|From the merchant marine — the “Fort Jackson” Here the U. S. S. “Fort Jackson” lies in Hampton Roads, December, 1864. This powerful side-wheel steamer of 1,770 tons burden was a regular river passenger-steamer before she was purchased by the Federal Government and converted into a gunboat of the second class. Her armament consisted of one 100-pounder rifle, two 30-pound rifles, and eight 9-inch smooth-bores. The navy had come to know the need of her type during the latter half of the war. By the end of 1862, 180 purchased vessels had been added to its force. But many of these, unlike the “Fort Jackson,” were frail barks in which officers and men “had to fight the heaviest kind of earthworks, often perched at a great height above the water, where their plunging fire could perforate the vessels' decks and boilers or even pass down through their bottoms.” But so splendid was the organization and discipline of the navy from the first that inadequacies of equipment were compensated for in a most remarkable degree. The personnel of the navy, both regular and volunteer, was of such a quality that men never questioned the peril which the mere embarking in some of the earlier gunboats entailed. The “Fort Jackson,” under Captain B. F. Sands, was in the third line of the fleet that on December 24 and 25, 1864, hurled more than a million and<*>a quarter pounds of shot and shell at Fort Fisher on the Cape Fear River, North Carolina. After the fall of that Fort the “Fort Jackson” continued on blockade duty off the North Carolina coast, and during 1865 captured three blockade-runners with valuable cargoes.|
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