In no profession or calling has tradition so strong a hold as it has upon the sailor.
In the middle of the nineteenth century he was hemmed in by it. It molded his mind, governed his actions, and in the regular navy it produced a type whose language, appearance, and even gait were indigenous to the sea, the ship, and the service.
The traditions died only when the type itself expired.
Although the Civil War
marked a changing period from sail to steam, tradition survived long afterward, and during the war itself sailors were awkwardly adapting themselves to surroundings and methods that were being forced upon them.
It was so with both officers and men. Of the former.
many were too old to learn the new lessons.
The enlisted man who had survived the sailing days lacked also two essential qualifications for the modern sailor: the first was education; the second, adaptability.
Innovations were a bugbear to him; he fought progress and invention with all his might.
Just as the introduction of gunpowder changed the manner and methods of land fighting, so did the introduction of steam into ships revolutionize the fighting tactics of navies.
But it was a long time before steam and the marine engine came to be regarded as more than an auxiliary factor in shipbuilding.
The navy of the Civil War
was recruited from all sorts and conditions of men. The real sailor was in the minority.
Nearly two-thirds of the men who fought were rated as landsmen, and although they became good gunners, few progressed higher than ordinary seamen.
The old “A B's” of the elder service were graduated to petty officers, and of the commissioned volunteers whose acting ranks during the war were those of masters and