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Farragut & Our Naval Commanders

By J. T. Headley
Comprising the early life and public services of the prominent naval commanders who, with Grant and Sherman and their generals, brought to a triumphant close the great rebellion of 1861-1865. (First edition 1867)

(Return to table of contents of this book)





It is not often that, after a series of great naval victories by others, a man who took little part in them can point back to years of peace, and say, "Then I was laying the foundation of them all;" but this Dahlgren can with perfect truth assert. In almost every action that has been fought, he can see the triumph of his inventive genius, and, in the trial of all kinds of ordnance in actual combat, the complete success of his own. A ship’s armament cannot be given, without mentioning the name of Dahlgren, and it occurs in the report of almost every combat that has occurred, till he seems to be omnipresent in the navy.

It is a little singular, that our navy should be so much indebted to Sweden for the great changes that have come over it. Ericcson, a Swede, gave us the monitors, and the son of a Swede has entirely revolutionized the armament of our vessels of war, for the father of Dahlgren was a native of Sweden, and educated at Uppsala. A ripe scholar, he emigrated while still a young man to this country, and engaged in mercantile pursuits in Philadelphia. He married into one of the old wealthy families of that city—distinguished in our War for Independence for their patriotism. Rowan, Dahlgren’s grandfather, fought bravely at Princeton and Germantown. John, the eldest son, was born in November, 1809, in Philadelphia, on the spot where now stands the City Exchange.

The father died in 1824, leaving only enough property to support the widow, and John early sought to obtain a midshipman’s berth in the navy. His application was at first refused, and he came very near giving up all hopes of securing the appointment. But fortunately for the country, he at last succeeded, and received his warrant, Feb. 1st, 1826. His first cruise was in the Macedonian, the British ship captured by us in the war of 1812. Her commander was Commodore Biddle, who in the same war captured the sloop-of-war Penguin. Dahlgren served six years, and then passed his examination, and received the warrant of passed Midshipman. He was remarkable for his proficiency in mathematics, and hence was detached from the regular service, and put on the coast survey, under Mr. Hassler, who at the time had no equal as a mathematician in the country. He was selected to serve in the triangulation of the survey, and assist in the astronomical observations, as well as the measurement of the base on Long Island-the first base line ever measured scientifically in this country-that of Mason and Dixon being merely a chain and compass measurement.

So high was Hassler’s opinion of his mathematical skill, that he chose him to make the counter calculations of the base, to compare with and verify his own. He was engaged in these labors from 1834 to 1836, when he was selected to assist in making observations of the solar eclipses of that year. In the autumn, he was offered the appointment of sailing-master in the Macedonian, which had been selected as the flagship in the Southern Exploring Expedition. He declined it because he did not think it would ever sail until reorganized. His views proved to be correct, for it was deferred, remodeled, and eventually sailed under Wilkes.

He was now detailed from the second triangulation, to assist in the first trials of the great theodolite of Houghton which had just been completed for Hassler. On this occasion heliotropes were first used in this country in the survey, instead of tin cones, and their glittering points could be seen by the naked eye from stations at the astonishing distance of thirty or forty miles.

In the winter of 1837, he was engaged in bringing up the work of the summer. This being done, Hassler made him second assistant in the survey, and gave him charge of a party of triangulation. No higher compliment could be paid his mathematical ability than this, for no other naval officer has ever held this position.

In the spring he was promoted to lieutenant, and received sailing orders. But his naturally strong eyes began now to show the evils of overwork, and he had to give up everything in order to save them. It was hard-just as he was about to receive the reward of his incredible labor, to see it slip from his hands, and be compelled to sit down in idleness. The weary summer passed away, but his disease seemed beyond the reach of medical skill. As a last resort he went to Paris to consult Sichel, the celebrated oculist. Here, to his great joy, his eyes began to improve. About this time Paixhan was trying to draw the attention of the French Government to his system of firing shells, and Dahlgren, finding that he could work again, translated his pamphlet, and had it printed at his own expense, to distribute in our navy. He also sent a copy to the board of commissioners; but the red-tape system still had sway, and we did nothing but follow French and English precedent.

In 1839, Dahlgren married, and retired for a time into the country to establish his health. For two years this man of untiring industry and keenly active mind never read a word, but labored diligently on a farm to regain his health. This course saved his eyes, and he was at length able to return to the service, when he was detailed to the receiving-ship at Philadelphia.

In 1843, Dahlgren, leaving his family of three children, one of whom was Ulric, went to sea in the frigate Cumberland under Commodore, now Admiral, Joseph Smith, and cruised in the Mediterranean. Foote was first lieutenant, and a friendship on this cruise sprung up between the two officers, which lasted for twenty years, unmarred by a single misunderstanding.

Returning at the commencement of the war with Mexico, he was assigned to ordnance duty, though he applied for active service. In 1847 he was placed over the Rocket Department just then being introduced. Everything was in confusion, yet he was able by his great energy to manufacture and send off, in a short time, a lot of rockets to the Mexican coast.

