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however, formidable ships, and in deep suffered by a wooden vessel. Captain water, with ample sea-room, must be most Charlewood, of the Royal Navy, who repowerful antagonists.
cently commanded the iron frigate GuaThe importance attached by England daloupe in the service of Mexico, testified to mail -clad steamers may be inferred before a Committee of the British Parliafrom the debates in the House of Lords ment, that “his ship was under fire alon the 11th and 14th of June, 1861, in most daily for four or five months,” that which it was officially stated that the Gov- “ the damage by shot was considerably ernment had not authorized the construc- less than that usually suffered by a woodtion of a single wooden three-decker since en vessel, and that there was nothing like 1855, nor one wooden two-decker since the number of splinters which are gener1859, although it had launched a few up- ally forced out by a shot sent through a on the stocks for the purpose of clearing wooden vessel's side”; that “the vessel the yards, — and that it now contemplat- was hulled once in the mid-ship part at cd cutting down a number of the largest about one thousand yards,” and the effect wooden steamships of the line for the " that the shot passed through the purpose of plating them with iron, while iron, making a round hole in the iron "; it was constructing nothing but iron ships, " that at two feet below water” another except a few light despatch frigates, cor- shot passed through the vessel's side and vettes, and gun-boats.
one or two casks of provisions, and that In the same debate it was stated that the hole was simply plugged by the enbolts of steel had been forced by improv- gineer at the time.” He testified also that ed Armstrong cannon through an eight- none of the shot disturbed any rivets. inch mail composed of iron bars dove. His evidence is the more valuable as it tailed together ; but the quality of the relates to an inferior vessel, whose plates iron and the mode of fastening were both were probably not more than half an inch questioned. These experiments did not thick. deter the Government from constructing The testimony of Captain W. H. Hall, mail-clad steamships. Indeed, it must be R. N., in command of the iron frigate obvious that the great cost of Armstrong Nemesis, in the Chinese war, was still cannon, fifteen hundred to two thousand more conclusive in favor of iron. He dollars each, together with the cost of steel stated, “ that in one action the Nemesis bolts, combined with the fact that this de- was hit fourteen times," and that one shot scription of cannon is easily shattered, if " went in at one side and came out at the struck by a ball from the adversary, must other, and there were no splinters; in case long prevent its introduction into use ; of that shot, it went through just as if you and should it eventually succeed, it must put your finger through a piece of paper: prove far more destructive to wooden nothing could have been more easily stopwalls than to iron-clad vessels.
ped than I could have stopped that shot It has, however, been urged in England in the Nemesis”; that “ several wooden against iron ships of all descriptions, but steamers were employed in that service, more as a theory than as an ascertained and they were invariably obliged to lie fact, that a solid shot would make a large up for repairs, whilst I could repair the and irregular aperture, if it entered the Nemesis in twenty-four hours and have side of a vessel, and a much larger orifice her always ready for service.” The Nemas it passed out on the opposite side. To esis was a common iron steamer, and not this theory, however, there are two an- a mail-clad steamship. swers : first, that a solid ball can neither As respects the strength and durability enter nor pass out of the sides of a mail- of these steamers, although accidents have clad steamer; second, that, when it enters occurred from defective materials, it is in a common iron ship, there is evidence proof that the Tyne and Great Britain that it does less damage than would be ran ashore and remained for months ex
posed to the open sea without going to pie- will notice many plates of superior iron ces, and were finally rescued, - that the from the rolling-mills of Baltimore, comPersia struck on an iceberg, filled one of bining the toughness and strength and her compartments with water, and came other excellences of the best Pennsylvasafe to port,- that the North America and nia iron ; he will notice, too, immense Edinburgh went at full speed upon the ribs and beams of iron, and hear the inrocks near Cape Race and yet escaped, - cessant din of hammers riveting the sides and that the Sarah Sands, while trans and boilers. porting troops to India, took fire, that in Under each of these sheds he will find consequence the interior and contents of
an iron steamship, two hundred and sevone of her compartments were entirely enty-five feet in length by twenty-three consumed, that her magazine exploded, in depth, exquisitely proportioned; he and that she then encountered a ten days' will be struck by the fine entrance and gale, and after this exposure to such a run. The extreme sharpness of the stem series of calamities she reached her port and stern, combined with great capacity, without losing one of her crew or pas seems to answer every requirement; and sengers.
