Our naval heroes.
The London Times
once remarked, in commenting on the Yankee
complaints about the building of the Alabama
, that England
did not furnish the Confederates
the seamanship and enterprise by which the Alabama
had been made such a dreadful grievance to the Yankee
That is very true, and it is a source of consolation to us now that we are at all events not dependent upon England
for the naval energy and heroes qualities which have almost driven the Yankee
flag from the ocean.
There will be no difficulty in getting ships; even in England
, according to Earl Russell's own statement, ships like the Alabama
may be built, and we are inclined to think that such ships may be of more value to our cause than the rams, which are, after all, a problem so far as sea-going qualities are concerned, and which might never have come up to the expectations of the people in breaking the blockade.
But our naval heroes, like Semmes
, are of our own manufacture, and if they cannot burn down New York, Boston
, and Philadelphia
, they can effectually destroy the commerce from which those cities derive their chief support.
If we had only twenty Alabamas and Floridas upon the seas we could make the Northern
cities howl, and cause the Stars and Stripes to trail ignominiously the waves of every sea.
Highly as the services of Semmes
are appreciated, the country cannot estimate beyond its true value the character of such men. They perform their glorious deeds under disadvantages which are unknown to their brethren of the army.
They are alone upon the "wide, wide sea;" they are uncheered by a sight of even the heavens of their native land; they have only at intervals faint echoes of that national applause which falls in full blast upon the ears of our successful soldiers; they never return to walk our streets and see in every eye the admiring flashes which grateful millions cast upon their champions and deliverers; they are not encouraged by the physical and moral strength of a vast army of armed men. A few solitary ships, hunted by vast navies, they maintain in foreign seas a warfare that requires not only the loftiest courage, but the most consummate skill, the most sleepless vigilance, and the most perfect self-reliance.
We are proud to believe that we have among our naval officers many more such men — men who pine for the opportunity of distinction, and who only lack the opportunity to be equally celebrated with Semmes
Even in our own limited circle of acquaintances in the navy, we know more than one who, if he had but the chance, would make as great a name for his country and himself as either of these illustrious heroes.
For such materials as these we are not dependent upon England
or any other nation, and if they will only let us have the ships, they may sacrifice the rams, and we will ask them no other favors.