Baton Rouge, the state capital of Louisiana, was abandoned after the shock Union seizure of New Orleans in April 1862. General (and former US Vice-President) Breckinridge was mandated to retake it for the Confederacy. An amphibious assault was planned, with a land force of 5,000 men launching their assault on 5 August. The Confederates soon forced their way into town, with the bitterest fighting around Greenwell Springs Road and the Magnolia Cemetery. However, the naval component of the assault failed utterly. Its lynchpin, the ironclad warship Arkansas suffered engine failure and had to be scuttled. As a result, the Union’s gunboats were able to shell the Confederate troops unhindered. Realizing that with such a bombardment any victory would be pyrrhic, Breckinridge abandoned the assault. Union Commander General Williams was killed in the fighting, as was President Lincoln’s brother-in-law – a combatant for the Confederate side.
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