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forthcoming at the Treasury-New Orleans might not have fallen as she did. Later still, when the Virginia was blown up on the evacuation of Norfolk, a howl of indignation was raised against Secretary, Department and all connected with it. A Court of Inquiry was called; and Commodore Tatnall himself demanded a court-martial, upon the first court not ordering one. The facts proved were that the ship, with her iron coating and heavy armament, drew far too much water to pass the shoal at Harrison's Bar-between her and Richmond. With Norfolk in the enemy's hands, the hostile fleet pressing her-and with no point whence to draw supplies-she could not remain, as the cant went, the grim sentinel to bar all access to the river. It was essential to lighten her, if. possible; and the effort was made by sacrificing her splendid armament. Even then she would not lighten enough by two feet; the enemy pressed upon her, now perfectly unarmed; and Tatnall was forced to leave and fire her.
John Taylor Wood (search for this): chapter 31
t one time — were the only cruisers the Confederacy had afloat; until just before its close, the Shenandoah went out to strike fresh terror to the heart and pocket of New England. Then, also, that stronghanded and cool-headed amphiboid, Colonel John Taylor Wood, made --with wretched vessels and hastily-chosen crews-most effective raids on the coasting shipping of the Northeast. One popular error pervades all which has been said or written, on both sides of the line, about the Confederate naplendid conduct of that latter grim old seadog, when, returning wounded and prison-worn, he bore down on Plymouth in the Albemarle and crushed the Federal gunboats like egg-shells. And conspicuous, even among these fellow-sailors, stands John Taylor Wood. Quick to plan and strong to strike, he ever and anon would collect a few trusty men and picked officers; glide silently out from Richmond, where his duties as colonel of cavalry on the President's staff chained him most of the time. Soon
Franklin Buchanan (search for this): chapter 31
ot boat. But once there he made the best of it; and how well he wrought in the new sphere, the names of Hollins, Lynch, Buchanan and Tucker still attest. At the time the first Army Bill was passed by Congress, a law was also made securing to resfew days before to watch the Virginia, as the new iron-clad was now rechristened. The great ship being ready, Flag-Officer Buchanan ordered the Jamestown, Captain Barney, and the Yorktown, Captain Tucker, down from Richmond; while he went out wiur of the vessels being frail wooden shells, formerly used as river passenger boats-carried only twenty-seven guns. But Buchanan steamed boldly out, on the morning of the 8th of March, to attack an enemy carrying quite two hundred and twenty of the a boat from the Virginia to fire the frigate; but was badly wounded by a Minie-ball, from under the white flag; and Captain Buchanan was seriously hit in the leg by the same volley. Then it was determined to burn the Congress with hot shot. The
William R. Smith (search for this): chapter 31
A great rent yawned in the ship's side; she filled rapidly-careened --went down by the bows — her flag still flying-her men still at quarters! On past her-scarce checked in her deadly-slow course-moved the Virginia. Then she closed on the Congress, and one terrific broadside after another raked the frigate; till, trembling like a cardhouse, she hauled down her colors and raised the white flag. The Beaufort ranged alongside and received the flag of the Congress, and her captain, William R. Smith, and Lieutenant Pendergrast as prisoners of war. These officers left their side-arms on the Beaufort and returned to the Congress; whennotwithstand-ing the white flag — a hot fire was opened from shore upon the Beaufort, and she was compelled to withdraw. Lieutenant Robert Minor was then sent in a boat from the Virginia to fire the frigate; but was badly wounded by a Minie-ball, from under the white flag; and Captain Buchanan was seriously hit in the leg by the same volley. Then it wa
Robert Minor (search for this): chapter 31
dside after another raked the frigate; till, trembling like a cardhouse, she hauled down her colors and raised the white flag. The Beaufort ranged alongside and received the flag of the Congress, and her captain, William R. Smith, and Lieutenant Pendergrast as prisoners of war. These officers left their side-arms on the Beaufort and returned to the Congress; whennotwithstand-ing the white flag — a hot fire was opened from shore upon the Beaufort, and she was compelled to withdraw. Lieutenant Robert Minor was then sent in a boat from the Virginia to fire the frigate; but was badly wounded by a Minie-ball, from under the white flag; and Captain Buchanan was seriously hit in the leg by the same volley. Then it was determined to burn the Congress with hot shot. There is no room for comment here; and no denial of these facts has ever been made, or attempted. Meanwhile, the frigates Minnesota, St. Lawrence and Roanoke had advanced and opened fire on the Virginia; but upon her app
