirely broken through) and masses of brick dislodged in numerous instances. The outer walls of the fort were cracked from top to bottom, admitting daylight freely.

4 guns were dismounted 11 carriages and 30 beds and traverses injured.
1113 mortar shells and 87 round shot were counted in the solid ground of the fort and levees.
3339 mortar shells were computed to have fallen in the ditches and the overflowed parts of the defences.
1080 shells exploded in the air over the fort.
7500 bombs were fired.

We’re going to have to do a full long-form article on just how exstensive this damage is. It comes as no surprise that the Irish and Germans who survived this walked out.



New Orleans Militia Officer by Waud

New Orleans Militia Officer by Waud

New Orleans Militia Officer in 1862 by William Waud.

new orleans militia officer

New Orleans Militia Officer

Illustrator William Waud offers detail on the uniform of this militia officer. The handwritten inscription says: “Light blue cap + frock; grey pants white crossbelts; other troops in grey; artillery grey red facings.” This level of detail should help pinpoint which regiment this officer joined.

Militia Units in 1862

The Library of Congress (LOC) record for this image dates it as between 1862 and 1865. Since the Union Army occupied New Orleans on 1-May-1862, this drawing predates Butler.

Most local militia units formed in 1861, after Louisiana seceded. They organized as local defense. Their charters included provisions that the units could not be removed from Orleans Parish. If a rebel commander like Mansfield Lovell wanted to send these troops north of the city, he could only ask for volunteers to resign from their units. The soldiers would then join regular rebel units and march to war.

The militia organizers wrote this language deliberately. These units drilled once or twice a week. They went about their civilian lives the rest of the time. They paraded through the streets of New Orleans several times during 1861 and early 1862. Officers with financial means purchased quality uniforms from local tailors. They wore them with pride at various public functions.

Identifying this militia

Waud provides a good bit of data that can be used to identify this New Orleans militia officer. The light blue cap rules out the Washington Artillery, the best-known military unit in the city at the time. The Washington Artillery wore red caps. Additionally, the enlisted and NCO ranks wore all grey. This fit the pattern of officers buying better-quality uniforms.

After the occupation

The units like the one this New Orleans militia officer represented disbanded when Butler took control of the city. While some men joined the Union Army, most went back to work, re-opening the port and the city’s economy.

Southern Rebellion Irish – NOLA History Guy Podcast

Southern Rebellion Irish – NOLA History Guy Podcast

Southern Rebellion Irish – talking about the Irish socially in Antebellum New Orleans

Southern Rebellion Irish

Stained glass window in St. Alphonsus Church, the “Irish church” in the Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans

Southern Rebellion Irish

While a number of Irish families in New Orleans rose to the upper levels of society by the Southern Rebellion, those in the city who wanted to maintain an economy based on enslaved African labor did not accept newer Irish immigrants as equals. They didn’t mind the Irish taking jobs they didn’t want to do, in the army, doing labor such as working to build the New Canal, and working on the riverfront. By 1860, the Know-Nothings (yes, that was a real party and political movement) pushed immigrants away to the point where the Irish felt strong Unionist sentiments.

Southern Rebellion Irish

The Rogue’s March by Peter F. Stevens

The Irish immigrants felt the resentment of the WASPs in the United States antebellum most in the Army. WASP officers commanding units during the Mexican War treated immigrants horribly. This led to a large desertion. Hundreds of Irish soldiers crossing the Rio Grande river joining the Mexican Army. The book, The Rogue’s March: John Riley and the St. Patrick’s Battalion, 1846-48, details the history of the “St. Patrick’s Battalion” of the Mexican Army in 1847-48. While life in the Army improved overall by the Southern Rebellion, the rebels still treated the Irish on their side poorly.

Not just the Irish

As the Irish community in New Orleans grew from downtown, along the riverfront to further uptown, German immigrants settled in the same area. What we call the “Irish Channel” was home to a large German community. These Germans were mostly Rheinlanders and Bavarians, who were Catholic, like the Irish. They formed the core of the “Redemptorist” parish, worshipping at St. Mary’s Assumption Church on Constance and Josephine Streets. So, by the time of the Southern Rebellion, both the Irish and German communities were more supportive of the Union than the Confederacy.

Defending the City

southern rebellion irish

Mutiny at Fort Jackson by Michael D. Pierson

So, these immigrants lost their jobs with the closure of the Port of New Orleans in 1861. To provide their families, they joined the rebel army. While many were sent off to fight in Tennessee and Virginia, others stayed behind, to defend Forts Jackson and St. Phillip, down the river from the city. At the time of Farragut’s capture of New Orleans in April, 1862, Fort Jackson’s defenders included three battalions: one Irish, one German, and one made up largely of men from the white planter class. It should come as no surprise that two of those three units mutinied and walked out of the fort, making it easier for Farragut to come up the river and Butler to bring his occupying army behind the ships. For more reading on this, check out Mutiny at Fort Jackson: The Untold Story of the Fall of New Orleans, by Michael D. Pierson.

