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e revenue steamer Harriet Lane, which vessel was ordered to proceed at once to Norfolk. It shows the miserable condition of the Navy when the department had nothing but a revenue cutter to depend upon. Days went by before anything else was attempted. On the 11th of April Commodore Jas. Alden was ordered to report to Commodore McCauley to take command of the Merrimac, and Chief Engineer Isherwood was sent to Norfolk to get the ship's engines in working order as soon as possible. On the 14th the work was commenced, and on the 17th the engines were in working order — so much for the Commandant's assertion that it would take a month to get the ship ready to move, as he was made to believe. It is no wonder, under these circumstances The steamer Harriet Lane. that the loyalty of the Commandant should have been questioned, yet he was simply influenced by officers whom he trusted and who were desirous that the Merrimac should be retained for the future navy of the Southern Confede
neither to be daunted by a few shot and shell. The story of that day is known to all who read history, and it is not necessary to further refer to it, excepting in connection with the naval expedition which was fitted out in the earlier part of April to go to the relief of Sumter, the history of which will appear further on in this narrative. Secretary Welles, with a decision worthy of the occasion, did fit out an expedition for the relief of Sumter, the last vessel of which sailed from Neg well taken care of; but this was merely the calm which precedes the storm — the fearful storm which was soon to burst upon the country, when Hope for a season bade the world farewell, and truth and honor hung their heads with shame. Early in April the Navy Department began to get very uneasy for the safety of the Navy Yard, for it was by this time well understood that the Secessionists would make an aggressive movement on the first favorable opportunity. The Department was most anxious
April 9th (search for this): chapter 2
ted by a few shot and shell. The story of that day is known to all who read history, and it is not necessary to further refer to it, excepting in connection with the naval expedition which was fitted out in the earlier part of April to go to the relief of Sumter, the history of which will appear further on in this narrative. Secretary Welles, with a decision worthy of the occasion, did fit out an expedition for the relief of Sumter, the last vessel of which sailed from New York on the 9th of April, but owing to various reasons did not reach Charleston harbor in time to be of any use, and the attack on the fort commenced soon after the leading vessels showed themselves off the bar. A number of the smaller vessels never arrived at all, and under the circumstances could have been of no use had they arrived twenty-four hours before the attack. The expedition arrived only to see the declaration of war between the North and the South, which was promulgated by the thunder of cannon and t
April 11th (search for this): chapter 2
ep humiliation and a loss in ships, guns and stores not easy to repair. On the 31st of March 250 seamen and landsmen were ordered to be transferred from the New York Navy Yard to Norfolk, and fifty seamen were transferred to the revenue steamer Harriet Lane, which vessel was ordered to proceed at once to Norfolk. It shows the miserable condition of the Navy when the department had nothing but a revenue cutter to depend upon. Days went by before anything else was attempted. On the 11th of April Commodore Jas. Alden was ordered to report to Commodore McCauley to take command of the Merrimac, and Chief Engineer Isherwood was sent to Norfolk to get the ship's engines in working order as soon as possible. On the 14th the work was commenced, and on the 17th the engines were in working order — so much for the Commandant's assertion that it would take a month to get the ship ready to move, as he was made to believe. It is no wonder, under these circumstances The steamer Harrie
April 15th (search for this): chapter 2
r wrath as if the fort standing out in the bay had been some vengeful foe on which they desired to wreak their vengeance, instead of considering that it had been placed there for their protection against all foreign enemies. It was well understood by all those in that beleagured fort what would be the result of building all those earth-works, and that it was only a matter of a few days or perhaps hours, ere the South Carolinians would proceed to extremities — had they waited until the 15th of April the garrison would have been starved out, and obliged to surrender for want of provisions. But that would not have suited them; they wanted to strike a blow that would make separation inevitable. and one that would unite the whole South in the measures then pending to form a Southern Confederacy, or whatever kind of government they might finally drift into. Major Anderson, the Commander of Sumter, received the first shot and shell in silence; the batteries at regular intervals conti
April 20th (search for this): chapter 2
bustibles, and the whole saturated with oil and turpentine. The ship-houses and other buildings were prepared in the same manner, and nothing left to chance so that the rebels could derive any benefit from what was left behind. The fine dry-dock that had cost millions to build was undermined, and a hundred men ran to and fro with heavy hammers trying to knock off the trunnions of the heavy guns, but with a few exceptions these attempts were failures. It was a beautiful starlight night, April 20, when all the preparations were completed. The people of Norfolk and Portsmouth were wrapped in slumber, little dreaming that in a few hours the ships and public works which were so essential to the prosperity of the community would be a mass of ruins, and hundreds of people would be without employment and without food for their families. The Pawnee had towed the Cumberland out of the reach of the fire, and laid at anchor to receive on board those who were to fire the public property.
