and its dearth of even the nucleus of any naval force.
The secession of Mississippi
, and Louisiana
in quick succession made for a sure commencement of hostilities.
In February, 1861, delegates from the seceding States met at Montgomery, Alabama
, and organized a new provisional Government; the breach had widened beyond all hope of repair; the only manner in which the matter could be settled was by war.
was made the President
of the new republic, and the task he had to face might well have appalled a less resourceful brain.
Without a treasury, without an army, and without a single gunboat, the new President
appointed his cabinet, and assigned the post of Secretary of the Navy
to Stephen R. Mallory
, of Florida
, who had served his State in the United States Senate, and for years had been chairman of the Naval Committee of the House of Representatives, an experience that stood him in good stead.
The problems that confronted the other ministers were perplexing, but that which faced the new Secretary of the Navy
was the most monumental of them all. The South did not own a vessel capable of being fitted out as a ship of war. There were only two navy-yards in the South
--one at Norfolk, Virginia
, which State had not then cast her lot with the secessionists; the other navy-yard was at Pensacola, Florida
, and was not fitted for construction work but intended only for repair and shelter.
Even though it had been perfectly adapted to the construction of ships of war, the Federal Government
held the fortifications that guarded the entrance to the harbor, and blockading squadrons could have stopped or destroyed any vessel that attempted to pass out to sea. There were a few small private shipyards scattered throughout the South
, but not one with the plant necessary to build and equip a warship of even moderate tonnage.
In addition to this, there was but one manufacturer in the South
who could construct an engine of sufficient power