Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher, NE Bastion. Frank Vizetelly (National Geographic)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Quite the Accomplishment: Getting Porter's Ships Over the Dam-- Part 1

MAY 2ND-9TH, 1864:  Colonel Bailey and his Maine and New York regiments succeeded, after eight days of gruelling work, in nearly completing the dam across the Red River at Alexandria, Louisiana, and hopes rose that Porter would be able to save his Mississippi River Squadron, marooned above the rapids.

On May 9th,  two of the stone-filled barges which had been sunk as parts of the dam gave way to the increasing pressure of the backed-up water.  These barges, however, swung into position such that they formed a chute over the rapids and Porter quickly ordered his lighter draft vessels to attempt a passage through the gap.

As the water was falling, ironclads Osage and Neosho and wooden steamers Fort Hindman and Lexington careened over the rapids with little damage.

That was some of his ships however.  One has to wonder had the dam plan not come up or worked, and the fleet had to be destroyed, would Porter have received command of the Fort Fisher expedition.  And then, there was Thomas O. Selfridge, commanding the USS Osage who had to be wondering, "What if I lose another ship?"  At least it did not begin with the letter "c."

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