he will be surprised to learn that the The ambition of England to maintain draught of these steamers is but sixteen her ascendancy upon the deep has led feet when deeply laden, and that their her to disregard the advice of her De- engines of thirteen hundred horse-power fence Commissioners, who recommended are expected to give them a speed of a different class of mail-clad steamers, fifteen knots per hour. When they reach to measure but two thousand tons and to their destined element and have received draw but sixteen feet of water, - a class their lading, the height from the wateradmirably adapted to the sea-ports and line to the deck will be but seven feet; requirements of the United States. And hence it is apparent that a belt of iron singular as it may appear, by some coin- plates carried around them of eight feet cidence at a moment when our country four inches in height would protect them requires this class of steamers, the en from the deck to a point sixteen inches terprise of Boston is completing two iron below the water-line, or from the bottom steamers whose dimensions and draught of the deck-beams to a point two feet beof water conform to the recommendation low the water-line. of the British Commissioners, – steamers The iron plates which form the sides which are nearly ready for launching, but of these ships range in thickness from which, if they can receive, before they one inch below the water-line to threeleave the stocks, additional plates of iron, fourths of an inch above it. And if we would doubtless prove the most useful and allow for the superior strength and toughefficient mail-clad vessels which have yet ness of American iron, an additional plate been constructed.
of three inches in thickness would suffice The stranger who would inspect these to give them more strength than that of beautiful vessels may seat himself at al either the French or English mail-clad most any hour of the day in the cars steamers. at the foot of Summer Street, and in By careful computation we have ascertwenty minutes find himself at a point tained that each vessel might be encira little north of the Perkins Asylum for cled by such plates, weighing but one the Blind. A walk of five minutes more hundred and twenty pounds per superfiwill bring him to a secluded yard sloping cial foot, and have her bulwarks plated gently towards the water, where he will also, without adding more than three hun find extensive offices, and two large build dred tons to her weight, - actually less ings which cover the vessels upon the than one-third of the cargo she was destocks.
signed to carry. With an extra plankAs he approaches these structures, he ing within, and an armament of twenty
four rifled fifty-pounders or Whitworth sloops-of-war, like the best now in our cannon, and select crews, such vessels service; and, with the materials and armaneed fear no antagonists upon the deep. ment now on hand, an outlay of twentyLow in the hull, they would offer but five or thirty millions well applied may little surface to the fire of the enemy, suffice for the construction of the whole. and their sides would be impervious to With such a provision we need feel no shot and shell. Beneath the decks they solicitude as to the intervention of Engcould carry in safety a whole regiment land or France in our domestic affairs. of troops. Selecting their position by su- The lighter steamships of wood will perior speed, they could destroy a fleet answer for long voyages to the Mediterof wooden steamers or ships-of-the-line. ranean, the coast of Africa, India, and Entering any of our large seaports, they the Pacific, and will protect our grain, could pass the fortress at the entrance flour, and corn, on their way from the uninjured, and lay cities under contribu- West to Europe. Our iron steamers will tion, or destroy their ports, without being, defend our commercial cities from attack like Achilles, or the English - Warrior," or blockade; they will level all rebel batvulnerable in the heel.
teries on the waters of the Chesapeake; When such steamers come into gen- they can batter down the fortresses of the eral use, we shall hear no more of the Southern coast, and restore to commerce wooden walls of Greece or England, or the ports of Charleston, Savannah, Penof those modern platforms which had not sacola, Mobile, Apalachicola, New Ora stick of sound oak timber in them, – leans, and Galveston. nothing, indeed, but pitch-pine and cy- Most fortunately for our country, at press. Oak, pine, and cypress would fall a moment when we cannot immediately into the same category, when contrasted command the live oak of Georgia and with the imperishable iron. Some new Florida, the oak plank of Virginia, or agency of steel must be invented to cope the yellow pine of the Carolinas, we have with the adamantine iron. And it be- the most abundant supplies of iron easily comes our Government, both for the arma- accessible, and now, relieved from the dement of our ships and for defence against mands of railways and factories, ready for iron steamers, to adopt at the earliest mo- the construction of our iron navy. The ment every improvement in rifled can- iron plates of Pennsylvania and Marynon.
