James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
Potomac, whom McClellan designated to represent him in the adjustment of the details, agreed emphatically with Porters suggestion, writing, To pass these works merely with a fleet and appear before New Orleans is a raid, no capture.1 In spite of his high opinion of Porter, Fox stuck to his original plan and thus the matter stood when the commander of the expedition was decided upon. Welles and Fox selected Farragut for the command, basing their choice on Porters knowledge of the man due to an intimate personal acquaintance from his youth up. Farragut was summoned to Washington, where he learned from Fox the object of the expedition, the number of vessels he should command and the plan of attack. He entered into the affair with enthusiasm, had no doubt that the fleet could run by the forts, but had little faith in the bombardment by the mortar flotilla, which would occasion delay, but, as it seemed to have been decided upon, he was willing to give it a trial. I expect, he said, to restore New Orleans to the Government or never come back.2 Welless letter of instructions was far from possessing the definiteness of Foxs verbal explanation to Farragut; it stated in a general way that he should reduce the defenses which guard the approaches to New Orleans before he should appear off that city.3
While at Ship Island, the base of operations, about a hundred miles from the mouth of the Mississippi, Farragut wrote to Welles that the capture of Donelson and the surrender of Nashville had caused fear and demoralization in New Orleans. There could not be a better time, he added for the blow to be struck by us and you may depend upon its being done the moment the mortar boats arrive.4