History with Mark BielskiHISTORY WITH MARK BIELSKI

Tune into the History with Mark Bielski podcast each week, to hear me discuss history from ancient to modern times with experts in their fields of study, with special attention to the Civil War and WWII. We leave the textbooks behind and delve into the characters, backstories and often the intrigues that drove events throughout history.

We all know there was a war and who was president, but what about the spies, the intrigues, the deceptions and the backstories? What about learning about the occasional farcical or comedic decisions made by serious figures and their sometime tragic results?

By telling the untold tales of our past, my guests and I are committed to making history come alive for future generations. LISTEN NOW >>


New Orleans fell to the Union on April 29, 1862. As we approach the anniversary of this historic moment, Mark takes a comparative look at developments leading up to the Civil War and the importance of the city of New Orleans to the Confederacy.

These episodes of History with Mark Bielski provide a great background for his new book, A Mortal Blow to the Confederacy: The Fall of New Orleans, 1862. Tune in!

Civil War: New Orleans Prepares

Civil War Louisiana TigersIn 1861, the City of New Orleans prepared for an imminent invasion by Union forces. As crisis loomed, leadership, politics and military shortcomings became evident. A bright spot is the Confederate victory at Manassas in Virginia, where native-son P.G.T. Beauregard leads the army and the Louisiana boys show prowess and prove their mettle.

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Civil War New Orleans: Prelude to Conflict

The Fall of New Orleans

The fall of New Orleans

At the beginning of the Civil War, New Orleans was the largest exporting port in the world. New York was the greater of the two city ports in general, but New Orleans sent the most product abroad. Chief among these, at least in terms of financial importance, was cotton. If the Union could interdict shipping to and from New Orleans, it would be a great, perhaps mortal, blow to the Confederate economy. If the Union could cripple the economy of the seceding states, it would win the economic war. If preserving the Union was the ultimate goal, then defeating the South economically was the first part of the equation. The second part, achieving military victory would follow. Another factor was the morale of the people, which came later, but military thought in the North focused on the tactics and strategies that would break the South’s economy and shatter its armies.

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Civil War New Orleans

General Mansfield LovellGeneral Mansfield Lovell assumes military command of New Orleans and begins to shore up the defenses. He affirms that the threat will come upriver from the Gulf of Mexico, despite Richmond’s insistence that he transfer men and boats north. Construction begins on two super CSA gunboats, the Louisiana and Mississippi, said to surpass anything the Union had.

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Civil War: The Fall of New Orleans

Fort Jackson BombardmentMark discusses the Union bombardment of Forts Jackson and St. Philip by David Dixon Porter’s mortar boats. The rest of the Union fleet under David Farragut is able to steam past the forts. After a duel with the few effective Confederate gunboats in action, they reach New Orleans and demand the city’s surrender on April 26, 1862.

Civil War: The Fall of New Orleans >>