The Uncertain Factors in Naval Conflicts

THE outbreak of war has filled our people with forebodings as to the possible result of a naval conflict, and in the mind of the non-technical citizen the battleship has become almost the synonym for disaster. This huge machine is considered uncertain, unwieldy, and unsafe, and the friends of our sailors are awaiting anxiously the experiments which must determine its place in the system of national defense. When a landsman, or even a sailor of the old navy, steps on board a modern battleship, he finds himself in an unknown country. The crew is probably scattered and hidden away in small compartments, and a few forbidding guns look out at the visitor from behind heavy masses of metal; altogether there is a decided air of unfriendliness which leaves him depressed and uncertain. It is the unknownness, like that which strikes a lad upon entering a vast forest.

No nation has had really decisive practical experience with modern weapons at sea, and we have proceeded upon theory as invention after invention has been added to our resources. The past generation has witnessed a complete revolution in the manufacture of guns, armor, machinery, and ships. Those, therefore, who have not learned the naval profession have a natural lack of confidence. The newspapers have contained many illustrations of terrific conflicts, in which ships have been drawn crashing into one another, and plunging into the depths, carrying men and guns down with them. One of the pictorial weeklies has gone so far as to represent a battleship as a huge sphinx. Only a few months ago, a Japanese periodical gave us a picture of the battle of the Yalu in a crosssection of the sky, air, water, and earth. Bombs were bursting in the air, ships were plunging into the water, and men in submarine armor were hacking at one another with battle-axes on the bottom of the sea.

Something like this picture, it would seem, must be present in the minds of many over - anxious people, no doubt strongly impressed upon them by the disasters which have occurred to warships during the past few years. The ill-fated Captain which capsized in the British Channel, the Victoria sunk by collision, and lately the Maine have partly destroyed our faith in every floating thing made of iron or steel. People forget that about the time the Captain was capsized the English wooden sailing vessel Eurydice suffered the same fate off the Isle of Wight; that her sister ship left the West Indies never to be heard of again ; that although the Victoria was sunk by a ram, so also was the wooden frigate Cumberland when struck by the Merrimac ; and that the end of the Maine was paralleled by that of the Albemarle. We have lost our terror of wooden sailing vessels through centuries of use and the traditional reliability of the hearts of oak.

There is really no essential difference, as an element of danger, between wood and metal when properly used. A wooden pail and an iron kettle will float equally well if they displace the same amount of water ; and if they have holes of the same size punched below the water-line they will sink with equal rapidity, and will carry the same weights down with them. The only difference in the two cases is the element of time ; but with the same reserve of buoyancy this difference is reduced to a minimum. The complexity of a ship’s construction and the enormous increase in the power of our weapons account in a large measure for the uncertainty felt throughout our own country, and the curiosity in all other parts of the world to see how the new things are going to work in skillful hands. It is a sad fate which forces the latest builder of a navy to make a trial of its ships. Humanity might be better off if the problem were never solved, and if we could go on for centuries building upon theory.

Have our doubts any justification ? Have the modern guns and torpedoes increased the chances of procuring that hole below the water-line which is thought to be almost certain to send a ship to the bottom ? These are questions which, when this is written,1 are waiting for answers. At this stage of our affairs it is hazardous to predict, as a battle may come quickly enough to prove the undoing of one who attempts to foretell its results ; yet there is much less cause for uneasiness than we are led to believe. Our vessels are not the death-traps that they are often thought to be. The results will depend much upon the class of ships engaged.

We are not quite so uninformed as might at first thought be supposed, for our theories have been based upon the experience of four wars since the introduction of iron and steel for ship-building purposes. Our own civil war with its numerous examples of the monitor in action, the battle of Lissa between the Italians and Austrians, the battles off the South American coast between Chile and Peru, and lastly the decisive action near the mouth of the Yalu River afford a sufficient basis of judgment on many points. One thing we know well, and that is the absolute uselessness of wooden hulls as opposed to iron and steel. One large battleship of the latest construction would have been fatal to the whole of both fleets at Trafalgar, and one modern commerce-destroyer could probably have swept from the sea the entire commerce of England during Nelson’s time. The experience of our war and of that between Chile and Peru has taught us how to design a turret and to protect the men behind the guns. We have learned, also, the fearlessness of trained men when cooped up in boxes of iron and steel. The battle of the Yalu has demonstrated that battleships with heavy armor are not easily sent to the bottom even when attacked by much superior force, and that cruisers and gunboats are in great danger when carried into fleet action. As might have been supposed, the splinters and fire from all woodwork above the water-line have proved trying to the crew even of a battleship.

