What if the New Orleans ironclads had been finished?

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
In early 1862, General Mansfield Lovell and Flag Officer George N. Hollins were greatly concerned for the defenses of New Orleans. The majority of troops and guns had been sent away, leaving the forts undermanned and undergunned. Hollins wrote to Richmond, pleading for permission to attack Farragut's ships. Evidently he was so insistent the government effectively removed him from active service, probably to shut him up. Of course, they were proven right when Farragut ran the forts and then took the city.

At the time of the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the Confederacy had two large ironclads under construction at New Orleans, the Louisiana and the Mississippi. What if the government had listened to Hollins and managed to spare the resources to finish the ships?

Had they been completed, it seems very likely Farragut would learn of it not long after. Surely Farragut would not risk his fleet against two large ironclads?
 

Polloco

Captain
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
What exactly did Richmond think that Hollins did or didn't do? Lovell was cleared by a court of inquiry, that should have showed the authoritys that the blame was not the fault of the men in charge of the defense of New Orleans. Wasn't Hollins given the advantage of a court of inquiry?
 

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
What exactly did Richmond think that Hollins did or didn't do? Lovell was cleared by a court of inquiry, that should have showed the authoritys that the blame was not the fault of the men in charge of the defense of New Orleans. Wasn't Hollins given the advantage of a court of inquiry?
To answer your question, Hollins didn't do anything, because he wasn't present.

From what I can tell, Hollins was called to Richmond before the battle to serve on a naval examination board. Of course, this may have partially been a plan to get him out of the way. Unfortunately, this left three separate naval commanders each in charge of their own respective fleets, with no clear idea of exactly who was in overall command.
 

jack1492

Corporal
Joined
May 9, 2014
Location
Sunny South
In early 1862, General Mansfield Lovell and Flag Officer George N. Hollins were greatly concerned for the defenses of New Orleans. The majority of troops and guns had been sent away, leaving the forts undermanned and undergunned. Hollins wrote to Richmond, pleading for permission to attack Farragut's ships. Evidently he was so insistent the government effectively removed him from active service, probably to shut him up. Of course, they were proven right when Farragut ran the forts and then took the city.

At the time of the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the Confederacy had two large ironclads under construction at New Orleans, the Louisiana and the Mississippi. What if the government had listened to Hollins and managed to spare the resources to finish the ships?

Had they been completed, it seems very likely Farragut would learn of it not long after. Surely Farragut would not risk his fleet against two large ironclads?
I have not really studied the fighting at New Orleans much but I concluded N. O. could not be defended because of the strength of the Union Navy who could just float right in and the lack of hills and bluffs as are up river around Port Hudson, Vicksburg and elsewhere. Then throw in the lack of adequate Reb troops there and all was lost before it started. New Orleans, though was a great loss but there were many important cities lost in 1862 in the Western Theater.
 

Poorville

Corporal
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
In early 1862, General Mansfield Lovell and Flag Officer George N. Hollins were greatly concerned for the defenses of New Orleans. The majority of troops and guns had been sent away, leaving the forts undermanned and undergunned. Hollins wrote to Richmond, pleading for permission to attack Farragut's ships. Evidently he was so insistent the government effectively removed him from active service, probably to shut him up. Of course, they were proven right when Farragut ran the forts and then took the city.

At the time of the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the Confederacy had two large ironclads under construction at New Orleans, the Louisiana and the Mississippi. What if the government had listened to Hollins and managed to spare the resources to finish the ships?

Had they been completed, it seems very likely Farragut would learn of it not long after. Surely Farragut would not risk his fleet against two large ironclads?

I tend to agree with Dwight Hughes' analysis, writing in Emerging Civil War where he concludes that:
“Had the two ironclads been fully ready for battle, Farragut would have had more difficulty taking New Orleans, but it is doubtful they could have stopped him. Although the huge, heavy vessels were almost impregnable and armed with powerful batteries, they were grossly underpowered and hardly maneuverable in the swiftly flowing river. Farragut could have bypassed them or surrounded and battered them into submission as he did the formidable CSS Tennessee in Mobile Bay in August 1864.”

Poorville
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
Flag Officer George N. Hollins tenure of command could potentially have included ironclads before CSS Louisiana and CSS Mississippi were commenced. On 10th August 1861 Hollins authorised the "Diamond & Bisby" ironclad to drawings by Naval Architect W. T Smith (see my article "the Sardinian Connection"). Construction would probably have been in one of Hughes Shipyards. He of course already had CSS Manassas after it's seizure from Stevenson. By the time the Diamond & Bisby vessel, John Roy's 5 /6 vessels and the later two ironclads could have been ready the aggressive and energetic George Hollins had first been sent up the Mississippi in December 1861, then replaced at New Orleans by Cdr Mitchell, a somewhat ineffectual individual.
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
I tend to agree with Dwight Hughes' analysis, writing in Emerging Civil War where he concludes that:
“Had the two ironclads been fully ready for battle, Farragut would have had more difficulty taking New Orleans, but it is doubtful they could have stopped him. Although the huge, heavy vessels were almost impregnable and armed with powerful batteries, they were grossly underpowered and hardly maneuverable in the swiftly flowing river. Farragut could have bypassed them or surrounded and battered them into submission as he did the formidable CSS Tennessee in Mobile Bay in August 1864.”

