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The naval revolution in England.
the contest between iron and cannon.
efforts of the British Admiralty.
what the British Government is doing.
[correspondence of the Manchester Guardian.]

London, April 8.
--The change of tone in the loading members of the Government on the subject of armor- plated ships, has not come a moment too soon, and has given a satisfaction as general as the dissatisfaction with the language of its former organs, Sir G. C. Lewis and Lord Clarence Paget. The Duke of Somerset, who unites many qualities of an excellent man of business with some of the most repellent personal peculiarities that ever raised a barrier about a Government official, did a good deal to remove the effect of Lord Clarence Paget's ill-advised language, and Lord Palmerston, by his acquiescence in Mr. Bernal Osborne's motion, has completed the good work of re-assuring the nation.

The feeling that it would be monstrous to press on our enormous expenditure of brick and mortar and stone fortifications, in the face of recent facts in Hampton Roads, was too general for the Government to resist, had the engineering voice been ever so potential in Pall Mall. Lord Palmers on bad felt the pulse of Parliament, and conceded in time to avoid a detect. The execution of the fortification projects once, arrested, if prevalent expectations are borne out, will be finally stopped, and Government will compensate the contractors, and have done with the scheme at Portsmouth certainly, and most probably elsewhere. I hear nothing but satisfaction expressed at our rescue from what nineteen out of every twenty people who have any right to express an opinion, seem to consider as a waste of money.

To judge by what I hear, I should describe the sentiment that armor-plated floating batteries are the cheapest and most effectual protection of our coasts and harbors as universal. At the same time, in their senses endorses such as that our navy is reduced to two ships, because the Carrier and Defence are the only two plated ships actually afloat. Or if England is to be set down as having only two ships, she is still, it is insisted upon, ahead of all her rivals, at France has but one iron-plated ship, La Gloire, and the United States can only boast the monitor.

Plated ships on the stocks.

It has been already stated that orders have been transmitted from the admiralty to the different dock-yards directing the discontinuance of all works connected with shipbuilding, excepting those of an urgent character. We now read in the Army the Navy Gazette:

It is proposed, if no difficulty be raised on the part of the professional advisers of the Department of the Comptroller of the Navy, to cut down some of our now almost useless wooden three deckers and place them, not exactly perhaps, Merrimac, but in such manner as will render them much more effective as means of defence than even this now celebrated vessel could possibly be Among those ships already named to be subject to this process is the Wellington, once considered the finest and most powerfully armed ship in the British navy.

The London Times gives some additional information on this subject:

On Friday one of the finest ships in Her Majesty's navy was removed from her moorings up the harbor of Portsmouth, and placed alongside the dockyard. The necessary preparations were at once begun for cutting off her upper and main decks to convert be from a screw three-decker to a 12 gun shield ship, on Captain Cores's plan. The ship thus selected to take the lead in this fresh regeneration of the navy is the Royal Sovereign.--She is 3,750 tons burthen, builders' measurement; is 24 feet 6 inches long between per particulars, and has extreme bread of 60 feet. The resources of Portsmouth Dockyard are now principally employed on front case ships — the Black Prince in No. 10 dock, the Royal Alfred, preparing for plating in No. 5 building ship, and the Royal Sovereign. All work by the shipwrights is for the present suspended on two out of the three wooden vessels building — the Dryard, 50-gun frigate, and the Harlequin, 17-gun . The third wooden vessel, the Hidden, 1-gun paddle dispatch steamer, has still a few hands employed in completing her frame for planking.

The Lords of the Admiralty have decided on converting the 91 gun line of battle steamer Bulwark 2,716 tons, 1,000 horse power, now on the stocks at Chatham Dockyard, into an armor-plated frigate similar to the Royal Oak, under construction at that establishment, as soon as the latter vessel is completed. The Bulwark is about three fourth completed. She will require to have one of her decks cut down, and to be lengthened amidships, and otherwise strengthened, to hear the heavy armor-plate with which she will be encased. It is probable that the screw- frigate Belvidere, 51 guns, 3,027 tons building on the adjoining ship, will also be completed as an armor frigate. There is also a 32-gun screw-corvette partially completed at Chatham Dockyard, with a 17-gun screw-steamer, the whole of the hands from both of which have been withdrawn, in order to enable the Admiralty to decide what course should be taken with regard to the completion of these vessels according to the original designs.

