Yet, to Grant's and Farragut's and every other soldier's and sailor's disgust, this worst way of all was chosen; and Banks's forty thousand sorely needed veterans were sent to their double defeat at Sabine Cross Roads and Pleasant Hill on the eighth and ninth of April, while Porter's invaluable fleet and the no less indispensable transports were nearly lost altogether owing to the long-foretold fall of the dangerous Red River.
He had printed in a Hartford paper a very felicitous versification of Farragut's 'General Orders' in the fight at the mouth of the Mississippi. This attracted Farragut's attention, and he took steps to learn the name of the author. Brownell the position of master's-mate on board the Hartford, and attached the poet to him in the character of a private secretary.
This left Vicksburg as the single barrier to the complete opening of the Mississippi, and that barrier was defended by only six batteries and a garrison of six Confederate regiments at the date of Farragut's arrival before it.
Ninety miles above them stood New Orleans, to which they gave protection and from which they drew all their supplies. The result of a conference at Washington was an order from Welles to "reduce the defenses which guard the approaches to New Orleans." But Farragut's own infinitely better plan was to run past the forts and take New Orleans first.
On the following day, June 25th, a detachment of the 4th Wisconsin, sent up the river overland by Colonel Paine, succeeded in establishing a second communication with the Monarch, believing it to be the first. Farragut's fleet, now anchored below Vicksburg, comprised the flagship Hartford, the sloops-of-war Brooklyn and Richmond, the corvettes Iroquois and Oneida, and six gunboats.
The other three had been on hand since the 1st, anchored under the shelter of Sand Island, three miles from Fort Morgan. To Farragut's great mortification he was unable to carry out his part of the programme; but on the evening of the 4th the Tecumseh arrived, together with the Richmond, which had been for a few days at Pensacola preparing for the fight.
An immortal phrase, this simple dictum of first mate Hudson of the Betsy, "Out she goes, or down she goes," and not unworthy of being mentioned in the same breath with Farragut's "Damn the torpedoes."
Fox told him more vessels would be added, and that he would command the expedition. Farragut's delight and enthusiasm were so great that when he left us Fox asked if I did not think he was too enthusiastic. He said, however, frankly, that had he been previously consulted, he would have advised against the employment of the mortar flotilla.
Within a year of the first Bull Run, Farragut's squadron had fought its way from the mouth of the Mississippi to Vicksburg. That the extreme position was not held was not the fault of the ships, but of backwardness in other undertakings of the nation.
In December, 1829, Farragut's eyes were in such bad condition that it was found necessary to send him home. He arrived in February, 1830, and remained in Norfolk for a period of nearly three years, broken only by occasional absences.