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the, career of nautical warfare. The subject is, however, one of momentous importance to us, and it should engage us to bring every possible consideration to bear on the means by which Great Britain may, even at the outset, be enabled to maintain that superiority in steam-warfare, which has already been obtained for her by the skill and intrepidity of the officers and seamen of her glorious sailing navy.
New discoveries in the means and implements of war have at all times been necessarily attended, both in fleets and armies, by new formations in the array of battle, and by modifications, or entire changes, in their tactical evolutions. The greatest change in these respects took place at the epoch of the first employment of gunpowder in warfare; but every improvement in arms has, since that time, constantly led to counteracting measures being taken in organization and movements both naval and military, of which the history of military science affords abundant examples. It must be observed, however, that alterations in tactics have always been made by slow degrees, and have generally followed at long intervals the improvements which rendered them necessary. At the present time it may be said that no efficient change has yet been made in military tactics to meet the introduction of the improved rifle as a general arm for the infantry of the line.
The employment of steam as a motive power in the warlike navies of all maritime nations, is a vast and sudden change in the means of engaging in action on the seas, which must produce an entire revolution in naval warfare, and must render necessary the immediate adoption of new measures in tactics, and new material resources; these should be forthwith studied, and provided, with all the mental and physical energies which the talent and wealth of this country can exert; in particular, no money should be spared, considering the magnitude of the object at stake,—no less than the preservation of our naval supremacy,—in procuring all that is necessary to meet the requirements of the service at this momentous epoch.
'The changes which political events have produced in the maritime affairs of all the nations of Europe, and the great improvements which have been made in naval constructions and armaments, and particularly the introduction of steam as a motive power since the termination of the wars arising from the great French Revolution, are matters with which it behoves the statesmen of this country to be thoroughly acquainted. One great naval power in Europe has disappeared as such, and another has sprung up in the New World. The steam fleet of France is in a state of progressive augmentation; the government of that country having acted upon the decision of its " Commission oVEnquSte," of 1849,* and has now attained a very formidable degree of strength. The division of the Russian fleet now in the Baltic, amounting to about 40 sail of the line, will speedily become a steam fleet; and the navies of the minor powers, Denmark, Sweden, and Holland, under the able administrations of those countries, are in a very efficient state. In short, the navies of Europe and of America have so increased in the number and strength of the ships, and their personnel, in all that relates to the science and practice of war, that, in a future contest, the sea will become the theatre of events, more important and decisive than have ever yet been witnessed.
* See the 'EnquSte Parlementaire, sur la Situation et l'Organization des Services de la Marine Militaire, ordonnee par la Loi du 3l Octobre, 1849.' Paris, Imprimerie Nationalc, l85l.
The efforts of our nearest continental neighbours have been particularly directed during the last nine years to the re-attainment of that rank and consideration which their nation formerly held among the naval powers of the world; and, admitting this to be a just and laudable policy for France to pursue, Great Britain should, at the same time, keep steadily in view the measures now being carried out in that country, conformably to the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry just referred to, and must take corresponding measures to increase in due proportion the power, efficiency, and numerical strength of her naval forces, in order to maintain her present position. Thus, the naval arsenals of two great nations in alliance with each other, one of them impelled by a necessity of the first and highest order — that of providing effectually for its own security, are resounding with the din of warlike preparations, while both nations might be participating in the financial advantages and social benefits of a sound, substantial, and lasting peace.
It may be proper to observe here, that the Commission of Inquiry, in its sitting of the 3rd February, l85l, decided, that the number of ships of the line which, by the Grdonnance of l846, was limited to 40, should be increased to 45, and that each ship should be provided with steam power. This was the number adopted, but it appears from the discussion which took place on the occasion, that the proposition of M. Charner, one of the members of the Commission, to increase the number to 50 ships of the line was rather postponed than rejected. It was recommended to have the greatest number possible of ships of the line finished, afloat, and ready armed whenever they might be required. The reason for adopting the smaller number was, that 45 ships would be finished in less time, and thus the funds voted would be economised, and the country be better prepared in the event of war soon breaking out. The number of ships actually finished is 47, and there is little doubt that it will soon amount to 50, as proposed by M. Charner.
In the sittings of the 12 th February and the 10th March, 1851, it was resolved that the number of steam-frigates, a grande vitesse, should be 20, of frigates moved by sail and steam, also 20; at the same sitting it was decided that the number of corvettes should be fixed at 50, and that there should be 80 avisos. It was also decided that the construction of the 20 swift steamfrigates and the 50 corvettes should be completed gradually within the next ten years; at the same time it was determined that all sailing transports should be suppressed; and that, instead of them, there should be 20 steamers to serve as transports." The line-of-battle steamers are recommended to be built on the model of the 'Napoleon,' formerly the 'Vingt-quatre-Fevrier;' the engines of this ship, though rated at 960 horse-power, can be worked up to 1500 horse-power, and the ship is capable of stowing coal for 10 days when steaming at full speed. It was subsequently resolved that the "Equipages de ligne" (ships' crews), and the "Mecaniciens," or engine-men, should continue to be kept up by means of the maritime conscription; that 14 ships of the line then afloat should undergo the alterations necessary to convert them into steam-ships; that the number should be made up to 30 from the ships then on the stocks, and that 20 of them should be completed within ten years.
* The transport, 'Calvados,' which was lately launched at L'Orient, the first of twenty vessels of the same class, is said to have accommodation for 2500 men, 150 horses, and 1200 tons of stores.
In the decision respecting the establishment of ships' crews for manning the 45 ships of the line decreed by the Ordonnance of l846, it was regulated that an adequate increase should be made in the number of companies, each of which was appointed to consist of 60 seamen of the first, second, and third classes, with 20 seamen apprentices; also that the establishment of seamen-gunners should be on so large a scale, that there might be one well-trained gunner to every gun in the ships to which they should be drafted.
The decisions of French Commissioners, on subjects referred to them, are not subject to change with a change of government, as with us; they are, on the contrary, immutable, and are perseveringly acted upon till they are effectually carried out. It is well known that the idea of constructing a great harbour at Cherbourg originated with Louis XIV., though the work was commenced only in the reign of Louis XVI.; and, in the present year we have seen the completion of that vast work, which, in the language of the President of the Commission appointed in .l849, "is to contain the fleets which are to defend the French coasts and attack the English in their own country." *
Viewing France as that which she really is, a great power, whose safety depends upon her military forces, we have no right to cavil at any measures which the government of that country may adopt for its own
* In a speech delivered at a sitting of the Commission of Inquiry before referred to, Jan. 27th, l851 (' Enqueue Parlementaire,' torn, i., p. l49), M. Daru, after observing that, in the expedition to Rome, the whole French army was embarked and conveyed in ten days from Toulon to Civita Vecchia, infers that 24 steam frigates, 24 transports, 3 corvettes, and 3 avisos, concentrated at Dunkirk, Cherbourg, or Brest, would suffice to disembark 30,000 men and 3000 horses on any part of Great Britain or Ireland.