Poorville
CSS Loiusiana had a defective machinery installation , but CSS Mississippi most certainly did not. Her engines and machinery being specifically being designed for her by CSN Chief Engineer James H Warner and installation supervised by CSN Engineer E. M. Ivens.
 

jack1492

Corporal
Joined
May 9, 2014
Location
Sunny South
I tend to agree with Dwight Hughes' analysis, writing in Emerging Civil War where he concludes that:
“Had the two ironclads been fully ready for battle, Farragut would have had more difficulty taking New Orleans, but it is doubtful they could have stopped him. Although the huge, heavy vessels were almost impregnable and armed with powerful batteries, they were grossly underpowered and hardly maneuverable in the swiftly flowing river. Farragut could have bypassed them or surrounded and battered them into submission as he did the formidable CSS Tennessee in Mobile Bay in August 1864.”

Poorville
I agree with this too. I personally don't really like to get into the "If" this or that happened, etc.
 

Poorville

Corporal
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
CSS Loiusiana had a defective machinery installation , but CSS Mississippi most certainly did not. Her engines and machinery being specifically being designed for her by CSN Chief Engineer James H Warner and installation supervised by CSN Engineer E. M. Ivens.

Hi rebelatsea thanks for that, would you be able to point me n the direction of something I could read regarding the design/construction of the CSS Mississippi? I’m particularly interested in the roles of Warner and Ivens who are both new to me.
Many thanks
Poorville
 

rebelatsea

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
Hi rebelatsea thanks for that, would you be able to point me n the direction of something I could read regarding the design/construction of the CSS Mississippi? I’m particularly interested in the roles of Warner and Ivens who are both new to me.
Many thanks
Poorville
There is a series of threads in the naval forum, and if you want you could purchase my book "The Southern Iron Navy" available as a downloadable PDF from Wargamesvault.com. It's under the working title of "Ironclads and Iron Protected Vessels of the Confederate States Navy, 1861 -1865. "
 

Poorville

Corporal
Joined
Jun 21, 2019
There is a series of threads in the naval forum, and if you want you could purchase my book "The Southern Iron Navy" available as a downloadable PDF from Wargamesvault.com. It's under the working title of "Ironclads and Iron Protected Vessels of the Confederate States Navy, 1861 -1865. "
Thanks rebelatsea I have done as you suggested within the Naval forum but have been unable to locate any source information regarding the extent of Messrs Warner and Ivens involvement with the CSS Mississippi. Perhaps my use of the search facility isn’t what it should be. Poorville
 

OldReliable1862

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 2, 2017
Location
Georgia
While I readily acknowledge that Confederate ironclads often had reliability issues, I fear we may not be giving the New Orleans ironclads enough credit. Farragut and Halleck certainly took them seriously, and it had a great deal to do with when they launched the naval attack on New Orleans.
 

mofederal

Captain
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Location
Southeast Missouri
Here is an image of the New Orleans. Probably a model. It is always helpful to see what we are talking about.

th (4)neworleans.jpg
 

Pete Longstreet

First Sergeant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Location
Hartford, CT
For sure if the Mississippi and Louisiana had been completed prior, it would have made Farragut's voyage much more difficult. Not to discredit what Farragut and his fleet accomplished, but there was a few reasons along with the uncompleted Confederate vessels. The raft that was supposed to entangle the ships as they were passing by the forts was not reinforced and did not perform the way it should have. Also, according to reports, the Confederates didn't have the ability to light up the waters... so by the time they spotted Farragut's fleet in the darkness, they were already in front of, or going past the forts, which cost the Confederates value firing time.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Since Farragut attacked the forts before the ironclads were ready, the sound deduction is that he thought they create a significant problem and severely reduce his fleet's chances of success.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
One should recall that there were about 10,000 free African/Americans in New Orleans alone. And there were many fmr Whigs in Louisiana, especially among the sugar producers, who did not support secession.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
New Orleans, by 1860, was a very wealthy place. People paid free labor about $3/month in premium wages, and slave prices were high. Banks were making money and interest rates were high. I don't know why interest rates were high, but I suspect there were abundant business ventures that could pay the high rates and still make profits.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The British had tried to capture New Orleans in 1814, but they failed because they did not have steam powered vessels. New Orleans had once been a French colonial city. It was one of the few places in the Confederacy that people in London and Paris had heard of.
 
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