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Confederate Navy.

The Confederacy was able to enter upon the seas early, with a naval force that had to be reckoned with, as a result of its enterprise in seizing the undefended Norfolk Navy-yard only nine days after Sumter was fired upon. As early as February 21, 1861, Jefferson Davis appointed Stephen Mallory as Secretary of the Confederate Navy. He resigned from the United States Senate, where he had represented his State, Florida, and before he joined the Confederate Cabinet the navy-yard in his home town, Pensacola, had been seized, January 10, 1861, by Florida and Alabama State troops. The Federal navy-yards in the South were neither so active nor so well equipped as those at the North. But Norfolk Navy-yard, one of the oldest and most extensive, was provided with everything for the building and finishing of vessels of the largest size. At the time of the secession of Virginia it contained at least 2,000 pieces of heavy cannon, including 300 new Dahlgren guns. The aggregate value of the property there was close to $10,000,000. Most of this fell into the hands of the Confederates. Owing to the possession of the yard equipment, it was here that the Southern naval constructors were first able to exemplify their ideas in ironclad construction by raising the hull of the sunken “Merrimac” and converting her into the armored “Virginia,” to strike terror at the heart of the North by her performances in Hampton Roads in 1862. Although the Federals regained possession of Norfolk soon afterward and compelled the destruction of the “Virginia,” her record stirred the Confederates to almost superhuman efforts. Secretary Mallory was most active in founding enterprises both at home and abroad for the construction of vessels.

Stephen Russell Mallory, secretary of the Confederate states navy

The beginning of the Confederate navy--ruins of the Norfolk navy-yard, 1862


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