ships to prey upon the enemy's commerce—that is, in the way of purchase, for it soon became evident, from the experience we had had, in building the Alabama
, and other ships contracted for by the Navy Department, that we could not rely upon constructing them.
The neutral powers became too watchful, and were too much afraid of the Federal
When the Government
did put the Secretary
in funds, several months had elapsed, the war had begun, the coast was blockaded, and all the nations of Europe
were on the alert.
With reference to the personnel
of the Navy, a few words will describe the changes which had taken place in its organization, since I last referred to the subject.
It will be recollected that it then consisted of but four captains, four commanders, and about thirty lieutenants, and that the writer was the junior, but one, of the four commanders.
A considerable accession was made to the navy-list, as Virginia
, North Carolina
, and other States seceded, and joined their fortunes with those of their more impulsive sisters, the Cotton States
A number of old officers, past service, disdaining to eat the bread of ignoble pensioners upon the bounty of the Northern States
, which were seeking to subjugate the States of their birth or adoption, came South, bringing with them nothing but their patriotism and their gray hairs.
These all took rank, as has been remarked, according to the positions they had held in the old service.
These old gentlemen, whilst they would have commanded, with great credit, fleets and squadrons of well-appointed and well-officered ships, were entirely unsuited for such service as the Confederacy
could offer them.
It became necessary, in consequence, to re-organize the Navy; and although this was not done until May, 1863, some months after the Alabama
was commissioned, I will anticipate the subject here, to avoid the necessity of again referring to it. I had been promoted to the rank of captain in the Regular Navy
, in the summer of 1862.
The Act of May, 1863, established what was called the Provisional Navy
; the object being, without interfering with the rank of the officers in the Regular Navy
, to cull out from that navy list, younger and more active men, and put them in the Provisional Navy
, with increased rank.
The Regular Navy became, thus, a kind of retired list, and the Secretary