land in strength and toughness know no The Navy Department has recently superior. The iron mountain , near St. put under contract seven steamships and Louis and the mines on Lake Champlain several steam gun-boats. They have in- furnish also an article of great purity and trusted the latter to some of the ablest excellence. But, choice as are these deship-builders of the country, and it is well posits of iron, they are all surpassed by understood that most of these vessels are the more recent discoveries on Lake Suto be completed the present season. This perior, now opened by the ship-canal at measure, as far as it goes, is eminently the Straits of St. Mary. There Nature wise ; but our navy must still be below has stored an inexhaustible amount of the requirements of the nation, and en- the richest iron ore, free from sulphur, tirely disproportioned to the extent both phosphorus, arsenic, and other deleteriof our commerce and of our sea-coast. ous substances, protruding above the surAt a low estimate, our country requires face of hillocks and underlying the counan additional supply of at least six mail- try for miles in extent. This ore is of clad steam frigates, twelve steam sloops- the specular and magnetic kind, yields of-war, and twelve steam gun-boats, with sixty-five per cent. of iron of remarkasimilar armor. It will require also for ble purity, is easily mined and transportlong voyages and distant stations a dozen ed to the Lake, and is shipped in vast steam frigates of wood, and as many steam quantities to the ports of Lake Erie, where it meets the coal of Ohio. At least ten many idle hands in motion, which would companies are now engaged in its ship- otherwise be unproductive during war, ment, which has progressed thus far with — the miners of Michigan, Ohio, Penngreat rapidity, doubling every year. The sylvania, and New York, the colliers of shipments from Lake Superior, in 1858, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the mariners of were thirty thousand five hundred and the Lakes, the navigators of canals, and twenty-seven tons; in 1859, eighty thou- the operatives of railways, down to the sand tons; in 1860, one hundred and fif- brawny smiths who fashion the metal inty thousand tons. So great are the mag- to shapes, — until their combined efforts netic powers of this iron, that, buried as launch it upon the deep, and send it forth it was in the depths of the forest and be- to neath the surface of the earth, it disturbed “ dare the very elements to strife.” the compasses of the United States sur- How much better would it be to create veyors while engaged in the survey of such an iron navy than to expend million Northern Michigan. For a time their after million on wooden walls that must needle would not work, and they were soon perish by decay or the shells of the obliged temporarily to suspend their oper- enemy, or to lavish three or four millions ations. Their embarrassment led to the upon the conversion of our superannuated discovery of these vast deposits of ore. ships-of-the-line into steamships! These, It is now mingled with the inferior ore when converted, will still retain their age of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and exten- and constant tendency to decay, their sively wrought.
models long since abandoned, their origOur nation has strong motives to in- inal design, height of decks, and other duce it to construct an iron navy. proportions adapted to the eighteen- and
First. The adoption of such a navy by twenty-four-pounders formerly in use, the great powers of Europe, — England which are now giving place to Dahlgren and France, — followed by Russia, Aus- and rifled cannon carrying balls of sixtytria, and Spain. Our commerce will be four to one hundred pounds weight. Such in danger, if they once acquire the pow- an expenditure would be like an essay to er of assailing us with impunity.
convert a Yankee shingle-palace, such as Second. Our urgent want of this class Irving described half a century ago, inof vessels to recover our fortresses, repel to a modern villa, and reminds one of a blockades, and reopen our Southern ports, proposition made to an assembly some without wearisome sieges, costly both in twenty centuries since, which still has its blood and treasure.
significance. Third. Our inability to command our An orator had proposed to convert an customary supplies of durable timber. old politician into a general; but a citi
Fourth. The abundance of iron, unri- zen moved an amendment to convert valled in any part of the world.
donkeys into horses, and when the possiFifth. The durability of the ships con- bility of doing so was questioned, argued structed from iron. If well manned and that the horses were necessary for the piloted, they will seldom need repairs; war, and that his measure was as feasiand instead of failing, as many ships do in ble as the other. the sixth year, and requiring vast expen- To prepare our nation for war, let us ditures to discharge and dismantle them select the Enfield rifle, the Colt revolver, for the renewal of the decaying timber, the rifled and cast-steel cannon, the mailplank, copper, and other materials, often clad steamer, and not resort to flint aramounting in the aggregate to more than row-heads and tomahawks, or to any oththeir original cost, the mail-clad steamers er fossil remains of antiquity. The policy built of American iron will outlive suc- of creating an iron navy has been repeatcessive races of wooden steamships. The edly urged of late in the foreign journals. iron such a navy would require will put It has also been advocated with signal
ability by Donald McKay of Boston, one self accustomed to work on wood, and a of our most eminent naval constructors, candidate for employment as builder of .who, after building the Great Republic, some of our wooden gun-boats, with great the Flying Cloud, and a fleet of other frankness as well as boldness he urges
the celebrated clippers, has visited the dock construction of mail-clad steamers. We yards of France and England, examined trust Congress will no longer neglect so their mail-clad ships upon the stocks and important a means of protecting our nathose already finished. Although him- tional prosperity.
FATHER of Mercies, Heavenly Friend,
We seek Thy gracious throne;
Our fainting hearts are known!
From blasts that chill, from suns that smite,
From every plague that harms;
Protect our men-at-arms !
Though from our darkened lives they take
What makes our life most dear,
With no relenting tear.
Our blood their flowing veins will shed,
Their wounds our breasts will share;
Or grant us strength to bear!
Let each unhallowed cause that brings
The stern destroyer cease,
And seraphs whisper Peace !
Thine are the sceptre and the sword,
Stretch forth Thy mighty hand, -
Rule Thou our throneless land!