Seeing the want of system in the ordnance work, Dahlgren proposed to collect the scattered parts into a department. The bureau approved of his views and directed him to take charge of the matter. He could not wait to put up large buildings, and so he had the ship timber cleared out of one end of a timber shed, and there set up the first ordnance workshop of the country. For seven years he occupied these limited quarters, and there devised the present armament of the navy. From such small beginnings arose the present great establishment. There too commenced the most important revolution in the arming of ships that ever occurred. Dahlgren could with difficulty obtain a room to write in; but, as he said, "the field was ample and al. most untouched, and my will was good."

A board of officers in 1845 had recommended the introduction of guns of a uniform size in the navy 32-pounders, in imitation of the English system-and Dahlgren was now to fix sights on these and ascertain their range. But there being no level ground near, sufficiently extensive for his purpose, he proposed to substitute for it the smooth surface of the river. But such an experiment for accurate results had never been tried, and he had to devise some means to determine with precision the jet of water thrown up by the shot when it struck the surface. The ingenious method by which he overcame all difficulties is too scientific for popular apprehension-it is sufficient to say that his success was perfect-for nothing seemed too difficult for his inventive mind. With no aid but a mechanic, he worked out his problem, a full account of which may be found in his report to the Bureau. He soon discovered that this unit system of 32-pounders robbed us of some of our best guns, and was a foolish imitation of a false system, and hence began to plan his great revolution in naval armament.

But another subject of almost equal importance began at the same time to occupy his teeming brain. The navy had no boat guns-some old carronade or army piece serving as such in case of necessity-and he determined to create a "naval light artillery." Carrying out his project, he submitted to the Bureau a system of howitzer boat armament, and asked leave to prosecute the work. He knew the difficulties that he would have to encounter in introducing changes in the navy; but he resolved to make the attempt. He had, up to this time, never seen a gun cast, or finished, or drafted, or had computed one himself. Although he had only the most primitive means at hand, yet the first gun was made—and there being no boring lathe in the yard, he had it finished on an ordinary lathe. It required a peculiar carriage, and this he also devised.

Having at length completed his experimental piece, he invited Warrington, the chief of the Bureau, to come down and see it. The old hero had been delighted at his success in sighting the 32-pounders, and his ingenious method of getting their ranges, and was, therefore, in a mood to look favorably on any scheme which Dahlgren might propose.

The practice of the piece equalled his most sanguine expectations, and it was afterwards constantly exhibited to officers and tried in every possible way. Vindicating its claims under every ordeal, it had to be pronounced a complete success, and from that time dates the boat howitzer system. Though he met with after opposition, he triumphed over it all, and in 1850, the Navy Department recognized the system and ordered a full compliance with it, and it remains at this day unaltered from its first design.

A full and interesting account of the whole matter, together with a description of the piece, its mode of firing, plates, &c., will be found in a book published by him, entitled "Boat Armament of the United States Navy." It is full of interest, even to the non-professional reader.

Dahlgren had now made one great stride forward; he had, besides, got the entering wedge into the old, clumsy, stereotyped system, and he meant to drive it home. Stepping out in the bold originality of true genius, he planned no less than the overthrow of the whole system of naval armament. Penetrating with his acute mind the weakness of that of England and France, which we had tamely copied, he determined to show to the world one of his own, and invoke the test of actual experiment to prove its value.

No one but a person similarly situated, can appreciate how Herculean was the task which Dahlgren had assigned himself; for he needed the lever of Archimedes to lift the world of prejudice opposed to him. Like Galileo, who, after long watching the heavens through his diminutive telescope, at last exclaimed "il muove," "it moves;" so Dahlgren, after his long reflection and observation said, it moves-the world moves, and by its motion overthrows systems hoary with age, and strengthened by the verdict of generations.

Archimedes said he would lift the world, if he had anything to stand on—so with Dahlgren; he wanted something to stand on in his gigantic effort, and that was influence. This he knew he could not secure from the Navy; for those who represented it had recently decided on the 32-pounder system. He must, therefore, fall back on actual facts to get it, and he set to work to amass such a body of these, as even prejudice could not override. This he did, unobserved by any one, as he watched each day’s practice. An accident, in the mean time, unexpectedly came to his aid. He had stated to the chief that the powerful guns of the 32-pounder system lacked accuracy, and the accurate ones lacked power.

On the 13th of November, 1849, a new heavy 32-pounder burst, on being fired, killing the gunner, while a fragment of it weighing two thousand pounds tore up the earth within a foot of Dahlgren. Dahlgren had previously asked leave to submit a draft of a gun of his own, and this accident gave force to his request, and he drafted the 9-inch shell gun. This was in 1850—the same year in which he published his first work on ordnance, being the report on "practice with 32-pounders," —and before it closed he had the satisfaction of seeing his first 9-inch gun laid on the wharf of the Navy Yard. During the session of Congress, being applied to by the chairman of the naval committee for some information respecting war steamers, he sketched a large propeller, to be armed with the heavy cannon on hand, "going’" he said, "as far as he considered safe in entrenching on old ideas."

