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CHAP. XXXVIII.] THE NORFOLK NAVY YARD.
structed by sinking two light-ships. Captain M'Cauley suffered himself to be overpersuaded by the sinister ad vice of his junior officers, and acted with irresolution. Orpd ders had been received from Washington on April 12th to have the Merrimack instantly removed to Philadel phia, the chief engineer being sent down to Norfolk expressly for that purpose. Yet when her steam was up, and she was ready to leave, Captain M'Cauley directed her to be detained, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the engineer.
Indeed, it was not until many of his officers, who were from the Slave States, had resigned, and the Confederate general Taliaferro had arrived from Richmond, that he seemed to compre hend the condition of things. On the 19th he made preparations for abandoning the place, and commenced spik ing the guns, doing it, for the most part, ineffectually, with cut nails. Next day he promised the insurgents that none of the vessels should be taken away, nor a shot fired except in defense. He then ordered all the ships, except the Cumberland, of 24 guns, to be scuttled.. That ship, with a full armament and crew on board,
The officers in com-
though they had
i means for lay in such a position as to command the entire harbor, the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, the navy yard, and the approaches to it. The mere threat of her broadside would have quelled the trouble. The whole militia force of the place was not five hundred men, inadequately armed, and with only eight or ten little field-pieces.
government, now becoming alarmed, sent Captain Paulding from Washington with orders to take command of all the naval forces afloat at Norfolk, and defend the property of the United States, repelling force by force. He had fully 1000 men, among whom were 350 Massachusetts troops obtained at Fortress Monroe. But, in his
of the Vir
on its acquisition.
judgment, nothing remained except to complete the work of destruction, and abandon the place. The scuttled ships were in the act of settling under the water. He therefore gave directions to fire the yard and what remained of the ships. The ships, which might have been removed, were accordingly destroyed, but the shops in the yard were unaccountably spared, and were subsequently of great use to the Confederacy. A large amount of war material fell into the hands of the insurgents. A commissioner of the State of Virginia, subsequently ginia commissioner authorized to take an inventory of the property thus seized, reports: "I had purposed some remarks upon the vast importance to Virginia, and to the entire South, of the timely acquisition of this extensive naval dépôt, with its immense supplies of munitions of war, and to notice briefly the damaging effects of its loss to the government at Washington; but I deem it unnecessary, since the presence, at almost every exposed point on the whole Southern coast, and at numerous inland intrenched camps in the several states, of heavy pieces of ordnance, with their equipments and fixed ammunition, all supplied from this establishment, fully attests the one, while the unwillingness of the enemy to attempt demonstrations at any point, from which he is obviously deterred by the knowledge of its well-fortified condition, abundantly proves the other, especially when it is considered that both he and we are wholly indebted for our means of resistance to his loss and our acquisition of the Gosport navy yard."
This great national disaster, which, as thus affirmed, in reality armed the South, and gave it the means of resistance to the government, must be imputed partly to irresolution at Washington, and partly to the indecision of the commanding officer. The money loss to the government was great,
THE NORFOLK NAVY YARD.
but it was a totally inadequate measure of the intrinsic value of the war material at that moment. The South was armed and the North disarmed. The indirect consequences were of incalculable importance. When Captain M'Cauley gave orders that the frigate Merrimack should not sail, and thereby left her to be raised and converted into an iron-clad ram, he closed the James River, and prepared unspeakable disasters for the subsequent peninsular campaign.
THE NORFOLK NAVY YARD.
A select committee of the Senate of the United States, directed to inquire into these subjects, reported that, in their judgment, (1.) The administration of Mr. Buchanan was guilty of neglect in not taking extraordinary care and employing every possible means to protect and defend the Norfolk navy yard after indications of danger had manifested themselves; (2.) The administration of Mr. Lincoln can not be held blameless for suffering thirty-seven days to elapse after he came into power before making a movement for the defense of the yard; (3.) Captain M'Cauley was highly censurable for neglecting to send the Merrimack from the yard as he was ordered, and also for scuttling the ships and preparing to abandon the yard before any attack was made or seriously threatened, when he should have defended it and the property intrusted to him, repelling force by force, as he was instructed to do if the occasion should present itself. Captain Paulding was likewise considered by the committee to be censurable for ordering the property to be burned and the yard abandoned before taking proper means to satisfy himself any necessity for such measures existed.
Report of the Sen-
Thus Virginia severed her connection with that republic which her great men of the former generation had
RICHMOND THE CONFEDERATE CAPITAL.
done so much to establish, and which she had so long ruled. She accepted a measure leading at once to civil war, to public calamity, and domestic sorrow. Few social lessons can be more instructive than her ex
Richmond as the
Confederate cap- periences in the four following years while Richmond had the vain glory of being the capital of the new Confederacy-experiences which have been recorded by her own people. Let us lister to what one of her daughters relates-the serpent beguiled her and she did eat-in a very instructive little volume she tells us how the apple of secession tasted.
She says that during the Secession Convention the hall of meeting became the favorite place of resort of the women, who occasionally engaged in political discussions in the intervals of the meetings of the members. Every woman in Richmond was a politician. On the ordinance of secession being passed, the people were in a delirium of joy; the cannon were saluting, the bells ringing, neighbors shaking hands with each other, the ladies waving their handkerchiefs. In the evening there was an illumination, the favorite form being the Southern cross; the sky was alive with Roman candles and variegated rockets. At this time Richmond was in a very prosperous condition; its trade was flourishing, articles of food and clothing were very cheap, and pauperism was actually unknown. All this was, however, considered as nothing in comparison with the prosperity which it was expected that secession would bring. The clergy, forgetting the terrible denunciation that Jefferson had formerly pronounced against slavery, declared that the smiles of God were upon the cause; and it was thought to be more than a mere omen that on the Sunday following the passage of the ordi nance there occurred in the lesson for the day, as read in the Episcopal churches, the words "I will
The delight of its inhabitants at secession.
III.] SOCIAL CONDITION OF RICHMOND.
remove far off from you the Northern army, and will
drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder parts to the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savor shall come up, because he hath done great things."
Soon, however, the population began to change, and Gradual changes in strange faces appeared in the streets. SolRichmond society. diers from the Cotton States were pouring in. They were followed by that loose society, male and female, which always hovers round armies. The first regiments that appeared were from South Carolina. They received a hearty welcome. The gay throng who had lately crowded the halls of the Secession Convention was now wandering through the camps. But the pride of
An elegant establishment was provided for President Davis. Receptions like those in the White House at Washington were held. It was necessary that every man should appear in the streets in a military garb. There was the réveille in the morning, and taps at night. In the autumn of that first year of the war the weather was more beautiful than for a long time had been known; the Indian summer brought an exquisite dreamy haze; the gorgeous foliage of the forest
The president and