April 21st (search for this): chapter 2
, under the impression that the force that had arrived at Norfolk was for the purpose of holding the yard and relieving him of responsibility, and when he was called at midnight and informed that the torch would be applied to everything, he could hardly The burning of the Norfolk Navy Yard, the frigate Merrimac, and other vessels, April 21, 1861. realize the situation, and was chagrined and mortified at the idea of abandoning his post without any attempt to defend it. At 2:30 A. M., April 21st, a rocket from the Pawnee gave the signal; the work of destruction commenced with the Merrimac, and in ten minutes she was one vast sheet of flame. In quick succession the trains to the other ships and buildings were ignited and the surrounding country brilliantly illuminated. The inhabitants of Norfolk and Portsmouth, roused from their slumber, looked with awe at the work of destruction, and mothers clasping their children to their breasts bewailed the fate that cut them and their off
ument to the sailors? As this narrative continues people will learn with surprise that the Navy did so much towards putting down the rebellion; yet the author will scarcely find time or space to give a fair account of all the Navy did do, and must leave untold many events to be related hereafter by some more graphic historian. As years pass on, people who have been born long after the great War of the Rebellion, will long to know of the great battles by land and sea. which took place from 1861 to 1865, and it is to be hoped that by each one contributing his mite, in the course of time a true history will be written. The best of efforts will be made in this history to make it a true if not an interesting one. When President Lincoln entered upon the duties of his office, his position towards Virginia differed somewhat from that which he assumed towards the States farther South. It was deemed desirable that the Administration should do nothing to wound the sensitive feelings of t
April 12th, 1861 AD (search for this): chapter 2
Commodore Paulding summoned. hostile attitude of the people of Norfolk and Portsmouth. vessels at the Norfolk Navy Yard. ships that were historic. aggressive movements of the Confederates. Commander James Alden. Chief Engineer Isher Wood. indecision of Commodore McCauley. the torch applied to the Navy Yard and vessels by the Federal authorities. vessels that were saved. the greatest misfortune to the Union cause. the Merrimac, etc., etc. At thirty minutes past 4 o'clock, on April 12, 1861, the first gun of civil war was fired, the battery on James Island discharging the first howitzer shell, which fell inside Fort Sumter, blowing up a building; this was almost immediately followed by another shell, which scattered destruction all around. Fort Moultrie then took up the assault, and in another moment the guns from the gun battery on Cummings Point, from Captain McCready's battery, from Captain James Hamilton's floating battery, the enfilading battery, and every other poi
April 21st, 1861 AD (search for this): chapter 2
at anchor to receive on board those who were to fire the public property. Commodore McCauley had gone to bed that night worn out with excitement and anxiety, under the impression that the force that had arrived at Norfolk was for the purpose of holding the yard and relieving him of responsibility, and when he was called at midnight and informed that the torch would be applied to everything, he could hardly The burning of the Norfolk Navy Yard, the frigate Merrimac, and other vessels, April 21, 1861. realize the situation, and was chagrined and mortified at the idea of abandoning his post without any attempt to defend it. At 2:30 A. M., April 21st, a rocket from the Pawnee gave the signal; the work of destruction commenced with the Merrimac, and in ten minutes she was one vast sheet of flame. In quick succession the trains to the other ships and buildings were ignited and the surrounding country brilliantly illuminated. The inhabitants of Norfolk and Portsmouth, roused from
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