from Cape Hatteras
to the Rio Grande
, the far-off boundary with Mexico
To maintain even the appearance of a blockade over the harbors, sounds, and numberless inlets required the purchase of every vessel under the flag that had possibilities of usefulness.
At New York and Boston Navy Yards there were dry docks, and at each several ways for building ships, and at Portsmouth, N. H.
, and Philadelphia
more limited facilities for construction.
To supply the needs and waste of war required the employment of every shipbuilding yard in the land.
The personnel of the ‘old navy,’ as it was called, depleted as above described, was quite insufficient to meet the exigencies of the Civil War
; instead of 5,000 men afloat, as before that event, no less than 50,000 were required.
To officer these men, intelligent officers and seamen from the merchant service were sought, who, after passing examinations to establish their professional fitness, were given acting appointments in various grades.
It is proper to add that as a whole they fairly fulfilled reasonable expectations, and after the war was over and passing other examinations, more than fifty of these volunteer officers, many of whom would do honor to any navy, entered the regular service under provisions of law.
Just previous to the Civil War
our naval vessels were as well supplied with smooth-bore shell guns and with boat howitzers as any service afloat; this was effected with considerable difficulty by the late Rear-Admiral Dahlgren
when in an inferior grade.
The special value of rifled ordnance under certain conditions had not yet been properly established, and there were but few pieces afloat, but they soon formed a part of the battery of every vessel.
In pages that follow, the inferiority for service of vessels improvised
for war purposes will become painfully apparent.