His 9-inch gun proving to be a success in every way, he asked for the casting of an 11-inch gun. The chief, Warrington, granted his request, saying that he "never gave him confidence by halves," This liberality of view does him great credit, for he had to stand almost alone by Dahlgren, who was looked upon by many as a dangerous innovator-his pieces being uncouth in form compared to ordinary cannon, while to talk of an entire battery of shell-guns, was downright heresy. He, however, finished his 11-inch gun, and his firm friend Warrington lived just long enough to know of its completion, when he suddenly died. His death was a great misfortune to Dahlgren, arid delayed the fulfillment of his plans for several years.

This year, being one of a board of commissioners appointed by the Secretary of War to investigate and report on coast defenses, he, in his paper, introduced his plan of a screw frigate with 9-inch guns on the gun deck and a pivot 10- or 11-inch on the spar deck—all shell guns—but to be capable of firing shot if necessary. This was printed by order of Congress.

Thus he was gradually preparing the way for more decided action. In 1852, at the request of the chairman of the Naval Committee, Mr. Stanton, he gave his views in full to Congress. The latter made an able speech, in which he fortified his views with lengthy quotations from Dahlgren’s paper, and moved an appropriation to carry out his plan. But meeting the opposition of the Navy Department and some of the bureaus, his resolution failed, and Dahlgren had still to wait and hope on. This year he published his work on boat armament.

In 1853, while maturing his plans and collecting facts, he published his third work on ordnance, "Percussion Primers and Locks."

The necessity of steam instead of sailing frigates becoming more palpable every day, an appropriation for building them was obtained. They were to be 3,000 tons burthen, the largest ever built; but it was found that the regulation cannon, thirty-two pounders, would not answer for them, and here, as if to meet this very exigency, came in Dahlgren’s armament. Although a facetious old gentleman called the queer-looking cannon tadpoles, Dahlgren told him he would find they would be full grown frogs in time. He proposed to place nine-inch guns on the main deck, and to put eleven-inch ones above them. This last proposition was pushing matters too far, and the bold innovation had to bide its time. He was told, however, that if he would draft a ten-inch gun it should be carried as a chase gun, one at each end. Dahlgren remonstrated against interfering -with his plan in this way, but it was of no use. The result was that the Merrimac had his main-deck battery, and the Niagara his spar-deck battery, and thus made his plan, as Dahlgren said,’" like a circus rider that rides around the ring with a foot on: each horse."

The next year he was hard at work getting the guns for the six new frigates that were to be built, besides attending to other ordnance duty. In the midst of his labors he was stricken to the earth by the; death of his wife, leaving him with five orphan children.

In the fall, he was promoted to Commander. In the beginning of56, Commodore Morris, chief of the bureau of ordnance, died, and the President wished to give Dahlgren the post; but, as the law required that officer to be at least a captain, he proposed to defer the appointment till it could be changed. Dahlgren, however, objected to this, and it was not done.

This year he published his second edition of Boat Armament, making his fourth work on ordnance; and before it closed he gave to the world his chief work, "Shells and Shell Guns." This is a very full and exhaustive work, and though containing many new ideas which at the time seemed chimerical, time and experience have proved their soundness and value.

Dahlgren, seeing how impossible it was to get his system fairly tried at sea by others, in 1857 applied for a command afloat, that he might test it himself. After much opposition he obtained command of the Plymouth, a sloop-of-war, with full permission to alter and arrange her at his pleasure. Although his eleven-inch guns were too large for a frigate of 3,000 tons, he boldly mounted one on his sloop-of-war, and put to sea. Making a gunnery-ship of her as he sailed, he cruised along the European coast, touching at various ports and visiting the principal foundries, and navy yards, and ships-of-war of the old world.

On his return he reported that the monster gun was perfectly manageable at sea. Thus by actual experiment he had overthrown the last objection, and so finally disappeared the last vestige of opposition to his system, and it soon after was adopted in the arming of our national vessels. Long years of thought, labor, experiment, and of "hope deferred that maketh the heart sick" had been passed, but victory came at last—not partial and qualified, but complete and triumphant.

In 1858, when news came of the liberties that British cruisers were taking with our merchantmen, Dahlgren was sent in the Plymouth to look after the matter. Fortunately, no collision occurred—the trouble was amicably settled—and he sailed for Port-au-Prince to settle a difficulty about the Guano Island of Nevassa. From thence he went to Vera Cruz to convey our Minister to Mexico, and while there took upon himself the responsibility of settling difficulties at Tampico, growing out of outrages committed on American citizens, and for his services received the thanks of the merchants, whose property he had saved.

Returning to Washington, he had the satisfaction, during the year, of seeing his 11-inch guns ordered to most of the new screw sloops-of-war of the Brooklyn class that were then building.

The next year, 1859, he proposed the building of a large and suitable foundry—the interior of which he designed himself, —and the work was begun.

