properly to propel a serviceable gunboat; there was a scarcity of iron, and there were no factories equipped to roll the two-and-one-half-inch plate that served to armor the ironclads soon to replace the wooden ships.
There was but one plant in the South
that could supply large-caliber guns, and that was the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia
, which was out of the jurisdiction of the Confederate States
until after the firing on Fort Sumter
There was wood enough in the South
to have built a mighty fleet of ships, but it was standing in the forests, uncut and unseasoned, and in everything necessary for the equipment and construction of serviceable war-ships, the South
was lacking or very poorly supplied.
There was no money in the Confederate
coffers to buy all these necessities, and while the existence of the Confederacy
as a revolutionary body was recognized by the world-powers, its stability as a Government was not acknowledged, and its credit was not established.
An additional obstacle in the path of the formation of a Confederate navy was the fact that the great powers of Europe
issued proclamations of neutrality almost immediately after the first gun had been fired at Fort Sumter
, and the lesser powers soon followed the lead of the greater ones.
In substance, these proclamations allowed ships of either navy harbor for the purpose of making repairs or of securing supplies.
No ship might reenforce her crew in any of these foreign ports or make any alterations other than repairs necessary to make their crafts seaworthy; they were to receive on board no ordnance supplies or any other “contraband” articles; they might not take on board more than enough coal to carry them to the nearest port in their own country, and they could not coal in the harbor of any one power more than once in three months, except by special permission.
This was the situation that faced the Secretary of the Navy
of the Confederacy
after the opening of hostilities.
But even before the war-cloud had broken over the Nation,