The occupation of New Orleans

Farther south, Flag Officer David G.Farragut, commanding the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron, had forced the mouth of the Mississippi; six Marines died and 22 were wounded as his fleet fought its way past Forts St Philip and Jackson to threaten New Orleans. Men from the remainder of the 333-strong Marine battalion at Farragut's disposal played a vital role in the final capture of the "Crescent City." Thirty Marines from the USS Pensacola, under 2nd Lt John C.Harris (nephew of the Marine Commandant) were sent ashore on April 26, 1862. Marching through die hostile crowds to the US Mint, they pulled down the Confederate flag and replaced it with the flag of the Union.

After three further days of unsuccessful surrender negotiations, the remainder of the Marines of Farragut's squadron, augmented by a detachment of sailors with two howitzers, were ordered to land. Commanded by Capt John L.Broome, they made their way along the wide city streets, first to the Customs House, then to the City Hall. Despite being pushed, abused, and spat upon by the angry mob, the Marines maintained their discipline and did not retaliate. At both destinations they raised the national colors and left a Marine Guard. For almost three days Broome's Marines were the sole authority of the US Government in New Orleans, until Gen Benjamin Butler's soldiers arrived and the Army took control of the city. On May 1 the Marines withdrew from New Orleans and returned to die vessels of their squadron.

Marine Corps Commandant John Harris
Posing here in full dress, 1st Lt John Campbell Harris (the nephew of US Marine Commandant Col John Harris) commanded the detachment sent ashore in New Orleans on April 26, 1862, to secure the Mint during the negotiation of the city's surrender. (George Menegaux Collection)

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