During the year, the Armstrong gun of England was much talked about, and rifled cannon, for a while, threatened to throw Dahlgren’s improvements into the background. He at once took up the subject and proposed two rifled cannon—one iron and the other bronze—the latter of which, designed for boat armament, was adopted, and still holds its place.

In 1860, still devoting himself to the question of rifled cannon, he, after careful study, adhered in the main to his old system. The subject, however, of monster rifled guns still occupied him, when his investigations were cut short by the breaking out of the rebellion. One of his last acts was to urge on the Department the necessity of providing some iron-clads for the navy, and referred to a proposition which he had made eight years before. By accident this memorial found its way to Congress, instead of his report on rifled cannon which had been called for, and awakened a great deal of attention; but nothing was or could be effected towards their construction till imminent danger demanded that something should be done, and that speedily. It seems strange that the views of a man who, for so many years, had shown that he knew more than the Department and all the naval Bureaus put together, should have been thus ignored; but it is only one of the countless blunders of the same kind which have been committed.

At the beginning of the war, the navy yards of the country were generally under the command of officers whose homes were near them—hence most of the stations South were controlled by those who sympathized with the secessionists. This was also the case at Washington, which Dahlgren observed with considerable anxiety. Rumors were abroad that the navy yard was to be seized, and ill-looking fellows whom nobody knew began to cluster about the corners and places of resort in the city. Dahlgren saw that it behooved him to look to his charge, and so selecting the most defensible building, he secretly removed into it all the breech-loading rifles and light artillery, and barricaded all the doors except two, which he commanded by his howitzers. No one was allowed to enter it but a small body of seamen employed in the ordnance, and who he knew would obey his orders whatever they might be. The powder he had carried into the cock-loft of the large ordnance shop, which was in range of his guns in the shell-house, and could be fired in a moment, if necessary. He then sent all his spare money to Philadelphia for the use of his family, and calmly awaited the forthcoming events.

Mobs, incendiary fires, and rumors of sacking Washington, kept the inhabitants in a state of feverish excitement during the winter. April came with its stirring events, and at last the storm broke, and the sound of cannon around Fort Sumter fell on the country like a thunder-clap at noon-day. The Government awoke from its dream of security; volunteers were called for and the land shook to the tread of armed hosts. In the mean time, our troops were driven back from Baltimore, the capital became isolated, and a cloud, black as night, hung over the country. At last the arsenal of Harper’s Ferry was seized, and now the Navy Yard at Washington might be next attacked.

One afternoon Dahlgren was sitting in his office, occupied in making dispositions of arms and ammunition, when a confidential messenger from the Navy Department entered with a message that it distrusted the state of affairs in the yard, and wished him to take immediate command. He sent back word that the Department might fully rely on him, and at once sallied out to take such measures as might be necessary. While thus employed, a messenger approached and said that the commandant wished to see him. On going to his office, this officer said he was about to resign, and wished to turn over the command to him. Very few words passed, and Dahlgren resumed his preparations for defence, for the yard was so exposed on almost every side to attack, that four or five hundred resolute men might have easily seized it. There were only about ninety seamen and marines altogether, to defend it, with such little aid as might be obtained from two war steamers in the river, whose crews did not probably exceed one hundred and fifty men. With the fall of the Navy Yard, an easy road was open to the city, and yet it furnished no support to the former. The capital was never in so much danger afterwards, as at this critical period, when Dahlgren took command. He, however, determined with his handful of seamen to defend it to the last, and if it fell, to fall himself amid its ruins. He placed howitzers at commanding points, while he brought up the mail steamers to assist him in keeping open the Potomac, now the only channel of communication between the capital and the North. He hurried forward matters with such energy, that by midnight of the day he took command, he had manned and equipped one of these steamers, and placing her in charge of an old boatswain, whose locks had grown white in the service of his country, sent her down the Potomac to capture suspicious looking crafts, and to furnish pilots to any vessels loaded with Northern troops who might be coming up to the relief of the capital.

The rest of the week was one of constant toil and excitement to Dahlgren, for everything was quivering in the balance; but at last the troops arrived, and shortly after the road was open through Baltimore.

During this brief period, Dahlgren was constantly on the move, eating and sleeping anywhere, except in his quarters, and though his work was unheralded by the smoke of battle and unaccompanied by the shouts of victory, it was nevertheless the most important one he ever performed.

In the movement on Alexandria on the 24th of May, he cooperated with some steamers, and personally superintended the operations. When at daybreak the Zouaves jumped ashore, and the possession of the place was assured, Dahlgren lay down on a sofa in his steamer to snatch a few moments’ repose, but had hardly closed his eyes when the quartermaster awoke him with the startling news that Ellsworth was killed. Springing ashore, he met a detail of Zouaves bearing the body to the wharf. Directing them to his own steamer, he returned to the Navy Yard.

In the afternoon, the President drove down to the Yard, and after speaking with a great deal of feeling for Ellsworth, and showing how shocked he was at his sudden and violent death, he asked Dahlgren if it would be proper to have the funeral services at the White House. The latter replied it would be proper to consult his own feelings entirely. He did so, and had the services in the Presidential mansion.