A Preposition from Captain Coles.

Captain Cowper Coles, in a letter to the London Times, complains strongly of the red tapeism which so long stood in the way of the adoption of his principle of ship building, which Captain Ericsson has so cleverly pirated. He asserts, however, that the present Admiralty, since the experiments ordered six months ago in the Trusty, have been most anxious to develop the invention. The gallant Captain says:

‘ "I will guarantee to build two of my shot-proof rafts, with 300 pounders and revolving shields, (giving them a little more length, depth and speed,) for £60,000 each, and they would inevitably dispute the entrance to Solthead against the Warrior, or vessels of that class, or would most certainly either destroy or drive them away. Then, if in peace times we only had a few of these vessels as patterns at each port, in case of war, or the chance of it, with the powers of our mercantile dockyards, our rivers and coasts could swarm with them in an incredibly short time. They would be manned by our coast volunteers and scab and population, giving us a stimulus for voluntary service, with a specific understanding as to where and in what vessels they would have to fight for the protection of their own shores and homes. It is of great importance that I should make it clearly understood that we must have two distinct classes of iron vessels.--one to supersede wooden frigates and line-of-battle ships for sea service and the other for the special protection of our coasts. For both these classes of vessels my principle is equally applicable; it is quite optional whether they are rigged or not."

The duty of Government.
[from the London Times.]

Nobody pretends to say that the Monitor and Merrimac are good sea going ships, or desirable models for us to follow. What we have been aught by the American example is not the relative efficiency of one class of iron ships as compared with another, but the absolute and immeasurable superiority of any iron ship, however imperfectly constructed, to any wooden ship or ships, however powerful. The defects remarked in the American models do not make the genuine case so much the stronger. If a mere makeshift like the Merrimac, rudely extemporized with imperforate means on the spur of the moment, could destroy the finest ships and defy the strongest forts of the Federal Government, what would a first rate specimen of the class not accomplish? If a cheap and half-seaworthy battery like the Monitor — the very first experiment of her projector — could bring the Merimac at bay, what may not be done on further trial? As it was, the first appearance of an iron-cased frigate on the sea would, except for the accidental appearance of another like her, have affected the issue of a mighty war. Even now the consequence of doubling a few bars of railway iron across a ship's dock can hardly be foreseen.

The armament of the Merrimac.

Capt. Blakely, the inventor of the gun to which his name is affixed, writes to the London Times:

‘ "It may interest your readers to know that the Merrimac carried 7½ inch rifled cannon, which throw weighing 120 pound, the charge of powder being 21 pounds. The guns of the monitor were 11 inches in diameter, but threw round shot weighing 80 pounds, and the powder charge only 12 pounds. An ordinary 68-pounder would have done twice the damage at short range. Indeed, even the Merrimac's guns to have done no harm to the Monitor, although the same shot pierced both sides of the Congress and Cumberland. I venture to think, therefore, that the advocates of 300 pounders are in error in supposing that guns of that size can injure an iron-plated vessel.

"To defend a harbor against a Merrimac or Monitor, I should myself line other a steam ram, carrying and cannon and also a lighter and faster ship, carrying only one of two whose ship could crush in the side of any armor-plated ship afloat. I cannot believe any shot of less than 700 lbs. (and that to be fired with at least 80 pounds of gunpowder) can do this. If I am right, then, one ship armed with 100-pounders would

be a match for four exactly similar ships carrying 800 pounders all only using their guns. The calculation is simple. The ship can carry three times as many 100 pounders as 800 pounders; she can fire each 100 pounder three times as fact as each 300-pounder; and each 100 pounder has 40 per cent. more chance of entering a port-hole than a 300-pounder, making an advantage of twelve to one in favor of 100-pounders. On the other hand, we may admit that a 300 pound shot would kill a man three times as effectually as a 100-pounder.--As Sir William Armstrong is not likely to produce a 100-pounder for some time — the movable breech-piece would weigh 1,000 pounds--England has no choice that I can see but to provide herself with steam rams, or make arrangements to ransom her seaports."

