A Disappointed man.
, of the U. S. ship St. Louls
, having permitted the Confederate steamer Florida
to slip out of his fingers, indites an explanatory epistle to the U. S. Navy Department.
They were anchored together, the St. Louis
and the Florida
, in a neutral port, and he was watching the Florida
with extreme vigilance.
His "men were wild," he says, to have a fight with her, so very "wild," that he felt compelled to withdraw the shot from the guns, lest they should incontinently pitch into her and violate the neutrality of the port.
This was a very discreet proceeding on the part of the rational and law — abiding commander, the advantages of which are evident in keeping his country out of a bad scrape and himself out of a worse one.
We don't know whether Moffitt
has sufficiently recovered his health to resume command of the Florida
, and perhaps Capt. Preble
did not know.
Whoever commands her, we respect the sound sense of Capt. Preble
in venerating the rights of a central port.
The United States
has shown through the whole war such rigid regard to the rights of centrals, that it is pleasing to record another instance of their illustrious adhesion to international law. Virtue is its own reward, and it is gratifying to feel assured that Capt. Preble
by the same act saved the honor of his country and his own bones.
Perhaps he dimly remembered the fate of the Hatteras
When that same ship, the St. Louis
, was commanded by a hot headed South Carolinian, one Ingraham
, of Kosta fame, he defied the strong naval force of Austria
, and came near involving his country in a formidable war. But he was troubled with a "wildness," foreign to the character of calm and discreet commanders like Preble
, and so instead of taking balls out of guns, he put them in. He came out of the affair, it is true, with flying colors, and so might Proble, with the risk, however, of the colors flying the wrong way. Yet such is the irrational admiration of mankind for heroic deeds, that the name of Ingraham
will probably be associated with the St. Louis
long after that of Preble
The fact that the Florida
had steam, and the St. Louis
only sails, is mentioned by Preble
as a sufficient reason for his inability to make an effectual pursuit.
Probably the wind was ahead also; or it may have been as calm as Capt. Preble
's own mind, which no "wild" elements are ever permitted to disturb.
The U. S. Navy Department must be very unreasonable indeed if it expects a seaman to sall without wind or steam.
If they are satisfied, we are.