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[118]

One was the Atlantic Blockading Squadron, of twenty-two vessels carrying two hundred and ninety-six guns and thirty-five hundred men under Flag-Officer Stringham, who had for his field of operations the whole of the Atlantic coast from Norfolk to Cape Florida. Flag-Officer Mervine had been given command of the other squadron, whose department was the Gulf. Here were twenty-one vessels, carrying two hundred and eighty-two guns and thirty-four hundred men. As fast as new ships could be built or old ships bought and repaired, these squadrons were reenforced. During the war more than two hundred vessels were built and more than four hundred purchased. As has been noticed before, in the chapter on Federal Organization, there were more officers in the navy at the end of the Civil War than there were seamen at its commencement, the numbers totaling seven thousand five hundred who held commissions and fifty-one thousand sailormen.

The blockade was no child's play, as England and the Continent soon learned, and for those engaged in it, it was work of serious character. The Comte de Paris, in his “History of the Civil war,” has summed up the work of officers and men who, for four years, policed that seaboard of three thousand miles: “Their task was the more arduous on account of its extreme monotony. To the watches and fatigues of every kind which the duties of the blockade involved, there were added difficulties of another character. It was necessary to instruct the newly recruited crews, to train officers who had been taken from the merchant navy, and to ascertain, under the worst possible circumstances, the good and bad qualities of merchant vessels too quickly converted into men of war. In these junctures the Federal navy displayed a perseverance, a devotion, and a knowledge of its profession which reflects as much honor upon it as its more brilliant feats of arms.”

Before the blockade was six months old, the Atlantic Squadron was divided in two. Flag-Officer Goldsborough

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