Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/288

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282 Southern Historical Society Papers.

band were taken back to Portland, where the excitement was terrific, and put in prison. Major Andrews, in making his report of their affair, said: " You can form but a faint idea of the excitement now existing among the citizens of Portland and vicinity. Rumor fol- lows rumor in rapid succession, and just before daylight this morn- ing (June agth) some one from the vicinity of the post went to the city with a fresh rumor, which set the whole city in a ferment. The bells were rung, and men, women, and children soon filled the streets, and were rushing hither and thither in aimless fright. I would respectfully suggest that the prisoners be sent from here as quietly and expeditiously as possible, as I do not think it safe for them to be placed in the custody of the citizens."

Lieutenant Read, in a letter written from Fort Warren to the Con- federate Secretary of the Navy, says: "As all our clothing was dis- tributed as relics to the people of Portland, I beg that you will, if possible, remit to Assistant- Pay master Nixon a sufficient sum of money to purchase my men a change of clothing."

Such is war, and men who enter into it must take the conse- quences. Read and his crew were kept in prison for a little over a year, when they were exchanged as prisoners of war.

The lessons to be drawn from this little episode of the war on the sea are many and valuable, not only to the naval officer, but to the country at large, and especially to those members of Congress who oppose an increase in the navy and never stop to think that the com- merce of the nation is the life of the nation, and that the destruction of that commerce is the clipping of the arteries of its wealth. That one small vessel, with twenty-two men and one gun, and a sailing- vessel at that, should have created such havoc and consternation in the days of steam, whilst forty-seven vessels (mostly steamers) were scouring the seas in search of her, is enough to make old Virgil rise up from his ashes and exclaim, "Mirabile didu!" But what could a modern fast cruiser of twenty-five knots, commanded by a resolute officer, and accompanied by a fast supply-vessel, do on our defence- less coast ? And how are we prepared for such an emergency in case of war with a maritime nation ? These subjects I leave to the consideration of those who have the fighting to do, and those who have to provide the fighting-machines. Sufficient is it to say that the country which has such officers as the commander of the Clar- ence-Tacony- Archer to depend on will not lean upon broken reeds.

ROBERT H. WOODS, Chief Clerk, Office Naval War Records, Washington, D. C.