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[284] officer of the deck, taking care of signals and other movements in the harbor. Boatswains' mates are assistants to the boatswain, and the medium through which the officers' orders are communicated to the crew. The gunners' mates and quarter-gunners have the guns and all their paraphernalia under their especial charge; to each gun-deck there is a gunner's mate, and a quarter-gunner to each division. The crew proper is divided primarily into two watches, starboard and port watch; and secondarily into subdivisions which in the old days were entitled forecastlemen, foretopmen, maintopmen, mizzentopmen, afterguard, and waisters.

The ship's guns were divided into divisions, each generally under command of a lieutenant, assisted by a midshipman, and to each gun was assigned a crew that, in the muzzle-loading days, was made up of (for the heavier guns) one captain, one second captain, two loaders, two rammers and spongers, four side-tacklemen, five train-tacklemen, and a powder-boy--sixteen in all. Their names indicate distinctly their positions at the gun in action.

On board the faster vessels which acted as scouts on the outer line of the blockading squadrons, things often reached a pitch of great excitement. The appearance of low-lying, black lines of smoke against the horizon late in the afternoon was a sure precursor of the dash of a runner, either to make port or to reach shoal water along the beach — anyhow, to get through if possible. Rich as were the hauls, however, when the vessel was captured, they did not begin to compare in value with those taken from outward-bound blockade-runners loaded with cotton. Some of the blockading vessels had once been in the very business themselves, and there are instances of chases lasting fifty-six hours before the runner either escaped or was brought to, with most of her cargo jettisoned. In 1863, one noted blockade-runner loaded to the gunwales with cotton, brought as prize-money to the captain of the vessel that captured her twenty thousand dollars, and even the cabin-boys

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1863 AD (1)
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