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purpose tried to run down another of about half her size, she failed signally, and did herself more injury than she did to her adversary. After all, however, the question is probably an idle one. We can hardly fancy the circumstances in which a steamer, unless disabled, should allow herself to be run into in this manner. Putting the helm up or down, -forging ahead, or backing astern, -any manœuvre would prevent it, so it is scarcely likely to occur as between iron steam-ships in action. As against wooden ships it is useless, for it cannot now be denied that horizontal shell-firing has sealed the doom of wooden ships of war, and our second head of inquiry is thus finally disposed of.
Those who have had opportunities of following the progress made in this branch of artillery practice since the Russian War have long been absolutely convinced that it only required one naval action to settle the question for ever. In the 216th Number of this Journal (October, 1860), an article appeared describing the various means of destruction which had been invented for this purpose, and pointing out the utter impossibility of using wooden vessels for fighting in the present state of naval science. To use the emphatic expression of Sir John Hay, in speaking in his place in Parliament on this subject, the man who goes into action in a wooden vessel is a fool, and the man that sends him there a villain.'
Although all this was perfectly well known to the initiated long ago, the advantage gained through the American action is incalculable. The public now believe what before was accepted only by the men of science. Notwithstanding all that wonderful tenacity of faith in the ancient ways which is characteristic of a British Admiralty, their wooden idols must now at last be abandoned. Although it is reported that the dockyard authorities have bought and converted more timber during the last financial year than they ever did before, they too must be sacrificed. The public now know that a wooden manof-war is a mere box of lucifer-matches, and that the first shell fired into it explodes the whole. The question has passed from the region of theory into the domain of fact, and woe to those who refuse to be taught by such experience. But it is needless to reiterate what was said a year and a-half ago as clearly and as strongly as it could now be put.
We now come to the third branch of the inquiry, and we feel that we should require to know more than we yet do of the construction of the two vessels engaged, before it would be justifiable to hazard any very positive opinion on the subject. It appears,
however, tolerably certain that the Monitor's' turret was formed of eight thicknesses of one-inch iron plates. Now it happens that a target has recently been tested at Shoeburyness, composed in nearly the same manner, but rather thicker, and having the additional advantage of a two-inch plate on the outside. It was made in the very best manner, and of the very best materials. At two hundred yards, the 681b, solid shot and 100lb. Armstrong both pierced it every time; and though the shot themselves did not go actually through, they sent such a shower of splinters into the sea beyond, as would certainly have killed every man who had happened to be inside a tower protected by so frail a covering
Whence then arises this difference between our experiments and those of the Americans? Is it that their iron is superior to ours, or their workmanship better? There is not a shadow of a reason for suspecting either the one or the other. On the contrary, the iron for our targets has always been selected with the utmost care, and the workmanship the best that the skill of this country can produce. Nor does there seem to be anything in the shape of the turret to account for the difference in its resisting power.
If, therefore, neither the material, nor the workmanship, nor the form will account for the immense difference between the results of the American experience and ours, it is probable that the solution must be sought in the nature of the artillery employed.
The heaviest guns of the Merrimac' were apparently 11-inch Dahlgrens. These are practically shell-guns, like our 10-inch guns; and though solid shot may be fired out of them, this cannot be done without danger, and can only be with very reduced charges. If the Merrimac' only fired shells, or if it is true, as the Duke of Somerset stated in the House of Lords a few nights ago,
* If there is anythiug to account for the difference, and if it is possible to render such a tower invulnerable, it is most fortunate that the Government has not proceeded further with Captain Coles's cupolas. A perpendicular tower is not only more roomy and capable of far better ventilation, but it occupies far less room on the deck, and avoids the great difficulty and expense of Captain Coles's proposal, which consist in its junction with the deck and the protection of its lower edges. If, therefore, it is possible to protect this tower, even at the expense of coating it with 44 inch plates on the outside, or five or six thicknesses of inch plates internally, it will be found as great an improvement as the sloping-sided shield advocated by Captain Coles—but which was suggested to him
by Mr. Scott Russell—is over the curvilinear cupola, which is the only invention Captain Coles can really lay claim to, but which never was and never could be carried into effect. One of the many objections to Captain Coles's system is that only breechloading guns can be used in his cupolas, and the largest class of guns cannot be made breech-loaders ; so that a cupola-ship may any day find herself overmatched by a vessel of a much smaller and less expensive class. Vol, 111.--No. 222.
that the initial velocity of her projectiles was only 700 feet in a second, the whole mystery is cleared up. We know perfectly well, and knew long ago, that an 11-inch shell fired with so low an initial velocity would barely make an indentation on such a target, and that even an 180-1b, solid shot fired with reduced charges would hardly do more damage; but we also know that at 200 yards a 68-pounder solid shot fired with an initial velocity of 1600 feet a second would pierce it, and at shorter ranges go clean through it.*
We know so little of the composition of the Merrimac's' sides, that it is perhaps even more difficult to speak with certainty regarding her. But knowing what her tonnage and displacement were, and admitting that she is now sunk three or four feet below her proper loadwater-line, we can calculate approximately what weight of armour she could carry; and if we spread this over her, we arrive at the conclusion that her armour was not heavier than what we are in the habit of experimenting upon. Nor will the sloping position in which it was placed suffice to solve the difficulty. On this point our experiments have been too numerous and too conclusive to admit of any doubt.