Naval vessels may be divided into four classes: battleships, capable of making an attack and of taking heavy blows; cruisers, whose chief function is blockade duty and commerce-destroying, but which would not stand a very heavy fire ; armed merchant ships, employed as scouts and patrols : and finally, torpedo boats and destroyers, exclusively for offense, having no protection whatever against even the smaller rapid-fire guns. It is not to be doubted that all these ships would be carried fearlessly into action, if it seemed advisable to the commanderin-chief, but prudence would remand all vulnerable craft to the rear or to points within easy reach of a safe harbor. The chief reliance must necessarily be placed on ships built especially for the line of battle, and we may well consider what is likely to be their fate when opposed by vessels of their own class.

There are three types of heavy fighting vessels in our navy: the harbor defense monitor, capable of service in smooth water; the coast-line battleship, for coast defenses; and the sea-going battleship, which can handle its guns in a fairly heavy sea. None of these have a speed exceeding sixteen or seventeen knots, the principal differences among the three classes being in the height of the guns above the water-line, and the capacity to maintain their highest speed in rough water. The Iowa, as the best of its class, is our only completed example of a sea-going battleship, and she may be taken as a type. She has been described as “a vast honeycomb of steel.”Doubts have been expressed as to the stability of this honeycomb under the shock of a heavy projectile. Writers who have had no experience on the sea are likely to forget the heavy shock which the hulls of all our ships have already withstood in firing their own guns. In fact, there is not much difference between the jar to the turret and its machinery from the reaction of a twelveinch shell and that resulting from a blow.

The Iowa carries forty-six guns, two more than the rating of our old Constitution, and, like that vessel, is among the first of a new type. Four twelve-inch guns are mounted near the ends of the ship in steel turrets fifteen inches thick, and four eight-inch guns are placed on each side in smaller steel turrets six inches thick. These turrets have steel covers and are like inverted cheese-boxes, with holes for the muzzles of the guns, nearly all of which are fully twenty-five feet above the water. The other guns are of smaller calibre, of the rapid-firing class. Four Gatling guns are mounted on platforms on the single mast, called the fighting-tops. They are placed high in the air for the purpose of delivering a plunging fire upon the decks of an opponent. While the Constitution fired a broadside weighing about seven hundred pounds, the Iowa is capable of discharging forty-five hundred and sixty pounds in one broadside. If we reckon the total weight of metal which can be thrown by the Iowa in the time required by the Constitution to fire a broadside, we have not far from nine thousand pounds.

A feature of the modern gun will doubtless be its accuracy of aim. The guns of the first monitor had the ordinary sights, and the men had to look out through the port-holes of a revolving turret to find the enemy. We might say they often fired “ on the wing,” with very indefinite notions of the range and the briefest instant for training the guns. The Iowa’s turrets have small boxes projecting above the covers for lookouts. Horizontal slits are cut near the tops of these boxes, giving a view around the horizon. The guns themselves are aimed by means of cross-hairs in telescopes, and fired by electric buttons which are instantaneous in their action. Once the cross-hair is on the object, the projectile may be sent on its way at a velocity of two thousand feet a second before the roll of the ship has time to impair its accuracy. The range is found by means of instruments set up as far apart as possible, which make the ship the base line of a triangle having the target for its apex. In case of failure of the instruments the range may be found by trial of the rapid-fire guns, which deliver from six to twenty shots a minute.