In the occupation of Alexandria, a troop of Virginia cavalry were taken prisoners, and lodged in the Navy Yard. These Dahlgren treated with the utmost kindness, until their release at his own earnest request in June.

On that memorable Sunday of the battle of Bull Run, the Navy Yard being almost deserted—as the Seventy-first Regiment quartered there had gone to the front—the President drove down towards evening for a ride, and in a conversation with Dahlgren, said the battle had begun; that he had telegrams from the field, and all was going on well. But before he had been gone half an hour, Dahlgren also had a telegram from General Mansfield, asking him to send a vessel with dispatch to Alexandria, to cover the approaches. The former knew at once that all was not going on well; for this dispatch showed plainly that the army was falling back. Hurrying down the Perry, the only vessel on hand, he had not long to wait before the full extent of the calamity became known.

"Black Monday,” with Washington crowded with refugees, followed. Dahlgren was now called on to help man the lines in front, and he sent down three 8-inch ship-cannon and five howitzers, under a body of trained seamen and some marines, which formed a naval battery that proved to be of great service. His son Ulric, only nineteen years of age, here began that brilliant career which had so tragic an end, being volunteer aid to Captain Foxhall Parker, who commanded the battery.

In August, Congress, by a special act, enabled him, though only a commander, to hold command of the Navy Yard. During the year and some months that he held this appointment, he was not called upon to take any very active part in naval operations, except as connected with the quiet duties of the yard. His position, however, threw him into constant contact with the principal actors in the great drama going on, and his reminiscences of events and conversations would make an interesting book in itself.

The transforming of merchant vessels into war ships to help keep open the Potomac, occupied much of his attention, and made a busy scene of the Navy Yard.

Foote, out west, was hard at work, but in great want of seamen, and Dahlgren sent to him during the winter the naval force which had been on the lines and in Fort Ellsworth. The former had previously written to his old friend: "I expect of course to be shot by a Kentucky rifleman; but I mean to die game, as there must be a providence in all these things."

The autumn and winter passed with its usual excitements, and with the return of spring came the great raid of the Merrimac into the waters around Fortress Monroe. On the Sunday that the tidings were received of the terrible destruction she was making with our vessels of war, Dahlgren was sitting in the ordnance office, attending to public business that could not be postponed, when the President was announced. He stepped out to the carriage, when Mr. Lincoln said, "Get your hat and ride up with me." As he took his seat by the President’s side the latter said, "‘I have frightful news to tell you," and then in a calm though earnest manner related to him what the Merrimac had done and threatened to do. In half an hour they were at the White House, where assembled in cabinet meeting were several of the secretaries and General McClellan. After some desultory conversation, the telegrams that had been received were carefully read over and discussed. The President then turned to McClellan, Meigs and Dahlgren, and said: "Now you are a committee to advise measures; just step into the next room and talk it over." But the conclusions they came to were of no consequence, as the arrival of the Monitor settled the matter.

When in the following May the President rode through Fredericksburg and reviewed McDowell’s army, Dahlgren accompanied him, and remarked as it filed away that it would soon be at Hanover Junction, to give McClellan a helping hand. So thought the President. But next morning just at daylight, as they reached the Navy Yard, on their return, and the President crossed the plank from the boat, a telegram was handed him. Glancing at it, he said "Good-morning" to Dahlgren, and stepping into the carriage, drove off with the Secretary of War. That telegram announced the onslaught of Jackson at Harper’s Ferry. Soon after, Dahlgren received a telegram from Washington, asking him if he could send some howitzers to Harper’s Ferry to help defend it. He replied, "Yes, and heavy cannon, too," and that evening, both, with a choice body of seamen, were being whirled fast as steam could carry them on the railroad to the threatened point. The only officer he could spare was a young Master, who, with his son Ulric, soon had them planted, and the 9-inch shells sending consternation among the rebel troops, to whom such enormous missiles of death were the more terrific as they were new. On Thursday, late at night, Ulric came to the War Department with the news of the repulse of Jackson, and returned a captain.

On the 18th of July, 1862, Dahlgren was commissioned Chief of Bureau of Ordnance. A year before it had been offered him, but he declined it, preferring the Navy Yard, if he could not be given more active service. It seems hard at first glance, that an officer who had done so much to make the navy efficient, and shown such great capacity, should be kept on shore, while others scarcely known before were winning a world-wide reputation. But it should be remembered in the first place, that somebody of ability must hold this post, and to whom did it more properly belong than to him? In the second place, there would be manifest injustice in taking a gallant officer from the field where he was winning renown, and shutting him up in a bureau, in which he would be wholly lost sight of. Such an officer would say, and rightly too, that Dahlgren, having secured a reputation second to no naval officer in the world in the ordnance department, should be satisfied with it, and leave to others, less fortunate, the field where rank and renown were to be won by gallant deeds. Though the country has a right to the services of her best men in the way she chooses, yet to have good officers, justice must be done to all.

Dahlgren’s new position necessarily brought him into connection with all the navy yards, foundries of cannon, &c., of the country, and his field became as wide as the theatre of military operations.