It was stated the other day by Sir John Hay, the Chairman of the IronPlate Committee, at the meeting of the Institute of Naval Architects, that the result was pretty much the same whether a given weight of metal was placed perpendicularly to the line of impact, or whether it was spread out into a thinner plate to cover the same vertical height as would be required for that purpose, if placed sloping at any given angle. 'In fact, there seems no possible solution of the mystery from the data at our command, except the one suggested in the previous paragraphs, that the · Monitor' fired nothing but shells, or fired shot at such low velocities as to be comparatively innocuous. If she fired solid shot at such velocities as are usual in our service, either the Merrimac's' sides must have been stronger than anything yet constructed on this side of the Atlantic, or all our science is naught, and we have learned nothing from the numerous costly experiments we have hitherto made.
The fight in Hampton Roads proves nothing directly with
* A curious illustration of the loss of power from reduced velocity is seen from an experiment frequently tried at Shoeburyness. A 100 lb. shot is fired from an Armstrong gun at a target with the usual charge of powder, say 14 lbs.
The next round a 200 lb. shot is substituted, but with 10 lbs. of powder. Although the velocity is not, of course. reduced nearly a half by this process, it is found that the effect of the larger shot fired with the reduced charge is contemptible iu comparison to that of the smaller shot with the larger charge, and that the former is, in fact, of no use as against a well-made iron target.
reference to the fourth branch of our inquiry, inasmuch as we do not know of any single shot from the shore-batteries having struck the ‘Merrimac;' and if any shot from that vessel struck the forts, we are not told what effect it produced. As a contest, therefore, between guns on shore and guns afloat, the action might as well not have been fought. It seems, however, to be inferred that because these iron-plated vessels cannot be injured by shot from other vessels, therefore they cannot be injured by shot from forts.
Before jumping so rapidly to this conclusion, it would be well to bear in mind, that if the American fight proves anything, it proves too much. If forts cannot stop iron-plated ships, no more can other vessels of like nature. If, for instance, we had an iron-plated · Merrimac' of 3000 or 4000 tons, armed with the heaviest ordnance, and lying at Spithead, and a little 2-gun Moniteur' were any morning to pay us a visit from Cherbourg, what is there to prevent her steering straight into Portsmouth Harbour and burning and destroying everything she finds there? It is certainly not the iron-plated frigate that can stop her; and if we are to accept the experience of the American action as final, it would be as strictly logical to argue, that if we had fifty of such iron-plated ships in the Channel, we could not prevent a single turreted gunboat from entering either Portsmouth or Plymouth Harbour, or from running into the Thames or Mersey, and burning and destroying everything within reach of her shells. If this really were so, England's doom is sealed; and we had very much better, like Captain Crocker's 'coon, “come down' at once. The truth, however, seems to be, that the fight between the two iron-plated vessels in Hampton Roads really proves nothing-taking the facts as they were understood to be when the matter was discussed in Parliament-except that the Americans have discovered the art of fighting blood less battles. First at Fort Sumter, then at Newport News, the firing is continued hour after hour with a fury almost unknown on this side of the Atlantic-an immense quantity of ammunition is expended; the noise and confusion are such that heaven and earth seem coming together from the exertions of these Titans; and when the smoke clears away we are delighted to find the result is merely what we used to witness with such pleasure at the Princess's Theatre, when under the management of Charles Kean. In the first instance nobody was hurt; in the second, the captain caught a cold in his eye from the wind of a passing ball; and the crew were half-suffocated, as the actors are, or ought to be, from the smoke they themselves had been making! We do not say that this is a perfectly accurate representation of the state of the case: 2 p 2
more recently we have read in the newspapers an account of the death of Commodore Buchanan, the commander of the • Merrimac,' after undergoing amputation of the leg.
What further reports of injury to the crew or to the ship may be in store for us, we cannot yet tell ; but it seems clear that, from whatever cause, the “Merrimac' has been in no hurry to resume her operations.
But the action, as we have sketched it above, is the action which in the British Senate it is assumed will revolutionise the art of war and change the destiny of nations. Both on the 31st March and on the 4th April member after member rose and spoke, and, with no more knowledge of the subject than could be crammed into him by a pertinacious projector like Captain Cowper Coles, denounced all forts as useless. With a unanimity seldom witnessed, the House shouted for gunboats and cupolas; and so great was the excitement, that Parliament was quite prepared to assume the responsibility of superseding the functions of the executive, and actually did force the Ministers, against their own earnest protest, to suspend the execution of the permanent works, regardless of the money they were wasting, and, what is worse, of the precious time that is thus sacrificed. When the spasmodic energy has passed away, and Members have time to reflect on what they have done, all this will no doubt be repaired as far as may be ; for it seems impossible to doubt that if we are to maintain our supe riority in the Channel, it must be by providing securely fortified harbours of refuge for our fleet, and this can only be done either by building permanent fortifications for their defence, or by maintaining such a fleet of iron-cased vessels for purely defensive purposes, as would, when added to the expense of the sea-going Heet, ruin the richest nation in the world in a very few years.
Turning to our own experiments, all the conditions of which are known to us, while we really hardly know one of the conditions of the American experiment with sufficient exactness to draw a trustworthy conclusion from it, we find that almost up to the present moment the elements of defence and of attack were as nearly balanced as possible. For instance, the · Warrior' target, which is the best and strongest that has yet been devised, though it was not pierced at 200 yards by the 68-pounder or 100-pounder Armstrong used against it, was very seriously injured ; and if the artillery had been a little more powerful, or had been placed nearer, it cannot be doubted that the attack would have carried the day against this as it had against every other target that had yet been tried. But, assuming them as hitherto equal, the conditions are already changed. There is now at Shoeburyness a 300-pounder Armstrong gun, which has not yet been rifled, but which is used as a smooth-bore, firing