laid up at various dockyards awaiting repairs of a more or less extended nature.
Of the forty-two ships that could be made ready for duty, the majority were steam-propelled vessels of the latest improved types.
The United States
had been one of the first world-powers to realize the value of steam as an auxiliary to sail.
In the twenty years previous to the opening of the Civil War
, practically a new navy had been constructed, ranking in efficiency third only to those of England
There were many of the older vessels included in the active list, and some still in commission that bore historic names and had seen service in the War
They had been the floating schools for heroes, and were once more called to serve their turn.
The newer ships comprised a noble list.
Within five years previous to the outbreak of hostilities, the magnificent steam frigates Merrimac
, and Roanoke
had been built, and the fine steam sloops-of-war Hartford, Brooklyn, Lancaster, Richmond, Pensacola, Pawnee, Michigan, Narragansett, Dacotah, Iroquois, Wyoming
, and Seminole
had been placed in commission.
These ships were of the highest developed type of construction and compared favorably at that time with any war vessels in the world.
Summing up the serviceable navy, we find that it consisted of two sailing frigates, eleven sailing sloops, one screw frigate, five screw sloops of the first class, three side-wheel steamers, eight screw sloops of the second class, and five screw sloops of the third class.
Available, but laid up in various yards, were other vessels, including eighteen propelled by sail alone, five screw frigates, one screw sloop, and three or four side-wheel steamers.
Yet, in spite of all this showing, at the opening of the year 1861 there was presented to the Nation a remarkable condition of affairs — a condition that it is almost unbelievable that it should have existed.
The country stood aghast at its own unpreparedness.
There were but two ships available to guard the entire Atlantic coast!