I address you this evening upon a branch of your military service, the more conspicuous, perhaps, in its absence from your councils, handicapped from beginning to end of your struggle by a lack of the material development of your section, and overshadowed by your ever memorable prowess in the field, ‘The Navy of the Confederate States
That a navy is—that it may be made an important factor—an efficient coadjutor to the success of an army in the field, let the service of the United States Navy in the late war fully attest.
, in the hour of his defeat, before Richmond
, made Harrison's Landing
the goal of his flight, to place his shattered and demoralized forces under the guns of the navy on the James
The United States navy convoyed the Federal
army to its attack upon Fort Henry
, in February, 1862—rendered service so effective that capitulation was made to it before the army was in position—and a few days later was its left wing at Fort Donelson
, contributing material aid in its reduction.
The Mississippi (with its vast supplies so essential to your armies) was in your control, from Cairo
to the Gulf
, until Foote
, from the North
, and Farragut
from the South
, broke its barriers, and began that system of segregation which so pitilessly sapped your vital forces.
The presence of the navy at Savannah
and the seaboard, gave birth, in the brain of Sherman
, to that relentless ‘March to The Sea
,’ which shook, for a time, even the morale of the army of Northern Virginia.
, in his Wilderness Campaign, foiled at every point, in his direct road to Richmond
, sat down before Petersburg
, his right wing in touch with the navy on the James
, and that he be not shorn of this assistance, obstructed the river against the descent of your gunboats.
The brief career of the Merrimac
in Hampton Roads
, delayed the advance of McClellan
on the Peninsula
—gave you the much needed time to put the defences of Richmond
in order—evoked the memorable telegram to Fox
, assistant secretary of navy
: ‘Can I rely upon the Monitor
to keep the Merrimac
in check, so that I can make Fort Monroe
a base of operations,’ and as late as the 12th of March, 1862, the lamentation of General Barnard
, his chief of engineers: ‘The possibility of the Merrimac
appearing again, paralyzes the movement of this army by whatsoever route is adopted.’