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The Destruction Of The Norfolk Navy Yard

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The recent report of the Secretary of the Tyeasury furnishes the following account of the destruction il Norfolk. It h;trdly excuses the immense loss in ships and tl ft vu] stores, and ia official evidence of imbecility, to sny the lease. The Navy Yard, at Norfolk, protectect by tin fortress or garrisoa, has always been a favored depot with the government. It was filled with arms imd munitions, and severa] ships were in the harbor, dismantled and in ordinary, and in no condition to bo moved, had" thère been men to iriove thetn, - Thero were, however, no soamen thert or on home stations to man these vessels, ór even one of them of the largor 6188, and any to wi'.hdraw them oreithër of thern without a crew, vvould, in the Uien sensilive and aisturbed condition of the public mind, have be'rayed alarm and distrust, and been likely to cause difficulty. AppréhensTve, however, that nction might be hecessary, the commandant of fhy yard was, early in April, advised of thife 'eeliug, and cautioned, to extreme vigilance and circumspection. These, admonitions were, a few days later, repcated to Commodore McCauley. T!ns commandant, whose patriot is. Tl and fideüty were not doubted, was surround ed bv oflieers in wtoom he placed c nfi dence ; but most of thein, as events soon preved, ere fuithlesa to the tíag and tlie country. On the lOth of April Commodore tfcCatiley was ordeved _to put the shjpjing and public properiy in condition o be -fDfyftd and placed beyond daner, shoJ it becoine necessary ; but n duing th s he was warned to take no teps that could give needless alarm, 'ho steam frigate Merrimack could, it vas belicved, were her machinery in Ofer, be made avaüable in this emergenv, not only to extricate herself, but the ther shippini; in the hurbor. Not inowing, however, who could be eonded in to take .charge of her, a commander and two engineers were deailed to proceed to Norfolk tor that )Urpose. Two days after, on the 12th )f April, liie Department directed that ,he Merriinack should be prepared to Droceed to Philadelphia with the utnost dispatch. It was sta'.ed ihat to epair the engirió and punt in woiktng ondition would require four weeks, iyiscrediting this report,the engineo -inhief was ordered to proceed forthwith n person, and attend to tho necessary )repurutions. On thn 16th of April Iho commander was directed to lose no timo in pía cing annaineut on board the Merramack ; to get tho Plymouth and Do!)hin beyend danger; to have he Gernantown in tl eondition to be towed uit, and to put tho more valuahle pubic property, ord nanee, stores, &c, on fhipboard, eo that they could at any moment be moved beyond danger. Sueh was the energy and dispatch of the engineer-in chief, that on the 16:h the depariment was advised by tho commandant of the navy yard that on the 17th the Merrimack would be ■eady lor tempomry service; butwhen, on the afternoon of that day t!ae engineer-ia-chitf reporter! her ready for steam, Commodoi'e MeCauley ref'used to have her fired up. Fires were, however, built early next morning and at nine o'elock the enginea were woking, engineers, firemen. fcc, on board, but ;he commandant still refused to pennit ier to be moved, and in tho aftornoon jave direetior.s to draw the fires. The causo oí this refusal to movetha Merrimack has no explanation otber thau that of misjilaced confidenco iu his junior officers, who opposed it. As 6oon as this fatal error was reported to the dapartment, orders were instantly issued to Commodore Paulding lo proceed forthwith to Norfolrk with such officers and marines as could be obtained, ai.d take command of all the vessels afloat on that station ; to repel forcee bv forcé, and prevent the ships and public property at all aids, lrom passing mto the hands ot thu insurreelionists. But when that pfficer reauhed Norfolk, on the oveiiiog of Saturday, the '20th, ho icund that the powder iiiagu.ina had already been seized. aüd that ao artned f'iroe had oommenoed thrpwing up bat tori eg in the vicinity. Thu uomtnaodaot of the yard, alter refésin'g to permit tho vessela to bu nioved o Thursday, and omittipg it on Fridiiy, oidurcd thein to be scut tlod on Saturday evening, and tliey were sinking wheñ Commodore Paqldiug with the force under bis c.jiiitnand nrrived ..t Norfolk. This offieer. knowiög, that to sink the ships would bc only a tempirary dcpriva ir.n to the nsurgents, who would, when in iull possestiion of tho ])1icü, again havo thern aflcat, oidered tho torch to be applied to tho sinking eHlps. Pursuant to instruction?, he also Uestroyed, so far as he was able with bia limited force, the public propcrty in Ü;o yard bcfore abandoning the plnce, Tho Cumborland was towed down the river and passed, after some Iittle dtlay. over the cbstructicns tbat had been sunk in the ehannol to prevent her reinoval. This unfortunate calamity at Norfolk not only deprived tho govcrnment of Boverijl vesscls, but of a large amoiint of ordnance and btoros whiuh had there accumulated In prcvonting tho shipping and propeity from passing into the hands of the Lnsurgents who had gattiéred in consuléruiblé forcje in that vicinty uüder Genera] Ta'üaierro. Commodore Pulllding, the offi(iei-a and o!liërs under t'nem, perforraed their duty, and carried ou', s f'ar as was in their power, tho wifhe.s f tha governrnent, and the instructions of tho departineut.


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