Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 21.djvu/175
The Cruise of the Shenandoah.
satisfactorily answered, but very few responded. It was too hazardous an undertaking, with no inducement of gain. Besides, too, the Alabama had gone down before the guns of the Kearsage, and this Shenandoah would now be the only bird left upon the water for the Federals to wing.
"The Shenandoah was built of teak, an Indian wood. She had quarter-inch iron plating, as well as iron knees and stanchions. Of 1,160 tons, English register, 320 feet in length, and 32 in breadth, her average speed was thirteen knots, though, when entirely under sail,
"Immediately after this the lashings were cast off and guns of salute in parting fired by the two vessels. The Laurel turned her prow to England and we to the south seas. Never before was a ship beset by difficulties apparently so insurmountable. Demanding a complement of 160 men, we bore away that day a ship-of-war with forty-seven men all told. Although liable at any hour to meet the challenge shot of the enemy, we entered upon our duties without fear. There was work for every man to do, and every man put his heart in his task. Boxes, trunks, casks of beef and bread, coal and ordnance, lay promiscuous about deck and below. Then, when after days of toil and with blistered hands all was stored properly below, and while the carpenter and his mates cut port holes for the guns, the captain took his trick at the wheels, and the officers and men, regardless of rank, barefooted and with trousers rolled up, scrubbed and holystoned decks. Yet in that strangely gathered body of men were some of the best blood of the South. Historic names were there. Lieutenant Lee, son of Admiral Lee, commandant of the Philadelphia navy-yard at the opening of the war, and nephew of General Robert E. Lee, was our third lieutenant, and had seen service on the Georgia and Florida. Our chief engineer and paymaster were from the Alabama, and every commissioned officer was a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and had seen previous service. But all felt the necessity of the hour, and lieutenant, assistant surgeon, boatswain, and foremost hands, of whom there were but seven in all, kept watch and watch. But at length everything was put in shipshape, halyards coiled, and decks made shining. We were then all called aft, officers and men, to 'splice the main brace,' a nautical proceeding much inveighed against by John B. Gough, Neal Dow, and other reformers.