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ing country. Any one who | teer company had taken Destruction of the

Destruction of the Gosport Navy-yard. has seen a ship burn, and formal possession in the

Gosport Navy-yard. knows how like a fiery name of Virginia, and run serpent the flame leaps from pitchy deck to up her flag from the flag-staff. In another smoking shrouds, and writhes to their very hour, several companies were on hand, and top around the masts, that stand like mar- men were at work unspiking cannon, and by tyrs doomed, can form some idea of the won- nine o'clock they were moving them to the derful display that followed. It was not dock, whence they were begun to be transthirty minutes from the time the trains were ferred, on keels, to points below, where sand fired, till the conflagration roared like a hur- batteries were to be built. Notwithstanding ricane, and the flames from land and water the effort to keep out persons from the yard, swayed, and met, and mingled together, and hundreds found their way in, and spent darted high, and fell, and leaped up again, hours in wandering over its spacious area, and by their very motion showed their sym- and inspecting its yet stupendous works, pathy with the crackling, crashing roar of and comparing the value of that saved with destruction beneath. But in all this magni- that lost.” ficent scene, the old ship Pennsylvania was This same writer, who, evidently, was in the centre-piece. She was a very giant in the Commodore's confidence, further added : death, as she had been in life. She was a “There was general surprise expressed that sea of flame, and when the iron had entered so much that was valuable was spared. The into her soul,' and her bowels were consum- Secessionists forgot that it was only the iming, then did she spout from every port-hole mediate agencies of war that it was worth of every deck, torrents and cataracts of fire, while to destroy. Long before the workthat to the mind of Milton would have rep- shops and armories, the foundries and shipresented her a frigate of hell, pouring out wood, left unharmed can bring forth new unremitting broadsides of infernal fire. Sev- weapons of offense, this war will be ended. eral of her guns were left loaded, but not And may be, as of yore, the Stars and Stripes shotted, and as the fire reached them, they will float over Gosport Navy-yard. All that sent out on the startled morning air minute is now spared will then be so much gained !" guns of fearful peal, that added greatly Long before they could be used the war to the alarm that the light of the confla- would be ended! What hallucination! In gration had spread through the surrounding one month's time the harbor was impregnacountry. The Pennsylvania burnt like a vol- ble to approach, and three thousand men cano for five hours and a half, before her were busy restoring the entire property to its mainmast fell. I stood watching the proud full efficiency. The succeeding history of but perishing old leviathan as this sign of that Navy-yard-of the resurrected guns and her manhood was about to come down. At restored frigate Merrimacwill not fail to precisely nine and a half o'clock, by my retlect severely upon the Department which watch, the tall tree that stood in her centre ordered the destruction and abandonment of tottered and fell, and crushed deep into her the post, and of the miserably inefficient burning sides, while storm of sparks flood-manner in which the questionable order was

executed.* “As soon as the Parence and Cumberland

The report made by the Senate committee had fairly left the waters, and were known (Messrs. Hale, Johnson of Tenn., and Grimes), to be gone, the gathering crowds of Portsmouth and Norfolk burst open the gates of

* An amusing construction was placed by Mr. the Navy-yard and rushed in. They could Stephens, in his celebrated Atlanta address, April do nothing, however, but gaze upon the ruin 30th, upon the failure of the attempted destruction,

wherein he imputed the salvation of the greater wrought. The Commodore's residence, left

portion of the property to a direct interposition of locked but unharmed, was burst open, and Providence. The speaker's pious congratulations a pillage commenced, which was summarily contrasted oddly with the spirit betrayed toward stopped. As early as six o'clock, a volun- | the North by his people.

ed the sky.

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appointed in July, 1861, to inquire into the felt at liberty to leave within circumstances of and reasons for the destruc- a few hours after his arrival,

Investigating Com

mittee's Report. tion of property at the Gosport station and this yard and the property conat Harper's Ferry, was given to the public nected there with, in the defense of wbich he was inApril 19th, 1862, in substance as follows:

trusted, without first having determined in consulta. “ The Committee relate at

tion with Captains McCauley and Prendergrast upon Lavestigating Commitlength the facts as to the

some definite course to be pursued in the event of te's Report.

amount of property at the imminent danger to or attack upon the yard. The Norfolk Navy.yard, valued at $9,760,000, the vessels

Committee come to the following conclusions: worth nearly $2,000,000. There were in the yard at

First. The Administration of Buchanan was guil. least 2000 heavy guns, of which 300 were of the ty of negligence, in taking extraordinary care, and Dahlgren pattern.