While the ship is built for her guns, a great number of machines are required to bring them into action and to make them effective as offensive weapons. There are two powerful engines for propulsion, many machines for auxiliary purposes in the engine and fire rooms, and other smaller machines for steering the ship, turning the turrets, hoisting the ammunition, and ventilating and lighting the compartments. One of the main objects in the design is to provide for the protection of all these machines which constitute the vitals of a ship, and to enable her, in case her guns are crippled, to ram or to get out of the way. A very good idea of this protection would be obtained by imagining all the upper works removed down to the deck three feet above the water-line. An inverted box, about one hundred and fifty feet long and seventy-two feet broad, would be found, made of fourteen inches of steel on the sides, twelve inches on the ends, and two and three quarters on the top, constituting a huge house containing all the machinery whose derangement might prove disastrous. In the living space above this iron box are placed various rapid-fire guns with five-inch steel armor on the sides to protect the men from small-arm fire. The fourteen - inch armor on the sides extends four or five feet below the water-line for the more effective protection of the hull between wind and water. The turrets communicate with the magazines by means of heavy steel tubes extending to the armored deck. In addition to all this armor there is a steel tower or lookout, placed high above the batteries, from which the commanding officer may con the ship and direct her movements, communicating, through a tube seven inches thick, with all important points below the water-line. About eighteen hundred tons of coal are carried, to enable the ship to keep the sea for a reasonable period. The spread of water in case a shot penetrates near the waterline is prevented by placing the coal in thirty separate water-tight compartments or rooms. For the same purpose, the subdivision of all parts of the hull below the water-line is carried out with equal minuteness.

All these constructions have proceeded along the line of theory, as our naval officers have pictured in their minds the contingencies likely to arise in action ; but it is hard to believe that practical experience will justify any very vital changes. The batteries may be rearranged and increased, the guns may be reduced in size, and better protection may be given to the men ; still, the ships will be substantially the same. There is no reason to think that we are less skillful in engineering applied to warfare than in engineering in its many applications for peace. For a generation we have designed steam-boilers, bridges, ships, and buildings upon theory, and few great disasters have followed when the laws of science have been faithfully observed. Technical men are not more afraid of a boiler which carries two hundred pounds of steam than of one which carries only twenty. The same factor of safety is provided in both cases, and both boilers are reliable in service. In fact, we have found high-pressure boilers the more reliable, as greater care has been taken in their design and construction. The same thing may be said of the higher power guns, and we can fire a shot weighing half a ton with as much safety as our forefathers could fire a shot weighing twenty-four pounds. Hence it would seem unreasonable to expect such disastrous results as we are sometimes led to anticipate. The battle of the Yalu showed that an armored ship could go into action, suffer a terrific fire, and still have the ability to steam out of action and proceed to a place of safety.

It is almost certain to be the small things which give trouble under stress. Take the different important elements of the Iowa, for instance, and let us see what are likely to be the difficulties in store for our officers and men. The first thing which presents itself is the complicated system by which the captain gives his orders to the divisions under his command. The conning-tower contains speaking-tubes to the enginerooms, the magazines, the turrets, the steering-room, and the guns mounted separately. There is, besides, a central station below the water-line communicating with these compartments, and connected by a single tube within easy reach of the commanding officer. There are also telephone connections with all parts, and a system of mechanical bell-pulls to direct the motion of the engines. The cutting of one of these tubes or wires would bring another, or reserve, into use, and the cutting of them all would throw the conning-tower out of action. But even this would not necessarily impair the fighting efficiency, as the central station below the conning-tower would still be available. If worse came to worst, a system of communication could be established by stationing a line of men along the berth deck. There would also be at hand, for directing the engineers, bellpulls in the pilot-house, on the bridge, and at the steering-wheels aft. It will readily be seen that while the destruction of all means of communication would seriously hamper the ship, it would not follow that she must retreat or even go out of action. Experience with the Huascar, a monitor belonging to the Peruvian navy, has proved this. This little ship fought two battleships for several hours after her conning-tower had been practically destroyed. In the fight between the Monitor and the Merrimac, the former’s speaking-tube connecting the conning-tower with the other parts of the ship was broken early in the action, and yet it was the Merrimac which had to retreat.

The derangement of machinery presents much greater difficulty, and an accident to even a small element might cause the loss of a ship, by placing her at the mercy of a ram or a torpedo. The propelling machinery and the boilers are below the water-line. They are very substantially built, and it seems doubtful if they are more likely to give out at so critical a time as a sea-fight than in stress of heavy weather. As a matter of course, greater chances would be taken in the former case, and the engines might be forced to their utmost at times. The danger from shot is not so serious as the liability to the development of hidden defects under high tension, and the lack of reliable communication among the engineers and firemen, shut off from one another in small water-tight compartments. Almost all conceivable contingencies, however, have been provided for.