Opinions of the French press.
[from the Paris Pays April 5.]

Let us suppose a case of war. One of those English frigates perceives an enemy's iron-cased vessel, gives chase and comes up with her. The latter, smaller and less heavily armed, but perfectly under command, moderates her speed and resolutely prepares for action. The English vessel, unless she runs past her or comes to action at a distance which would be disadvantageous, is obliged to regulate her steerageway by that of her adversary, and whilst the latter can command her movements at will, the former, which is not acted on by her helm, other resources than to use her large teeth at such rare moments as the enemy's vessel shall be unskillful enough to expose herself to their bite. The issue of the struggle probably would not be doubtful. Such is now the state of the best and finest iron-clad English vessels. The Admiralty are endeavoring to find a remedy for these defects. Will at succeed? We are, therefore, right in saying that England, pursue by the importunate phantom of an invasion, impossibly in our day, so propitious to treaties of commerce, has formed an exaggerated idea to herself of the importance of defence.

She has only understood a part of the problem which we have solved. Why, there are, has she not endeavored to build mentor the sea-going qualities which render them navigation? Why? We do not know; but it is well known that she will find it out, and public opinion has already comprehended this truth, that when sea-going qualities cannot be united of resistance, Combat is accidental; navigation is the normal state. Armor was thrown aside, because in overloading the soldier it prevented that activity of movement which is the file or his conditions. We shall in the same manner come to the system of overloading vessels as little as possible — that is to say, not to encumber them with too heavy iron casings and confine ourselves to merely applying them to the water line, in order to them from the effect of in that part, and preserve them from me. We think that to the present time nothing more than that has been done in France; she experienced seamen, whose opinion is entitled to respect consider that new system of naval on a par with the progress of the age. At all events, we do not spend enormous sums of money, and defence is secure.

[from the Paris Tempt, April 5.]

It does not the less remain established that the age of wooden vessels is passed. The Federal vessel, the Cumberland, cut open by the spur of the Merrimac, going with all her crew, courageously firing her last broadside, cannot remembered without point. If the Monitor had not arrived the same perhaps, the which had not less than seven hundred men on board. Naval warfare in future will probably of two of ships — iron-cased vessels, which cannot be boarded, destined especially to operate on the coasts and against fortresses; and steam vessels of great speed, capable of escaping by fight from the formidable artillery of the and employed for distant expeditions.--Ordinary steamships will, perhaps, one day serve as simple tugs to the floating batteries, which in this matter might serve in the attack of the enemies' and cover invasions. In the English Parliament it has already been proposed to protect the fortifications in order to place them in a condition to resist the new vessels. Who knows if in ordinary stages the system of attack of Vanban will not be renounced, and if means will not be found to push forward on railways revolving towers with heavy guns?

The duel has commenced between iron and cannon, and if in naval battles we are brought back to the spurs of the Panic were, ordinary wars will perhaps to us something like those monstrous machines which were made use of in the sieges of antiquity. It is important to nations which care to preserve their position not to allow themselves to be distanced in the struggle. The engineer Ericsson, in constructing the Monitor, has had the merit of creating the first vessel which may be really called invulnerable. The English iron- plated frigates cannot pretend to that title, as they are not entirely covered with iron; and, secondly, as their deck is open, the same as in the French vessels, so that the Gloire as well as the Warrior is liable to be boarded. France has reason to congratulate herself on having adopted for her iron-clad vessels a smaller model than that used in England; but she must also turn to account the important lessons which the Americans have given us. She must, at the same time, continue the improvement in artillery that she has commenced. The substitution of cylindrical for cylindrical-conical is, we know, one of the questions on which our scientific officers are now occupied; it will, perhaps, furnish a means of efficaciously resisting the armor covered ships.

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