thought they had only to resign to hopelessly embarrass the Government
There was certainly for a time great confusion, and in the case of the Norfolk Yard
, great loss.
The difficulties are very properly stated in the Report of the Secretary of the Navy
, before referred to. ‘With so few vessels in commission on our coast, and our crews in distant seas, the Department was very indifferently prepared to meet the exigency that was rising.
Every moment was closely watched by the disaffected, and threatened to precipitate measures that the country seemed anxious to avoid.
Demoralization prevailed among the officers, many of whom, occupying the most responsible positions, betrayed symptoms of that infidelity that has dishonored the service.’
Turning to the vessels of the navy in commission, we find that they had been placed as far as possible in positions to render them least available.
On the 4th of March the home squadron consisted of twelve vessels, and of these only four were in Northern ports; two of these were small steamers, a third a sailing store-ship.
The fourth had only a month before entered a Northern port; the commander, a South Carolinian, had loitered off the coast apparently undecided.
After reaching port he remarked to an officer of the vessel that he had hesitated whether to obey his orders or go to Charleston
, and was quite thunderstruck when told that his hesitation had been observed and he would have been put in irons had he made the attempt.
Several of the vessels in Southern ports or at Vera Cruz
were commanded by Southern officers, who it was supposed would deliver their vessels into the hands of the Confederates
, but principle or policy was sufficient to spare such an attempted national disgrace.
The sailing frigate Sabine
, 50 guns, the sailing sloop St. Louis
, 20, and the steamers Brooklyn
, 25, and Wyandotte, 5, were at Pensacola
; and the sailing vessels Macedonian