The steering machinery also is entirely below the water-line, and is of a type with which we have had much practical experience. The eight-inch turrets are turned by steam - engines so near the ship’s bottom that a shot could not possibly disturb them. The same may he said of the hydraulic machinery which turns the turrets containing the twelveinch guns. The eight-inch guns can be turned by hand as well. The only accident likely to happen is the disturbance of the gearing, due to the impact of a heavy shot. Even if the turrets could not be turned, the guns could be fought by turning the ship. The ammunition is hoisted by electricity, with a reserve of hand power. The electric current is provided by dynamos, of which there are four, forming a very large reserve. A breakage or short circuit in the wire would plunge the lower part of the ship into darkness but for the dim glow of oil lamps or candles.

This array of machinery would be disheartening if we did not know that every machine is in the hands of trained men, whose practical experience will go far toward securing safety and promptness in action, and eliminating the danger of breakdowns. Up to this time the examples which may be cited as evidence are few, but we may be sure that our men will prove equal to the requirements of the occasion. The battle of the Yalu is inconclusive, on account of the lack of intelligence with which the ships on the Chinese side were handled. Only those ships not designed for fighting in fleet were destroyed by the Japanese.

It is an axiom to say that with equally good ships on both sides the result of a fight will depend upon the steadiness, the intelligence, and the training of the men. After all, it is they who form the chief factor in these days as they did in the past, when our weapons and ships were of a more elementary type. The ability and bravery of our seamen cannot be questioned. One of the finest episodes in history is the sinking of the Cumberland at Hampton Roads. Her crew went down firing the guns until the ship was submerged, and the flag was never lowered. In calculating the chances of victory we must take into account the dispositions and character of our opponents. Any deficiency in their mechanical knowledge and skill is certain to invite defeat. Bravery goes for naught in the presence of machinery, if a people be hampered by tradition and methods belonging to the Middle Ages. Evidence for the present case may be gathered from the behavior of the descendants of the Spaniards in South America. The machinery of their ships has always suffered except in the hands of foreign engineers, principally Scotch and English, hired for the purpose.

That they have courage, when they are cornered, is undoubted. In the war between Chile and Peru, the Huascar made herself famous in two naval battles, in which was exhibited the splendid bravery of the Spaniards on both sides. She had a small turret five or six inches thick, and side armor of three or four inches. She went down to Iquique under a German captain named Grau, who found the Chilean ship Esmeralda in the harbor, an old-style wooden frigate, not at all adapted to fighting a monitor. The action began at long range, no shot taking effect, however, until the vessels were close together. Early in the fight three of the boilers of the Chilean exploded, and very nearly disabled her. A shot passed through the engine-room, exploded there, and completely destroyed the machinery, so that the ship had no motive power thereafter. Of course the men suffered meanwhile, but the ship made no pretense of surrendering. The Huascar endeavored to ram the Esmeralda, and struck her a glancing blow with no serious effect. But while the two ships were in contact, the Chilean commander, Arturo Pratt, calling to his men to follow him, leaped on board the Huascar. Only one man was able to join him before the ships separated. Captain Grau called to him to surrender, saying that he did not want to kill a gallant man. As Captain Pratt shot one of the crew, both he and his man were killed. The Huascar made another attempt to ram, and was boarded by the third officer of the Esmeralda, followed by six or seven men. They too were swept from the deck. A third attempt to ram was successful, and the Esmeralda went down, with her men cheering and her flag still flying. A few months later the Huascar was captured by two ironclads, after nearly all her officers and crew had been killed. When the Chilean officer came on board to take possession of her, he found her chief engineer opening a sea-valve in the engine-room, with the intention of sinking the ship.

The distinction between those men and ours is not one of bravery, but one of mechanical knowledge and force, and these seem likely to be the determining factors in the present war. Accidents are most common with men who have no mechanical foresight and no steadiness in the handling of machinery and guns.

This fact was very plainly exemplified after the destruction of the Alabama. A nine-inch shell from the Alabama struck the Kearsarge in the sternpost and lodged there without exploding. It should have torn the stern out of the ship, and the struggle would have ended otherwise. The failure to explode must be attributed mainly to lack of care of the fuses on the part of the Alabama’s crew. A section of the sternpost containing the shell was subsequently sawed out and sent to the Naval Academy to serve as a living example to our young officers.