employing every possible means to protect and de. The Administration of Mr. Buchanan must have fend this yard, after indications of danger had man. been perfectly cognizant of the series of events dis. ifested themselves. tinctly foreshadowing the civil war about to be en- Second. The Administration of Mr. Lincoln canacted; therefore, the Committee regard it as neglio not be held blameless, for suffering thirty-seven gence and dereliction of official duty of the gravest days to ela pse after he came into power before character; that it was a party to that fatal policy making a movement for the defense of the yard. of temporization and negotiation with armed and Third. Captain McCauley was highly censurable causeless rebellion against the rightful authority of for neglecting to send the Merrimac from the yard, the laws, and of scrupulous tendencies toward se- as he was ordered, and also for scuttling the ships dition, agencies which seem to have actuated the and preparing to abandon the yard before any atGovernment at that time. Want of vigor and deci- tack was made or seriously threatened, when he sion in the discharge of its duties on the part of the should have defended it, and the property intrusted new Administration was to be regarded as strange, to him, repelling force by force, as he was instruct. if not a failure to appreciate the actual condition of ed to do, if the occasion should present itself. the country, at least until the 10th of April, or thirty. Fourth. Captain Paulding was censurable for seven days after the expiration of the previous Ad neglecting to consult with Captain McCauley and ministration. The Committee can find extenuation Captain Prendergrast, while he was at the yard on in this only in that insane delusion which seemed to the 17th of April, in regard to the course to be purhave occupied the public mind that the portentous sued in the event of an attack upon the yard, and clouds that had blackened the heavens for months, also for immediately, upon his arrival at the yard on were charged with no real danger, and were to be the 20th, ordering the property to be burned, and dissipated by a continuation of forbearance which the yard abandoned, before taking proper means to had been continued so long that it had ceased to be satisfy himself that any necessity for such measures a virtue, and had become the most disgraceful weak- existed. ness and pusillanimity. Captain McCauley was in. Fifth. Captain Prendergrast, in command of the duced to believe that the peace and security of the Cumberland, the flagship of the Home Squadron, yard depended upon preserving the existing state of made no suggestions as to the measures proper to things, upon doing nothing further to excite the al. be adopted, and seems to have taken no part in the ready maddened public feeling, and who was willing transaction, except to move his ship as he was di. to see the Government lie still, and be bound haud / rected. and foot, till it should be completely in the power “ The Committee say they can suggest no remedy of the insurgents. In the threats and menaces of for the errors which they think have been proved in the mob, exaggerated by the representations of the this case. So far as the officers of the Navy are con. base and treacherous officers, who surrendered the cerned, it belongs to the Executive Department of command, and against whom he was warned, with the Government to determine what course shall be out avail, the Committee find the key to his deplora- pursued. ble conclusion; and the fact that neither he nor “ The estimation formed by that Department of Captain Paulding and Captain Prendergrast now re. the conduct of Captains McCauley, Paulding and member or acknowledge the operation of such influ. Prendergast, has been manifested by leaving the ences upon their conduct, goes far to show the in. first-named without active duty, and assigning to considerate haste, if not timidity and want of nerve, the others the commands of two of the most imporunder which they acted. The Committee cannot tant Navy-yards we have left, namely: Brooklyn understand why Captain Paulding, the special and and Philadelpbia. confidential agent of the Department, should have “ In concluding what they have thought it their

THE NEW

YORK “UNION DEFENSE COMMITTEE."

115

The New York “ Union Defense Com

mittee."

duty to say on this subject, the Committee would exigencies of the times, simply remark, that the lesson afforded by the sur deserves notice, viz. : the render of the Norfolk Navy-yard will not be wholly “New York Union Defense without its value to us, if we shall learn by it, as a

Committee"- —an organization which grew nation, that pusillanimity in the defense of our rights out of the great Union demonstration of may be as seriously injurious as the open assaults

April 20th. Twenty-six influential citizens of our enemies,”

were named by that meeting as a committee Pending these important An Extraordinary

"to represent the citizens in the collection transactions, the military Spectacle.

of funds, and the transaction of such other movements of the North

business in aid of the movements of the Gov. were of a nature to excite the astonishment of both the friends and the enemies of the The funds flowed in in heavy amounts, while

ernment, as the public interest may require.” Government. The rapidity with which regi

the New York city authorities soon placed ments filled up and hastened southward ; the the munificent sum of one million of dollars absorption into the ranks, as officers and

to be expended under the Committee's manmen, of those occupying, in many instances,

agement. Thus empowered, the work of eminent positions in commercial, political, assistance commenced; and, as the Commitreligious, and literary circles; the formation

tee stated in their report of September 19th, of societies devoted to the welfare of the

1861:

“Mainly owing to the exertions of the volunteers and their families; the heavy do

city and citizens of New York, and to the nations of individuals and corporations to zeal and efficiency of eminent officers, (par. the funds of regiments for arming, equipping, ticularly referring to General Wool, an army and sustaining them; the action of banks

was placed in the field, armed and equipped and men of wealth in placing immense sums for the defense of the National cause, in a at the disposal of States--all contributed to briefer space of time and with less expendirender the spectacle one of extraordinary so

ture of money, than, so far as any record lemnity and novelty. The Harper's Ferry shows, ever before was accomplished by any and Gosport Navy-yard affairs, the threaten-Government, no matter how great its power, ed assault on Washington and its isolated how abundant its resources, or how powerful condition, the notes of defiance which came

the motive for its action.” We should, also, up from the South, and the gathering of its in justice to New York and her sister Comarmies for a Northern campaign, while they

onwealth, Massachusetts, further quote the added intensity to the war-spirit of the Free Committee's words: “With a generous frankStates, also served to assure the people of the

ness which confers honor upon the stations necessity for providing for the common de

they fill, the chief Executive officers of the fense"—for an obstinate if not a prolonged National Government, and the distinguished struggle.

Commanding General of the army, have been The sudden call for troops found the Gen- pleased to say that the safety of the National eral Government in a comparatively help. Capital and the preservation of the archives less condition. With no stores of arms and of the Government at a moment when both ordnance to draw upon, no organized sub

were seriously menaced, may fairly be attrisistence and quartermaster departments, no buted to the prompt and efficient action of depots of clothing and camp equipment, no

the State and city of New York, united with means at its immediate disposal to provide the vigorous efforts of the noble Commonfor the immense drains upon its treasury- wealth of Massachusetts, devoted to the same the emergency was one of peril; but, the

patriotic object." As Rhode Island was patriotism of States, cities, individuals and among the pioneers — having her superb banks came to the relief, bountifully supply- regiment and splendidly-equipped battery ing all that money could secure, though the in the field with those first forward, want of arms was not fully obviated for many that little State of wise heads and busy anxious months.

hands should have been named in this roll One of these agencies, called forth by the of honor.

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