the importance of a Navy — resources of the South--the iron interest — patriotic.
Devotion of the ladies — Affairs.
On the coast, &c.
[Special correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Savannah, Ga, March 17, 1862
The late successful clearance of Hampton Roads
by the Virginia
has aroused the whole country to the importance of this new means of national defence, and the equalization of the superior power now possessed by the Yankees
It has stimulated the effort to create a navy and has already produced better fruit even than the demolition of Yankee frigates, by the enthusiasm which it has excited throughout the South
Gunboats are being designed, and the necessary means to construct them have been the subject of earnest but successful appeals not only in Mobile
, but in Charleston
and in Savannah
, where the spirit has caught the prevailing excellent and has resulted thus far in opening a fair view of its final accomplishment.
But the people who have taken this sudden and active part in the good cause of national defence and the construction of iron-clad ships and batteries, are not aware generally of the immense and almost insurmountable obstacles which lie in the way of its consummation.
The industry of the South
, especially in all those branches connected with a marine, has been hitherto so limited that the. Government has had its energies taxed to obtain the labor sufficiently skilled to produce ships able to compete with the fleet which belonged to the old Union at the time of its disruption.
This cause of delay and embarrassments is one, however, which can be remedied, and which time alone will soon do away with throughout the length and breadth of the Confederacy
Our resources in every other necessity of naval construction are ample, far surpassing that of any other portion of the civilized globe; our forests of oak have been the prolific source from which the navies of the old world have been created, our pines furnish the noblest spars, and the tar and turpentine has hitherto gone to supper the wants of all Europe
The iron ores of the South
will compare with the best, and many mines in Georgia
will be found to surpass in every respect the product of Sweden
With all these requisites it may be asked wherein occurs the difficulty of building up the navy which we now aspire to create?
I have alluded to this subject solely with the object of impressing upon the Government
and the people the absolute necessity of governmental protection to the iron interest, which must be festered; nay, if not inaugurated by private enterprise, must commence from the initial point under Government creation and superintendence.
It may not be known to the mass of the people that our mines are not capable, as at present conducted, to supply the exigencies of a largely increased Government demand, notwithstanding the late advertisement for an enormous supply proceeding from the Ordnance Department, is sufficient indication that the Confederate
authorities are awake to the importance of it and the great want existing.
Furthermore, the people may not be aware that at present we have not within our broad limits one rolling mill for the manufacture of boiler-plate iron, the importance of which is sufficiently obvious to the least interested in the various manufactures of iron.
The last from which our supplies have hitherto been drawn, has fallen a prey to the flames and the destructive energies of the invader of the State of Tennessee
; and now we have not on hand sufficient to render complete the repairs, after six months use, of the engines we already possess, or may hereafter build.
I shall only add to the number of our wants that of wrought iron, so difficult at present to obtain, and the rails which the constant service of our roads are now subjected to will demand very soon.
I have specified these, not to cause any despondence on the part of our people, but to prepare them for the urgency of governmental assistance in the creation of this branch of industry.
Individual enterprise has been appealed to, to remove this want, but it, must be borne in mine that the means adequate to the establishment of the necessary works must be large; and I have heard those who were willing to engage in the undertaking express the fear that the re-establishment of peace would ruin them, and destroy that which they had sacrificed much to build up for the success of our cause alone.
The Government has not failed to appreciate the importance of national armories, and to that end has devoted much time and great expense in removing the Harper's Ferry
works, and commencing de nove
others destined to fill the existing want.
A cannon foundry is equally as important an object of Government aclicitude, and in view of these deficiencies and the increased demand which an iron.
clad navy will create, it surely is incumbent upon our authorities to take the initial steps towards this great work.
It has been suggested, and to-day repeated in the Republican,
of this city, that the iron plates should be imported if our resources will not be immediately available.
The suggestion is timely and proper; let not the Government
delay, the country will demand a vigorous exertion of the power reposed in its hands, and will not fail to condemn any hesitancy in availing itself of every prerogative of power which the crisis demands.
Should the Government
determine to enter into this great project, it will in the first place assure itself of the possession of arm or plates sufficient to cover all the boats we may build, and that of a description superior in quality of metal to the Yankee ships, and of a size which now is beyond the power of our Southern works, few as they are, to produce.
