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Pendergrast (search for this): chapter 31
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 was determined to burn the
John M. Brooke (search for this): chapter 31
que, in the submersion of her projecting eaves; presenting a continuous angling coat of mail even below the water-surface. She was built upon the razeed hull of the old Merrimac, of four-and-a-half-inch iron, transverse plates; and carried an armament of seven-inch rifled Brooke guns, made expressly for her. There was much discussion at one time, as to whom the credit for her plan was really due. It finally was generally conceded, however, that her origin and perfection were due to Commander John M. Brooke; and the terrible banded rifle-gun and bolt, she used with such effect on the Cumberland, was his undisputed invention. Much wonder had the good people of Norfolk expressed in their frequent visits to the strange-looking, turtle-like structure. Day by day she slowly grew; and at length, after weary work and weary waiting, took on her armament; then her crew was picked carefully from eager volunteers: her grand old captain took his place, and all was ready for the trial. Dur
rsity of opinion-had its birth and perfection in the navy. It was a service of science and perseverance; frequently of exposure to every peril. It required culture, nerve and administrative ability; and it was managed in the main with success. Still the results were hardly commensurate with the outlay involved; for though James river, some of the western streams, and Charleston harbor were literally sown with torpedoes, yet only in rare and isolated instances-such as the De Kalb and Commodore Jones --did the results equal the expectation. Thousands of tons of valuable powder, much good metal and more valuable time at the work-shops were expended on torpedoes; and, on the whole, it is very doubtful if the amount destroyed was not more than balanced by the amount expended. Thus, with varying fortunes-but with unceasing endeavor and unfailing courage — the navy worked on. That hue and cry against itwhich a brilliant success would partially paralyze-soon gathered force in its int
for the veteran who had, for forty years, trod the deck of a frigate, to be cooped in the contracted limits of a razeed tug, or an armed pilot 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 resigned naval officers the same rank they held in the United States service. But there was scarcely a keel inl strength-or even had she been completely finished and not had been compelled to succumb to accidents within, while she braved the terrific fire from without — the Federal fleet might have been crushed like egg-shells; the splendid exertions of Hollins and Kennon in the past would not have been nullified; the blood of McIntosh and Huger would not have been useless sacrifice; and the homes of the smiling city and the pure vicinage of her noble daughters might not have been polluted by the prese
or the far graver disaster of the closing of the whole river and the blockade of the trans-Mississippi. For had the Louisiana been furnished with two companion ships of equal strength-or even had she been completely finished and not had been compelled to succumb to accidents within, while she braved the terrific fire from without — the Federal fleet might have been crushed like egg-shells; the splendid exertions of Hollins and Kennon in the past would not have been nullified; the blood of McIntosh and Huger would not have been useless sacrifice; and the homes of the smiling city and the pure vicinage of her noble daughters might not have been polluted by the presence of the commandant, who crawled in after the victorious fleet. Norfolk, however, had comeinto southern possession, by the secession of Virginia; and the vast resources of her navy-yard-only partly crippled by the haste of the Federal retreat-stimulated the Government. A meager appropriation was passed for the constru
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 with the Raleigh and Beaufort --two of the smallest class of gunboats, saved by Captain Lynch from Roanoke Island. This combined force-four 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 heaviest guns in the United States navy! It was a moment of dreadful suspense for the soldiers in the batteries and the people of Norfolk. They crowded the wharves, the steeples, and the high points of the shore; and every eye was strained upon the black specks in the harbor. Slowly — with somewhat of majesty in her stolid, even progressthe Virginia steamed on-down the harbor-past the river batteries-out into the Ro
May, 1861 AD (search for this): chapter 31
he Federal navy, at the end of the second year of the war, numbered some 390 vessels of all grades, carrying a fraction over 3,000 guns. Before the end of the war it had increased to near 800 vessels of war of all grades; the number of guns had doubled and were infinitely heavier and more effective; and the number of tenders, tugs, transports and supply ships would have swelled the navy list to over 1,300 vessels. To meet this formidable preparation, the Confederate Navy Department in May, 1861, had one gulf steamer in commission; had the fragments of the Norfolk Navy Yard; the refuse of the harbor boats of Charleston, New Orleans, Savannah and Mobile to select from; and had, besides, the neglect of Congress and the jealousy of the other branch of the service. Spite of all these drawbacks, the rare powers of the navy officers forced themselves into notice and use. Before the close of the war, the only two rolling-mills in the Confederacy were in charge of navy officers.
March, 1861 AD (search for this): chapter 31
ce 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 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 s
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 sent to the very heart of his commerce, are too well known to need repetition here. Badly-built craft as she was for such a service, she was still more badly equipped; but so eminently successful was she that both Government and
, and worse than useless gunboats, been put into saucy and swift wasps like the Sumter, their stings must have driven northern commerce from the sea; and the United States ports would have been more effectually blockaded, from a thousand miles at sea, than were those of the southern fleet-bound coast. It may not be irrelevant here to allude to the finale of the Confederate cruisers; and to recall the most inane farce of all those enacted by the madmen who held power in 1866. In the January of that year, Raphael Semmes was seized and thrown into prison. He was now charged — not with having violated his parole given to General Grant, who was personally and morally responsible for his persecution — not with doing aught but obeying the laws themselves ; but he was charged with having escaped, the year before, from the custody of a man whose prisoner he was not and had never been — with having broken from a durance that ought to have existed! From incontrovertible testimony, we <
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