Meanwhile, in August, he was made Captain. Soon after, the news of Pope’s battles in front of Washington began to throw the city into the wildest alarm. On the 19th of August, the President sent for Dahlgren on official business, and after it was finished, began to talk over the situation of affairs, closing with the remark "Now I am to have a sweat of it for five or six days." Dahlgren, in the mean time, felt very anxious about his son Ulric, who was fighting on the lines in front, and of whom he could hear but little. But one day the latter burst unexpectedly into his office beaming with health and spirits. Soon after, passing out of the department, they suddenly came upon President Lincoln, who took Ulric warmly by the hand, while a pleasant smile lighted his countenance—now worn and anxious—and drawing him inside the door, said, "Come now, tell me what you have seen." The young soldier rapidly and clearly narrated the events of the past few days, while the President, leaning forward, lost not a word. When he was through, the latter shook him by the hand, and asked him to come and see him again. Not long after, this gallant youth galloped into Fredericksburg with fifty or sixty cavalrymen, and returned with half his number, prisoners.

Among the incorporators of the National Academy of Science, authorized by Congress this session, Dahlgren was named as one, but he declined the honor, because his public duties required all his time.

In the spring he visited the naval ports in the West, to see to the arming of the ironclads, and while at Cairo, heard of the failure of Dupont before Charleston.

When the Government finally relieved Dupont from the command of the South Atlantic Squadron, and put Foote in his place, the latter came to his old friend Dahlgren and urged him to go with him. Though Dahlgren wanted sea service, he preferred an independent command, but he finally consented to command the iron-clads of the fleet. The sudden illness and death of Foote broke up this plan, and Dahlgren was ordered to take his place. This was the 22d of Jan., 1863, and two days after he started for New York to set sail for Charleston. The next week, having purchased a small screw steamer from a packet line, he hurried away with but one staff officer, and not a single domestic, or scarcely the equipment and outfit of a midshipman.

Reaching Port Royal and assuming command of the fleet, he was told by General Gillmore that he wanted him to cooperate immediately in a movement designed to effect a lodgment on Morris Island. Dahlgren had not yet seen the vessels that would be required in the attack—three monitors, he knew, were in the hands of mechanics undergoing repairs—he had not yet formed a staff, he knew nothing of the locality by actual inspection, and was without instructions, yet he was determined that no delay should be charged on him, and he told Gillmore to name the day. The latter said Wednesday, and Dahlgren at once put forth every energy to be ready for battle. The next day Gillmore asked to have the attack deferred for one day. Wednesday night Dahlgren; was off Charleston Bar, and the following morning received word from Gillmore that he had postponed the attack for another day, as he was not ready. At length, on Friday morning, the movement began; our troops were landed, and the enemy breaking fled up to Fort Wagner. Dahlgren, seeing this, steamed after, rolling his ponderous shells along the beach behind the fugitives, and in a short time laid his own monitor abreast of Fort Wagner, followed by the others in line of battle, and opened a terrific fire, which he kept up till noon. Had Gillmore followed up his first success, he doubtless could have entered the fort in triumph. All the southern defenses had fallen, and a vigorous assault on the astonished enemy gave every promise of success. At all events, it should have been made then or not at all.

Dahlgren renewed the attack after giving his men a little refreshment, and kept it up till six o’clock,’ when he withdrew, for he saw that Gillmore intended to make no further effort that day. The severity of the rebel fire may be judged from the fact, that Dahlgren’s vessel was struck sixty-seven times. Although disappointed in Gillmore’s neglect to seize the auspicious moment and dash over the rebel works, he was delighted with the powers of endurance shown by the monitors. Gillmore, in his official report, said that the work of occupying the island could have been done without the navy—then why blame Dupont as he did for not cooperating with him? Either this was not true, or he was guilty of unnecessary delay in putting off the attack till the arrival of Dahlgren, and then making him wait day after day. But he knew that but for the presence of the monitors, the rebel iron-clads would have come down from Charleston and scattered his forces to the winds. However, the next morning Gillmore thought he would try and see what he could do independent of the navy, and ordered an assault without even notifying Dahlgren, and was sadly defeated.

At length, on the 18th of July, came that last fatal assault. Gillmore had signalled in the morning that he would be ready at noon, and at half past eleven Dahlgren got under way in the Montauk, followed by the Patapsco, Catskill, Weehawken, and the Ironsides. At half past twelve he opened with the first gun, and in a few minutes the action became general, and it flamed and thundered from land and water all that hot summer afternoon, while the army inland stood and listened to the uproar. At first the tide was low, so that Dahlgren could not get nearer than twelve hundred yards; but at four o’clock it had flowed so as to give deeper water, and, ordering his anchor up, he steamed to within three hundred yards, closing steadily and sternly with the fort. So rapid and well directed was the fire, that the rebel guns were silenced; and Dahlgren, mounting to the top of the turret to survey the hostile batteries, could not see a head exposed. Night came on, and through the darkness our brave columns surged up to the blazing works, only to melt away and disappear in the gloom.