Reading on the Irish.

southern rebellion irish

The Irish in New Orleans by Laura D. Kelly.

If this topic interests you, you definitely want to get Dr. Laura Kelly’s book, The Irish In New Orleans.

Closing Time during the Southern Rebellion 1864

Closing Time during the Southern Rebellion 1864

Closing time severely restricted New Orleans businesses.

closing time

Petition to extend the opening hours of businesses in New Orleans during the Union occupation. (Tulane University Library)

Closing Time 1864

Last week, during the CFP National Championship game, some guy on Da Twittah complained that the game was too long. He said folks at the game wouldn’t get out until after closing time in New Orleans.

The Twitterati of New Orleans, bless their hearts, dragged the guy mercilessily. After all, “closing time” is pretty much a foreign concept here. The tweeter lacked understanding of how things work in New Orleans.

9 O’clock!

We-never-close was not always business as usual in New Orleans. Establishments closed at midnight, prior to the Southern Rebellion. The Union Army restricted many public places, ordering them to close at 9pm.

Nine o’clock in New Orleans! The horror! The rebellion came to an abrupt halt, when the Union Army occupied the city in May, 1862. New Orleans chafed under occupation in many ways. Still, life in the city improved significantly when the port re-opened. Two years into the occupation, restauranteurs and hoteliers desired a later closing time. They wrote to the Acting Mayor, Army Captain Stephen Holt, with their request.

Petition to Acting Mayor Holt

New Orleans July 14, 1864

To Capt S. Holt, Acting Mayor

We, the undersigned Subscribers, Citizens and Proprietors of Hotels, Restaurants, and drinking houses, most respectfully ask your honor to remove the order requiring us to close our business places at 9 o’clock.

We ask to have the time of closing extended, as usual until 12 o’clock.

Places of Amusement not closing until after 11 o’clock, we think in justice to us we should have the old time custom.

(14 signatories)

New Orleans Entertainment

The list contains an interesting cross-section of New Orleans businesses. It’s not just drinking houses. The number of hotels indicates that the port brought in visitors to the city, in spite of the conflict.

It’s unclear if the acting mayor agreed to the extension.

If you’d like to learn/share more about New Orleans in the 1860s, check out our Facebook page on the subject.



Streetcar Ticket – New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad 1868

Streetcar Ticket – New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad 1868

Streetcar Ticket for the St. Charles Line

Streetcar ticket

New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad Company streetcar ticket, 1868. (public domain image)

Streetcar Ticket from 1868

Riders paid for their fare in the 1860s by purchasing a streetcar ticket. This was the style of the ticket for the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad Company (NO&CRR) in 1868. While the NO&CRR continued operations through the Southern Rebellion, only one new company the New Orleans City RR Company (NOCRR) operated streetcars during the rebellion years. Streetcar expansion took off in 1866.


The company operated the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line, from 1835 to 1902. In addition to St. Charles, the company operated the Poydras-Magazine, Jackson, and Napoleon lines. The NO&CRR absorbed other operating companies throughout the 1870s to the end of the 19th Century.

Streetcar electrification in New Orleans began in the 1890s. The NO&CRR survived until 1902. The remaining operating companies merged into the New Orleans Railway Company at that time. That company re-organized into the New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) in 1905. That consolidated entity became New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) in 1922.

Mule car operation

When the NO&CRR began operations in 1835, St. Charles used steam engines. The smoke and noise generated complaints up and down the line. So, the line was converted to mule-driven operation in the 1850s. The company followed the NOCRR in the 1860s, operating “bobtail” cars from the Johnson Car Company, up to electrification.

Streetcar protests 1862-1867

Streetcars in New Orleans were segregated until 1958. When Louisiana seceded from the union in 1861, many of the white men went off to war. Their jobs around town still had to be done. So, employers hired free men of color. The lines ran “star” cars, which permitted African-Americans to ride, but all other cars were whites-only. Black men experienced difficulty in getting to work. While employers complained to the transit companies, the operators weren’t very responsive. More “star” cars were needed.

The dynamics changed when the Union Army occupied New Orleans in May, 1862. African-Americans protested segregated operation from then until 1867. Hilary McLaughlin-Stonham details those protests in her article, Race and Protest in New Orleans: Streetcar Integration in the Nineteenth Century. It’s worth a read.