There is another consideration which distinguishes modern warfare from that in the days of the sailing navy, and that is the coal supply. A ship can no longer keep the sea for an unlimited time, and we bid fair to acquire experience in the method of providing for our steamers at a distance from their coaling stations. As many indefinite notions upon this subject are held by our people, an example may be taken from the navy in time of peace. Just after the Baltimore affair at Valparaiso, the Charleston was ordered from Shanghai to Honolulu, and upon reaching the latter place found orders to proceed to Valparaiso. She took on eight hundred tons of coal, which was sufficient, under ordinary circumstances, to carry her five or six thousand miles. She left Honolulu and headed for Callao, but about three days out she struck a very heavy gale of wind dead ahead. After steaming for ten days against this wind and a tremendous sea she was obliged to put in to San Diego, California, with coal for only one day’s steaming left. The distance actually covered was a little more than two thousand miles. It may readily be seen from this that the contingency of wind and weather cannot be taken into account when leaving port, and that a fleet would find the question of coal a very serious one indeed. The difficulty of coaling at sea is so great that ships or fleets would probably be helpless, if taken more than twenty-five hundred miles from the base of supply, unless an enemy’s port could be captured or a place in quiet waters could be found where the coal might be transferred. A few commerce-destroyers have large bunker capacity, and would be effective across the Atlantic, but the experiment has never been tried.

The next important consideration is the facility for docking and repairs in case of damage to hull or machinery. A great part of this work can be done on board ship, with the class of men we now provide for our navy ; but any heavy repairs would inevitably involve the proximity of a navy yard, a repair station, and a dock. The success of our ships in stress of weather and in their general reliability is a proof that we have little to fear in comparison with other nations, and especially with nations having no mechanical ability. No device has yet been able to cope with the fouling of an iron ship’s bottom at sea. We can send divers down to scrape off the barnacles, which at once begin to grow again, and in a few months seriously reduce the speed.

While it seems probable that our battleships would be able to make a vigorous and effective attack, and to take heavy blows without fear, the really uncertain elements in modern naval warfare are the torpedo and the ram. It is scarcely to be doubted that a ship would sink if pierced below the water-line by either. Actual experience, however, has given us few data upon the use of these weapons between ships in motion. There is a record of ships at anchor destroyed by torpedoes, but the two cases are not the same. The Chilean ironclad Blanco Encalada was sunk in the harbor of Caldera by a Whitehead torpedo fired from the torpedo boat Almirante Lynch. Her water - tight doors had not been closed, and her crew is said to have been asleep when the torpedo boats came into the harbor. At any rate, she went down without having made any attempt to get out of the way. Very few guns were fired. The Albemarle was sunk at her anchorage on a dark night. The Aquidaban was destroyed by night in Santa Catharina Bay.

All these, however, are cases of ships lying at anchor without picket boats, and we have nothing to tell us what torpedo boats can accomplish against battleships in motion or at anchor surrounded by proper scouts. They may prove to be more dangerous in imagination than in reality. At best they are frail structures in which everything is sacrificed to speed. Even a voyage across the Atlantic is perilous, and they are of no use whatever unless accompanied by a coal supply. The protection against torpedo boats is provided by a number of rapid-fire guns, and when we consider that one shot would be likely to destroy the motive power of one of these little crafts we can understand what a slender chance she would have if discovered. The Iowa could fire at least one hundred and twenty shots per minute on each broadside, and could thus encircle the ship with a shower of projectiles delivered with great accuracy of aim. Is it unwarrantable to believe that our ships will scarcely find torpedo boats a grave element of danger ? They undoubtedly create a feeling of nervousness and apprehension on a battleship, only exceeded by that on the torpedo boats, whose Sole defense against large vessels is their speed. The stake in men, time, and money is far greater for the former, but the risk is almost prohibitive for the latter. In fleet action, such a small vessel would be like a small boy who has interfered in a street fight among men. A fleet of torpedo boats could, however, wait beyond the range of the guns, and come up to destroy an enemy whose gun fire had been silenced.

The place of the ram cannot be stated definitely from past experience. Its use will probably be confined to the delivery of a death-blow after an antagonist is disabled. While one ship may attempt to ram, the other may have equal facility in avoiding the blow. Besides this, the torpedo, with which every battleship is armed, acts as an efficient deterrent. Our battleships are provided with four or six torpedo tubes from which automobile torpedoes may be fired. It seems likely that these would be in place, ready for use, in case two ships were very close together. The danger from their premature explosion, if struck by a shot, would be likely to keep them below the water-line until occasion for use arose. It is reported that the Chinese actually fired their torpedoes into the water, and left them to wander aimlessly around, rather than to trust them in the tubes, where they were exposed to rapid-fire guns.

