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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott



biographies: Mahan's and Laughton's lives of Nelson, Anson's LIFE OF JERVIS (1913), Clark Russell's LIFE OF COLLINGWOOD (1892), and briefer sketches in FROM HOWARD TO NELSON, ed. Laughton (1899).

For the Trafalgar campaign see:

British Admiralty blue-book on THE TACTICS OF TRAFALGAR (with bibliography, 1913), Corbett's CAMPAIGN OF TRAFALGAR (1910), Col. Desbriere's PROJETS ET TENTATIVES DE DeBARQUEMENT AUX ILES BRITANNIQUES (1902) and CAMPAGNE MARITIME DE TRAFALGAR (1907).

See also Col. C. E. Callwell's MILITARY OPERATIONS AND MARITIME PREPONDERANCE (1913), and Professor Clive Day's HISTORY OF COMMERCE (revised edition, 1911, with bibliography).



During the 19th century, from 1815 to 1898, naval power, though always an important factor in international relations, played in general a passive role. The wars which marked the unification of Germany and Italy and the thrusting back of Turkey from the Balkans were fought chiefly on land. The navy of England, though never more constantly busy in protecting her far-flung empire, was not challenged to a genuine contest for mastery of the seas. In the Greek struggle for independence there were two naval engagements of some consequence--Chios

(1822), where the Greeks with fireships destroyed a Turkish squadron and gained temporary control of the AEgean, and Navarino (1827), in which a Turkish force consisting principally of frigates was wiped out by a fleet of the western powers. But both of these actions were one-sided, and showed nothing new in types or tactics. In the American Civil War control of the sea was important and even decisive, but was overwhelmingly in the hands of the North. Hence the chief naval interest of the period lies not so much in the fighting as in the revolutionary changes in ships, weapons, and tactics--changes which parallel the extraordinary scientific progress of the century; and the engagements may be studied now, as they were studied then, as testing and illustrating the new methods and materials of naval war.

_Changes in Ships and Weapons_

Down to the middle of the 19th century there had been only a slow and slight development in ships and weapons for a period of nearly 300 years. A sailor of the Armada would soon have felt at home in a three-decker of 1815. But he would have been helpless as a child in the fire-driven iron monsters that fought at Hampton Roads. The shift from sail to steam, from oak to iron, from shot to shell, and from muzzle-loading smoothbore to breech-loading rifle began about 1850; and progress thereafter was so swift that an up-to-date ship of each succeeding decade was capable of defeating a whole squadron of ten years before. Success came to depend on the adaptability and mechanical skill of personnel, as well as their courage and discipline, and also upon the progressive spirit of constructors and naval experts, faced with the most difficult problems, the wrong solution of which would mean the waste of millions of dollars and possible defeat in war. Every change had to overcome the spirit of conservatism inherent in military organizations, where seniority rules, errors are sanctified by age, and every innovation upsets cherished routine. Thus in the contract for Ericsson's _Monitor_ it was stipulated that she should have masts, spars, and sails!

The first successful steamboat for commerce was, as is well known, Robert Fulton's flat-bottomed side-wheeler _Clermont_, which in August, 1807, made the 150 miles from New York to Albany in 32 hours. During the war of 1812 Fulton designed for coast defense a heavily timbered, double-ender floating battery, with a single paddle-wheel located inside amidships. On her trial trip in 1815 this first steam man-of-war, the U. S. S. _Fulton_, carried 26 guns and made over 6 knots, but she was then laid up and was destroyed a few years later by fire. Ericsson's successful application of the screw propeller in 1837 made steam propulsion more feasible for battleships by clearing the decks and eliminating the clumsy and exposed side-wheels. The first American screw warship was the U. S. S. _Princeton_, of 1843, but every ship in the American Navy at the outbreak of the Civil War had at least auxiliary sail rig. Though by 1850 England had 30 vessels with auxiliary steam, the _Devastation_ of 1869 was the first in the British service to use steam exclusively. Long after this time old "floating museums" with sail rig and smoothbores were retained in most navies for motives of economy, and even the first ships of the American "White Squadron" were encumbered with sails and spars.

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