of no possible use. B— controverted this, and said that, supposing he were to be cast away upon an uninhabited island, with no other human being but a nursing infant, for which he would have to provide.
In such an emergency, he had no doubt Providence
would furnish, through him, nourishment for the child.”
This he said, remarked the President
, “with as much apparent sincerity as Stanton
showed when he urged a navy composed of canalboats to stop the “Merrimac
I think B—‘s paps to nurse an infant will be as serviceable, and required about as soon, as Stanton
's fleet to fight and keep back an iron frigate.
The preparation for an anticipated emergency, which is about as likely to occur in one case as the other, is very striking.”
related to me this incident, which was afterwards, at his request, repeated by the President
in the presence of others, to the great annoyance of Mr. Stanton
, who never enjoyed the anecdotical humors of the President
if at his expense.
” was, a few days thereafter — on the 10th of May, while the President
and party were at Fortress Monroe
-abandoned and destroyed by the rebels themselves.
The large steamers that had awaited her advent, at an expense of several hundred thousand dollars, were discharged, with the exception of the Vanderbilt
, which remained a white elephant in the hands of the War Department.
Eventually, she was turned over to the navy, that had declined to purchase and did not want her. She was too large for blockade service, but, as she was to be employed, the Navy Department sent her off on an unsuccessful cruise for the “Alabama
,” under a very capable commander, at a cost to the Government
of more than one thousand dollars per day, without result.
The War Department had paid two thousand dollars per day to her owner for her use.
In giving this magnificent vessel to the Government
, Mr. Vanderbilt
performed a magnificent and patriotic act, for which he received and deserved the thanks of Congress; but it was to the Government
a costly present.
The Quartermaster General
, on a call from Congress in 1865, reported that “previous to her presentation to the government,” the War Department had paid for her services three hundred and three thousand five hundred and eighty-nine dollars and ten cents ($303,589.10). The Secretary of the Navy
, on a similar call from Congress in 1868, reported that the Navy Department had expended over four hundred thousand dollars ($400,000) in repairing the Vanderbilt
, and that a further outlay of, at least, half a million dollars would be then required to fit her for service; that she was at Mare Island
, used for berthing and messing the men detailed