Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 15: No 1) >> The Pen as Sword: Simms and the Beginning of the War — Rediscovered Writings from 1861 >> Page 25

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Page 25

Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription held their ground; and, in fact, the guns for Fort Sumter would be, in some
degree, its protection. The sooner the planters remove from all these exposed
situations, carrying their valuables and negros into the interior, the better for
the country. We may expose valuable guns, and more valuable lives, on
these situations, at the mercy of such an overwhelming force, as it is scarcely
possibly to encounter. In choosing sea points for our batteries, we give the
enemy an opportunity of using the only agency in which he possesses the
most unquestionable superiority. Better, a thousand times, that we, ourselves,
burn and devastate the coast, and prepare for the grand issues of freedom, at
the point of the bayonet, upon the main!. There,. with our familiar thickets
and forests, a good rifle or deer gun will be as effective as a Minnie, or
Armstrong, or Colt, or Dahlgren.
We republished, along with sundry of our contemporaries, but recently,
an interesting historical summary of great battles, taking place between
shipping and land batteries, in which the latter were invariably successful.
We had, at the time, thought and nothing but the press of daily labor, and
want of time, prevented us of putting in our caveat against the too facile
reception of this history. Every syllable of it was true, as so much fact, but
the philosophy was lacking.
1. Every example was taken from a period when the ancient martinets
of Europe held that they must have no armed posts in their rear!
2. And every example was taken from a period or periods, anterior to
the employment of steam for naval purposes.
The old policy of war, touching posts in the rear, was completely broken
down by the wars of Napoleon, who isolated them by turning; achieved the
victory, in the advance, and returned, simply to receive the keys of the
isolated fortress.
The old policy of naval warfare, acting on the same absurd principle,
required the assailants to sit down before each post, and batter, and be
battered, in turn, until one party gave in! Such was the .case with those
drowsy old Commodores and Commanders, Sir Peter Parker and Sir Henry
Clinton, in the affair of Fort Moultrie. They sat down, with the sailing
marine of that day, before the fort, instead of passing it, with all possible
rapidity, and without firing a gun; and were beaten!
But, the fight lasted eleven hours!
The Yankee steamers passed the batteries at Hilton Head and Bay Point in
eleven minutes!
We repeat,--steam has revolutionized the whole history of naval warfare!
And now, how to meet this enemy in its new force, and with adaptations to
the clear necessity? It is evident that, in no other way, can our batteries be
successful against steam shipping, than by such temporary chocking up of
the channel as will give the batteries time to get the proper range of the
assailants, and try the strength of their sides as against earth works. The earth