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WAR ON THE OCEAN.
In a letter of Mr. Lincoln's for publication written in the August of 1863, summing up the results of the war and showing the people where the government then stood, he wrote, referring to the work of the navy: "Nor must Uncle Sam's web feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present, not only on the deep sea, the broad bay and the rapid river, but also up the narrow and muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, they have been and made their tracks." When Mr. Stoddard to whom the President read the letter before sending it, objected to this paragraph, Mr. Lincoln laughed and said he thought Stoddard would point at that. "I won't strike it out, though,' he added. "The plain people will like it. It's just what I mean to say.'"
And it was true. The navy had been skirting around the Southern shores, running up by
river and creek and bay into the land and in union with the army taking possession wherever this was possible. Early in 1862 General Burnside, with Commodore Goldsborough, had captured Roanoke Island in North Carolina, and shortly afterward, in concert with another naval officer, the city of Newburn, the most important seaport of North Carolina. Fort Hatteras and Port Royal in North and South Carolina had been seized by our troops in 1861, and were held. And in 1862, Fort Pulaski in Georgia was captured. And so, by these places, all through the war the stars and stripes floated over three States fighting against them, South Carolina the most violent of all in the confederacy.
But New Orleans must be captured. In the autumn of 1861 an expedition under command of Captain David G. Farragut, one of the most skilful and daring naval officers in the world, and of General Butler, who commanded the land forces, was organized to capture it. The following March Butler landed his troops on Ship Island, which is in the Gulf of Mexico between Mobile and New Orleans. This was as far as he could go until Farragut should come with his gunboats and open the way up the river. April seventeenth Farragut began to bombard the forts that guarded the approach to New Orleans by the river. He kept on bombarding for sev
eral days; but the forts would not surrender and he could not destroy them. So, he said that he would run past their guns. It was a wonderful undertaking; for the forts stood on opposite sides of the river and mounted more than one hundred heavy cannon, which swept everything that tried to pass them. And besides this, the river itself was blocked by sunken hulks, by piles and everything else which could be put into it to stop the passage of ships. And this was not all, although it seemed enough; the confederates had thirteen gunboats, an ironclad, and the ram Manassas.
The people of New Orleans boasted that all they were afraid of was that "the Northern invaders" would not come. They need not have been anxious as to Farragut's not coming! "On the night of April twenty-fourth," says Arnold, "amidst a storm of shot and shell, the darkness illuminated by the mingled fires of ships, forts and burning vessels, he passed Forts Jackson and St. Philip; he crushed through all obstructions; he destroyed the gunboats which opposed him; he steamed past the batteries; he ascended the great river and laid his broadsides to the proud city of the Southwest." Then New Orleans hauled down the confederate flag, and never had a chance to put it up again.
But not only on the bays and rivers, but on
the ocean also were there battles fought between There is time only
the North and the South. to refer to some of them.
At the beginning of the war when the naval station at Norfolk was given up to the confederacy by traitors in the navy, there were ships left in the hands of the confederates, and among them the famous "Merrimac." The confederates sheathed her sides with iron, named her the "Virginia," and in the March of 1862, she steamed down the James River, and destroyed the government vessels, the "Cumberland” and the "Congress." The "Cumberland" fought to the last and went down with flags flying. The "Minnesota," when she was coming to the aid of the "Cumberland," ran aground and was at the mercy of the terrible "Merrimac." There was terror in the North; for Washington itself seemed to be in the power of this frightful "Merrimac."
But just when we feared the most, there came floating through the water the strangest looking thing that ever called itself a vessel. This was the ironclad "Monitor," built by the famous Ericsson. It attacked the big "Merrimac" with great boldness, and fired into it again and again and again, doing much damage at every shot. But it made no difference how many broadsides the "Merrimac" fired back; they couldn't hit the
little "Monitor," for there was nothing of it to hit; it was about all under water, like a turtle. So, the North was no longer afraid of the great "Merrimac," for the little "Monitor" riddled it with shot, until it was glad enough to run to shelter. With all honor to the genius of its builder and the skill and daring of its commander, it is said that the chief credit for having the "Monitor" built and on hand at such a crisis, is due to President Lincoln.
Every one has heard of the battle between the "Kearsarge" and the "Alabama," a cruiser built in England and sailing under the confederate flag, capturing merchant vessels and with others like it doing all it could to ruin commerce. The "Alabama" was one of the worst of these cruisers. In the June of 1864, after it had been doing much damage on the seas, it put in at Cherbourg, France. Captain Winslow of the United States navy, in command of the "Kearsarge," heard of it, and started for Cherbourg, and waited for the "Alabama." The "Alabama" made ready for the fight as carefully as possible and then came out to meet the "Kearsarge. 99 There was a tremendous battle between the two ships for about an hour, and then the "Alabama" put out the white flag of surrender, and soon sank. The "Kearsarge" helped to save some of the crew. Admiral Far