The subdivision of the ship below the water-line is made with great minuteness, and its effectiveness in preventing the entrance of a large quantity of water depends upon the prompt closing of the water-tight doors. These doors must be closed upon the slightest indication of danger, and the crew must be thoroughly trained in the care of apparatus required to make them tight. The penalty of carelessness is well understood. One needs only to read the records of the marine insurance companies to establish the fact that water-tight bulkheads have saved many ships that would otherwise have been lost. It is still within the memory of those who cross the Atlantic that the Arizona ran into an iceberg and had the greater part of her bow torn off, but that the ship made her port without serious apprehension on the part of her captain. A few years ago, the officers of the Hartford, lying in Valparaiso, saw a Chilean torpedo boat, going at full speed, accidentally ram a large ironclad. The bow was doubled up on itself and the hull badly torn, but no great amount of water entered, and the boat easily made her landing. There are many records of grounding where the bottom-plates have been pierced without seriously endangering the safety of the ship. The use of wood does not give us immunity from accident and its results, and we are prone to exaggerate the faults of metal. No wooden vessel could possibly have remained afloat after a collision like that of the Arizona, and we are but too familiar with the stories of pumps going for days in a slowly settling ship.

The Chinese war, while not to be taken as reliable evidence, affords some little information on the subject of rapidfire guns. The deck of a battleship would probably be swept by a torrent of small shot. The fire from the Gatling guns in the fighting-tops of the Iowa would quickly drive the men from the upper deck of an antagonist. If this torrent were directed at the openings around the heavy guns, it might render the inside of the turrets very uncomfortable. The turret of the Huascar was cleaned out three times by the fire from the Chilean ships, and one of her officers was struck by a shell entering a gun-port. A shot had previously penetrated the five inches of metal and disabled one of the guns. An accident to the Iowa is exceedingly unlikely, as there is hardly a gun afloat which could penetrate her steel armor under ordinary circumstances of an action at sea.

The forward and after parts of a battleship contain nothing of vital importance above the water-line, and therefore are not protected by armor. A threefoot thickness of corn pith is packed in along the sides to prevent the entrance of water in ease the metal be riddled. No great damage could be done, as the ship could use her guns even though the ends were converted into pepper-boxes.

The use of cruisers whose vitals are protected by a thick steel turtle - back deck hidden within the hull is fairly well worked out. They are provided with high speed to run away, and no commander would feel himself justified in combating battleships with cruisers except in the gravest emergency, where dash and skill might win the day. A blockade may be conducted with both cruisers and gunboats, and an enemy’s port might even be entered without the support of heavy ships, if the fortifications were not well manned. All similar vessels belonging to an enemy would be on equal terms, and we may be sure that our officers would accept the gage of battle in such cases. From what we know of Anglo-Saxon blood, it is doubtful if they could be restrained.

Our strongest tendency is to take alarm at the differences between ships of the present day and those of the past; yet by taking another view of the ease, and dwelling rather on the likenesses between the past and present, we may well feel reassured. The men who command our ships and those who man them are of the same blood as those who have gained victories on the sea for America and for England. Our sailors are bred to the sea, and may be trusted to uphold the traditions of the service. War has always been risky, and men will not be free from danger now any more than they were in the past, but that danger does not bear a greater proportion to their ability to meet it. The newspapers have a strong tendency to exaggerate the sensational side of war. We have been assured that many surprises are in store for us, but it is difficult to see how that which is anticipated and provided for can be called a surprise. It is true that a battleship is a very complicated machine, liable to accidents ; but we may feel sure that here the genius of our people has not gone far astray. The Americans are naturally mechanical, and instead of surprises we may look for many confirmations of our theories. We may lose some of our smaller ships, but there is no reason to anticipate any great disaster, unless one of our battleships should be taken by surprise or overwhelmed by a number of ships.

In conclusion, it may be said that the machine is not an untried factor in warfare. Its possibilities are really the unknown quantity to be determined in practice. Our guns will probably do just what they are expected to do, and unless a new weapon, more certain and deadly than anything we now have, be devised, a single naval battle is likely to affect only the arrangement of details in the future. The qualities of the men must, after all, remain the determining element, and we have no cause to think that they have changed.

Ira Nelson Hollis.

  1. April 30.