Montgomery (search for this): chapter 31
rs of the Union. Mr. Mallory took charge of the Navy Department in March, 1861. At this time the question of iron-clads had attention of naval builders on both sides of the Atlantic; and deeming them indispensable to naval warfare, the Secretary's first movement was a strong memoir to Congress, urging immediate and heavy appropriations for their construction at New Orleans and Mobile. With a treasury empty and immovably averse to anything like decisive action, the astute lawgivers of Montgomery hesitated and doubted. The most that could be forced from them were small appropriations for the fitting out of privateers. The first venture, the Sumter, was bought, equipped and put into commission at the end of April; and in the course of a few weeks she ran out of New Orleans, in command of Raphael Semmes, and the stars and bars were floating solitary, but defiant, over the seas. The history of her cruise, the terror she spread among the enemy's shipping, and the paralysis she se
w trusty men and picked officers; glide silently out from Richmond, where his duties as colonel of cavalry on the President's staff chained him most of the time. Soon would come an echo from the frontier, telling of quick, sharp struggle; victorious boarding and a Federal gunboat or two given to the flames. I have already alluded to his dashing raid upon the fishery fleet; but his cunning capture of the gunboats in the Rappahannock, or his cool and daring attack on the Underwriter, during Pickett's movement on Newberne, would alone give him undying reputation. The United States had a navy in her waters that would class as the third maritime power of the world; and this she rapidly increased by every appliance of money, skill and energy. She bought and built ships and spent vast sums and labor in experiments in ordnance, armoring and machinery. As result of this, the Federal navy, at the end of the second year of the war, numbered some 390 vessels of all grades, carrying a fra
aste of the Federal retreat-stimulated the Government. A meager appropriation was passed for the construction of the Merrimac; or rather for an iron-clad ship upon the hull of the half-destroyed frigate of that name. Had the whole amount necessary for her completion been given, the vessel would have been ready weeks before she was, under the dribblet system adopted. Then, indeed, it would be hard to overestimate her value; damage to shipping in Hampton Roads; or her ultimate effect upon McClellan's campaign. No appropriation for an object of vital import could be shaken free from its bonds of red tape; and this one was saddled with an incubus, in the bill for the construction of one hundred gunboats. The scheme to build that number of wooden vessels of small size seemed equally short-sighted and impracticable. They could only be built on inland rivers and creeks, to prevent attacks by the enemy's heavier vessels; and hence they were necessarily small and ineffective. The int
Jefferson Davis (search for this): chapter 31
no fleet for their occupation. The department, therefore, used the discretion given it to confer a few honorary titles, and to appoint a vast number of subordinate officers, for shore duty in its work-shops and navy-yards. The acceptability of Mr. Mallory to the people, at the outset of his career, has been noted. They believed that his long experience in the committee of naval affairs was guarantee for the important trust confided to him. Moreover, he was known to be relied upon by Mr. Davis as a man of solid intellect, of industry and perseverance. If his knowledge of naval affairs was entirely theoretical, it mattered little so long as he could turn that knowledge to practical account, by the counsel and aid of some of the most efficient of the scientific sailors of the Union. Mr. Mallory took charge of the Navy Department in March, 1861. At this time the question of iron-clads had attention of naval builders on both sides of the Atlantic; and deeming them indispensabl
Eben Farrand (search for this): chapter 31
ns and opportunity. And this opinion was to be strengthened, from time to time, by the brilliant flashes of naval daring that came to illumine some of the darkest hours of the war. Who does not remember that defense of Drewry's Bluff when Eben Farrand had only three gunboat crews and three hastily mounted guns, with which to drive back the heavy fleet that knew Richmond city lay helpless at its mercy? And those desperate, yet brilliant fights off New Orleans, against every odds of metalhe noble achievements of the ship under naval guidance; that, if destroyed by naval men, she was the offspring of naval genius. With no discussion of facts, the cry against the navy went on, even after that splendid defense of Drewry's Bluff by Farrand, which alone saved Richmond! As a pioneer, the Virginia was a great success and fully demonstrated the theory of her projector. But there were many points about her open to grave objections; and she was, as a whole, far inferior to the smal
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