Reprinted in Frank Moore, ed., The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, Etc. (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1862), IV: 524.
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
City Hall, April 26, 1862.
Flag- Officer D. G. Farragut, U. S. Flag-Ship Hartford:
In pursuance of a resolution which we thought proper to take, out of regard for the lives of the women and children who still crowd this great metropolis, Gen. Lovell has evacuated it, with his troops, and restored to me the administration of its government and the custody of its honor.
I have, in council with the city fathers, considered the demand you made of me yesterday, for an unconditional surrender of the city, coupled with a requisition to hoist the flag of the United States on the public edifices, and haul down the flag that still floats upon the breeze from the dome of this Hall. It becomes my duty to transmit to you an answer, which is the universal sentiment of my constituents no less than the prompting my own heart dictates to me on this sad and solemn occasion.
The city is without the means of defence, and is utterly destitute of the force and material that might onable it to resist an overpowering armament displayed in sight of it I am no military man, and possess no authority beyond that of executing the municipal laws of the city of NewOrleans. It would be presumptuous in me to attempt to lead an army into the field, if I had one at command; and I know still less how to surrender an undefended place, held, as this is, at the merci of your gunners and your mortars. To surrender such a place were an idle and unmeaning ceremony. The city is yours by the power of brutal force, not by my choice, or consent of its inhabitants. It is for you to determine what will be the fate that awaits us here. As to hoisting any flag other than the flag of our own adoption and allegiance, let me say to you that the man lives not in our midst whose hand and heart would not be paralyzed at the mere thought of such an act; nor could I find in my entire constituency so wretched and desperate a renegade as would dare to profane with his hand the sacred emblem of our aspirations. Sir, you have manifested sentiments which would become one engaged in a better cause than that to which you have devoted your sword. I doubt not but that they spring from a noble though deluded nature, and I know how to appreciate the emotions which inspired them. You have a gallant people to administrate over during your occupancy of this city — a people sensitive to all that can in the least affect their dignity and self-respect Pray, sir, do not fail to regard their susceptibilities. The obligations which I shall assume in their name shall be religiously complied with. You may trust their honor, though you might not count on their submission to unmerited wrong.
In conclusion, I beg you to understand that the people of New-Orleans, while unable to resist your force, do not allow themselves to be insulted by the interference of such as have rendered themselves odious and contemptible by their dastardly desertion of our cause in the mighty struggle in which we are engaged, or such as might remind them too powerfully that they are the conquered, and you the conquerors. Peace and order may be preserved without resort to measures which I could not at this moment prevent. Your occupying the city does not transfer allegiance from the government of their choice to one which they have deliberately repudiated, and they yield the obedience which the conqueror is entitled to extort from the conquered.
John T. Monroe,