The additional strength which will be given to any battery by the use of plates of a size such as the Warrior
is clad with will be obvious to every one at all acquainted with construction, and at the same time facilitate the rapidity with which it can be built.
To the Government
belongs the duty of creating or (if not commencing) fostering this branch, which has risen to colossal importance within a few months, and which will be the only barrier to the accomplishment of the noble projects which the patriotism of the women of the South
, as well as of the men, have inaugurated Let no impediment occur from the procrastination of the powers that be; the enthusiasm of the people must be seized at the favorable moment, or the tide will ebb, not to flow back at the beck of Secretary
Let the people comprehend how the case stands, and I believe they will cause the work to be done with a will, and that right soon.
It is not a matter, of close speculation, but one which every reader can make out for himself, that the success of the Virginia
will insure a visitation of clouds of these iron clad vessels upon our coasts, to resist which we are powerless, unless we meet them armed with the same impenetrable mail.
Our batteries and forts would be of no avail, and they might pass Sumter
, or Pulaski
, and not deign to notice Fort Jackson
, whenever the officer in command should prove courageous enough to attempt the passage.
The people are aware of this, and see the absolute necessity of providing the power to cope with the first Yankee visitor who shows himself thus armed upon our coasts.
In view of this, let the Government
be stirring and keep the Virginia
busily up to her work.
If she has aught to perform, let it be done at once; for she will meet her match as some time; if she does not now await her in Hampton Roads
The gunboat subscription progresses nobly, and the women of Carolina
are emulating more closely the heroic virtues and disinterested patriotism of the Revolution than the men. They will build their pets, and I trust that they will float, an honor to the cause and a glorious reminder of our lovely and courageous laborers in the struggle for our freedom.
Our women deserve, indeed, the brightest honors and the moat loving devotion from every true son of the South
To their characteristic patience they have brought to bear more than feminine, decision and firmness, and to their encouraging, soothing and inspiring words many a brave heart has gone forth to battle with renewed vigor and hope.
Truly the mothers make the nation, for by their holy and sympathetic hands all the good in man's nature is educed and made to grow into the firm support and prop of a free Government.
I have not unfrequently seen, during the progress of this most unprovoked war, a son hearing himself from the embraces of a mother whose hope and comfort he was, she bathed in tears and lamenting his possible fate, which lay hid in the womb of time.
Again I have seen that mother, after the "dull, cold arm of death" had removed him from her sight forever, cheerful, hopeful, courageous, yielding her greatest treasure a willing victim and sacrifice upon the altar of her country.
No Roman mother could show greater love of country, and no Cornelia
that history has ever recorded, or ever went down unnoted to the tomb, could point to more rich, more valued jewels.
We have a glorious future before us, and a noble race to achieve the goal, with such admirable guides, and such worthy incentives.
We have little to note about here, the affairs in Florida
retaining in statu quo,
no battle having taken place there, and little chance as the Yankees
have set to work fortifying Jacksonville
all is quiet, the little skirmishes of last week not having been repeated since, as the enemy got a taste of our vigilance.
To-day the officers in command here received dispatches from Fort Pulaski
, accompanied with two hundred letters from the garrison.
An old negro, one who has the reputation of great shrewdness, carried in a small cance fresh beef.
which he had slaughtered on Wilmington Island
, to Fort Pulaski
, and returned this morning, bringing the above valuable information to friends I have not seen, the venerable gentleman of the marshes, but was informed by an officer at the barracks (not especially insured, however, on that account,) As our sable friend is acquainted with every nook between here and Pulaski
, it is not difficult to elude the observation of the lookouts The old man deserves remuneration, how ever, and, I have no doubt, will be rewarded.
We have reports of more reverses to our arms in Missouri
, which I fear will hazard the possession of Memphis
I trust the tide will soon begin to turn, our dark days are upon us; at least we cannot now conceive a more lowering sky or more portentous blackness overhead, but a moment may open the vista to a cloudless sky, and reassures every one.
Your correspondent is willing to make the sacrifice of his all. Mercury.
[* We are inclined to believe our correspondent in error in this particular; still it is a matter that should be urged with energy and encouraged by every means in the possession of the Government