The next morning Dahlgren sent ashore a flag of truce with a surgeon, to ask for our wounded, and if the request was refused to offer medical aid. Both proposals were rejected. Two days after, he heard that his son Ulric had been dangerously wounded at Gettysburg.

Gillmore now began his regular but slow approaches towards Wagner, which gave the enemy time to strengthen Sumter.

Gillmore, at times, seemed quite independent of the navy, yet on the 11th of August he signalled Dahlgren that Wagner had opened on him with grape and canister, and evidently intended an assault; and asked him to be ready with his gunboats. In a half hour came another telegram, "Open as soon as possible, the enemy’s fire is heavy." Dahlgren did so, sweeping with his terrible fire the whole ground between our lines and the fort.

At half past three in the morning he went up the harbor in his barge, to examine matters personally, as it was his custom to do, and on returning came very near being sunk by the heavy guns of Wagner.

Dahlgren, generous and noble, like most of our naval officers, who are ever willing to give the cooperating land forces all the honor they deserve,, endeavored to remove the ill feeling which had been produced at Washington against Gillmore, for his ill-judged, badly managed assault on Wagner; and requested his flag lieutenant Preston, who was obliged to return North for his health, to see the President, and by explanations remove the bad impressions which he had received. He did so, and the result was: Mr. Lincoln ordered five thousand men to reinforce Gillmore, although Halleck was opposed to it.

In striking contrast with this noble conduct, Gillmore soon began to shift the responsibility of the delays in taking Charleston on Dahlgren and the navy.

In the bombardment of the 18th of August, the latter, after silencing Fort Wagner, shifted his flag from the Weehawken to the Passaic, and with the Patapsco steamed up to Sumter and opened fire. Although the latter, with Gregg and Moultrie, concentrated a terrible fire on these two vessels, he had by noon silenced it. As he withdrew, he learned with grief that Captain Rodgers, his fleet captain, had been killed.

The shore batteries having at length made sad breaches in Sumter, Dahlgren, on the 22d and 23d, again moved against it, but it was found to be impregnable as ever, in fact the lower casemates, mounted with heavy guns, were in excellent condition.

On the night of the 26th Dahlgren determined to feel the defenses at the entrance of the harbor, on his own responsibility, but a heavy squall of wind and rain, succeeded by a heavy fog and blinding storm, kept him groping helplessly about all night, and nothing was accomplished.

An after effort was equally unsuccessful, but in the engagement that followed, he had another fleet captain shot.

The siege of Wagner and bombardment of Sumter went on, and Gillmore, impatient of success and annoyed that he could make no more headway, began to insist that no guns were mounted on Sumter, and therefore the fleet could go past it. This was mere conjecture on his part, for he had never been anything like as near to it as Dahlgren. He also insinuated that a programme had been agreed on between him and the naval commander, and that he had performed his part, and now it remained for the latter to do his, when in fact there had been no such programme at all. Dahlgren’s orders were explicit—to cooperate with and assist Gillmore, which he did.

The whole question is, however, too absurd to be treated seriously. For six weeks the fleet and army had tried in vain to take Wagner alone, and yet the former unaided, according to Gillmore, was quite able to go inside, carry all the batteries that lined the shore clear up to the city—each more powerful than Wagner and commanding each other—or else pass them. But if he could have done the latter, the ironclads would have been cut off from coal and ammunition, and all succor from the troops. It was a new military maxim he was introducing, "divide and conquer."

At length on the 6th of September, the rebels evacuated Fort Wagner, and Morris Island fell into our possession. All hoped that Sumter would now be abandoned, but the bombardment of it by Gillmore’s heavy guns, two and two and a half miles distant, instead of making clean breaches through the walls, as it would have done at short ranges, and with a concentrated fire, had only pounded it into sand, that falling to the base simply converted a stone fort into a sand work like Wagner. When Dahlgren ascertained this fact, he determined to try and carry it by storm. By accident he learned that Gillmore intended to assault it also, on the same night. It was then determined that the attack should be a combined one.

On the night agreed upon, Dahlgren advanced his column in boats, and waited to hear from Gillmore, to whom he had sent his fleet captain, Preston, to see that everything was well understood. The latter returning and reporting all was right, Dahlgren gave the order to advance. Preston asked to lead his division, to which the former reluctantly consented, as it left him without a staff officer, except one who was very young. Before starting, however, he said, "Are you sure that all is right, and no mistake with the General?" He replied, "Yes." Then said Dahlgren, "Go." He never saw him again. In the meantime he steamed up nearer, and then got into his boat and pulled for the fort. It was half an hour or more after midnight, and, just as the oarsmen were dipping their blades, a heavy volley of musketry broke from Sumter; then a rocket shot into the air, followed by a red light that blazed up in the darkness. The next moment the batteries on Sullivan and James Islands opened. Dahlgren kept on, but all was still in Sumter; the conflict was over. The rowers paused, while the shells from the neighboring batteries and rebel ironclads blazed and screamed, and burst over and around his boat, lighting up the waters of the harbor like day.

