Today at 3 AM, a Federal fleet under Flag Officer David G. Farragut began to run Forts Jackson and St. Philip, located south of New Orleans. He passed the forts with minimal damage, and in a running fight his ships destroyed most of the defending Confederate ships. This battle determined the fate of the Confederacy’s largest city.
In terms of ships present, it was the largest U.S. naval battle between Valcour Island in 1776 and World War II.
Navy Secretary Gideon Welles also viewed it in superlative terms, as he told Farragut in 1864 after the Battle of Mobile Bay: “Again it is my pleasure and my duty to congratulate you and your brave associates on an achievement unequaled in our service by any other commander and only surpassed by that unparalleled naval triumph of the squadron under your command in the spring of 1862, when proceeding up the Mississippi, you passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and, overcoming all obstructions, captured New Orleans and restored unobstructed navigation to the commercial emporium of the great central valley of the Union.”