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[649]

The London Daily News says:

The Kearsarge is spoken of as being iron-clad ; she was no more iron-clad than the Alabama might have been, had they taken the precaution. She simply had a double row of chains hanging over her sides to protect her machinery. Two shots from the Alabama struck these chains, and fell harmlessly into the water.

Of the crew of the Alabama, 65 were picked up by the Kearsarge as prisoners; while Capt. Semmes and his officers and men who were picked up and carried off by Lancaster, with a few picked up by a French vessel in attendance, were also claimed as rightful prisoners of war; but they denied the justice of the claim, and were not surrendered.

The steady increase of our naval force, and our successful combined operations in Pamlico and Albemarle sounds; before Charleston, Savannah, and among the Sea Islands; up the months of the Mississippi; along the coasts of Florida; and at the mouth of the Rio Grande, had gradually closed up the harbors of the Confederacy, until, by the Spring of 1864, their blockade-runners were substantially restricted to a choice of two ports-Wilmington, N. C., and Mobile — where the character of the approaches and the formidable forts that still forbade access by our blockaders to the entrance of their respective harbors, still enabled skillfully-piloted steamers, carefully built in British yards expressly for this service, to steal in and out on moonless, clouded, or foggy nights; not without risk and occasional loss, but with reasonable impunity. To close these eyes of the Rebellion was now the care of the Navy Department; and it was resolved to commence with Mobile — the double entrance to whose spacious bay was defended by Forts Morgan and Powell on either hand, and by Fort Gaines on Dauphine island, which( separates Grant's pass from the main channel. Beside the heavy guns and large garrisons of these forts, there was a considerable fleet, commanded by Franklin Buchanan, sole Rebel Admiral, and formerly a captain in our Navy, whose iron-clad Tennessee, 209 feet long, 48 feet beam, with timber sides 8 feet thick, doubly plated with 2-inch iron, fitted with tower, beak and overhang, and mounting two 7-inch and four 6-inch rifled guns, throwing projectiles respectively of 110 and 95 pounds, propelled by two engines and four boilers, was probably as effective a craft for harbor defense as fleet ever yet encountered. Her three consorts were ordinary gunboats of no, particular force; but when to these forts and vessels are added the vague terrors and real dangers of torpedoes, carefully constructed and planted in a channel where it is scarcely possible for attacking vessels to avoid them, it must be felt that the fleet, however strong, which defies and assails them, can only hope to succeed by the rarest exhibitions alike of skill and courage. Ten years had not elapsed since the immense naval power of Great Britain, wielded by a Napier, recoiled before the defenses of Cronstadt; while no attempt was made on the fortifications of Odessa.

The fleet which Rear-Admiral Farragut led1 to force its way into the bay of Mobile was composed of 4 iron-clads and 14 wooden ships-of-war or gunboats, as follows:

1 Aug. 5, 1864.

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Raphael Semmes (1)
Lancaster (1)
Ulysses S. Grant (1)
D. G. Farragut (1)
Franklin Buchanan (1)
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