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Chapter 27:

  • Naval affairs
  • -- organization of the Navy Department -- experiments for floating batteries and rams -- the Norfolk Navy yard -- abandonment by the enemy -- the Merrimac frigate made an ironclad -- fleet of the enemy -- Captain Buchanan -- Resolves to attack the enemy -- Sinks the Cumberland -- Burns the Congress -- Executive officer Jones takes command -- appearance of the Monitor -- the Virginia attacks her -- cheers of English man-of-war -- importance of the Navy yard -- order of General Johnston to evacuate -- stores saved -- the Virginia burned -- harbor defenses at Wilmington -- harbor defenses at Charleston -- Fights in the harbor -- defenses of Savannah -- Mobile harbor and capture of its defenses -- sub-terra shells placed in James River; used in Charleston harbor; in Roanoke River; in Mobile harbor -- the Tecumseh, how destroyed.


The organization of the Navy Department comprised under its general supervision a bureau of orders and details, one of ordnance and hydrography, one of provisions and clothing, and one of medicine and surgery. The grades of officers consisted of admirals, captains, commanders, surgeons, lieutenants, and midshipmen. Of the officers at the close of the first year there were one admiral, twelve captains, thirty commanders, and one hundred twelve first and second lieutenants. All of the principal officers had belonged to the United States Navy. Owing to the limited number of vessels afloat, many of these officers were employed on shore duties.

The vessels of the navy may be reduced to two classes: those intended for river and harbor defense, as ironclads, rams, floating batteries, or river steamboats transformed into gunboats; sea-going steamers of moderate size, some of them of great speed, but not having been designed for war purposes, were all unsuited for a powerful armament, and could not be expected to contend successfully with ships of war.

Early in 1861 discussions and experiments were instituted by the Navy Department to determine how floating batteries and naval rams could be best constructed and protected by iron plates. Many persons had submitted plans, according to which cotton bales might be effectively used as a shield against shot. Our deficiency in iron, and also in rolling-mills to prepare it into plates, caused cotton to be sometimes so employed;

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R. Jones (1)
Joseph E. Johnston (1)
Franklin Buchanan (1)
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