The assault had failed, and Dahlgren now attempted to regain his steamer, but it had moved off, and he spent the whole night in searching for it.

Gillmore’s column never came up at all, owing, as he said afterwards, to the state of the tide, it being too low for his boats. A sad comment this on his own sagacity. Had he never thought of the tide, when a few hours before he told the gallant Preston that his column would be up in time?

Dahlgren had before become sadly weakened in his naval force, by damage to his vessels, &c., so that he had but four monitors left, with the Ironsides, fit for duty, and now, by those lost in the assault, he was weakened in men. Of this small fleet, one, the Montauk, was sadly in need of repairs, and another had her smoke pipe nearly carried away.

The failure of this assault awakened a great deal of senseless clamor against Dahlgren, brought about in a great measure by the statements of newspaper correspondents, who hovered around Gillmore’s headquarters to manufacture public opinion. The former was blamed for attempting the only thing that remained to be done; for, to endeavor with his few vessels to force the entrance of the harbor, would have been simply suicide.

On the 5th of October, a torpedo exploded under the Ironsides, which came very near being a very serious accident.

The public being greatly dissatisfied that Charleston was not taken, and the Navy Department coming in for its share of abuse—the more severe, because of its treatment of Dupont—it ordered a council of war to be called in the fleet, to decide upon the propriety of an attempt to force an entrance into the harbor. In this Dahlgren took no part, except to submit all the papers, &c., necessary to come to a just conclusion. Its decision was "that there would be extreme risk without adequate results, by entering the harbor of Charleston with seven monitors, the object being to penetrate to Charleston."

After this decision by the gallant commanders of those vessels, who had been so long on the spot, it is a waste of words to discuss the propriety of Gillmore’s assertion, that they could and ought to do it. An admiral who should take the opinion of a military officer, whose operations are all on land, against the decision of a board of naval commanders, would deserve to be dismissed the service. If any other proof were wanted of the wisdom of Dahlgren’s course, we might cite a letter of General Sherman to him, when operating from Savannah, in which he declares, "it would be unwise to subject his ships to the heavy artillery of the enemy, and his sunken torpedoes." The truth is, the passage of the forts below New Orleans and off Mobile, had greatly misled the public, in its judgment of the whole matter. In both the other cases, when the point of danger was passed, there was a clear river or open water beyond, where the vessels were safe from attack; but in Charleston harbor, they could only silence batteries—not get away from them—a useless business, unless there was a land force to occupy them. Sherman, who knew Charleston harbor well, corroborates this view. He says, that if Dahlgren " had gone into the inner harbor, and up Cooper River, the enemy could easily have held all his works on James and Sullivan’s Islands without trouble, &c." We think that General Sherman and the decision of the council of war, versus the opinion of General Gillmore, will be all that any man of common sense will need to come to a just decision on Dahlgren’s course. The assertion of Gillmore was an after-thought to shield himself from the blame that always attaches to a commander who fails to meet the public expectation.

In November, while in obedience to Gillmore’s request to keep the rebels from an attack by boats on the face of Cummings Point, the Lehigh got aground in the darkness, when all the batteries on Sullivan’s Island opened on her. Dahlgren at once signalled the other ironclads to engage the batteries, while he went up in the Passaic to investigate matters. Finding the Nahant nearer the grounded vessel than he could get in his own, he took his barge and rowed to her. Dr. Longshaw and two seamen then took a line in an open boat, and passed through the fire to the Lehigh. Three hawsers, which were carried aboard her, were cut in succession; one by shot and the other two by the sharp edges of the deck. The shells fell in a perfect shower around the two vessels, but a hawser was at length secured, and the Nahant steamed ahead, but the Lehigh would not stir. Dahlgren then ordered the Montauk to make fast to the Nahant, and both pull together. They started, and he watched the struggle with intense interest, for if this effort did not succeed, the poor monitor would have to lie there for twelve hours, the target of the enemy, before another could be made. But the hawser held fast, and under the tremendous strain the Lehigh moved off amid the cheers of the crews, and once more floated in deep water.

The latter part of this month Dahlgren was cheered as well as saddened, by a visit from his gallant son Ulric, who had recovered from his long illness, resulting from his wound at Gettysburg, but at the sacrifice of his leg. In the mean time he kept pounding away at Sumter, though effecting nothing. On the 6th of December, a gale arose, and he saw with grief the Weehawken go down, almost alongside, with between twenty and thirty of her crew. Winter was now on them with its gales, and the monitors were almost constantly under water, the sea breaking clean over their decks, leaving only the tops of the turrets dry. The men, when wishing a little fresh air, clustered around the stacks to keep warm, making the duty of keeping watch and ward here a most cheerless and trying one. At night this was still worse, for torpedo boats had to be guarded against, and blockade runners prevented from entering. Drenched, and chilled, and wearied, they thus passed the long weeks, while men before their cheerful fires at home criticized the naval commander, and wondered that more was not done.

In February, another vessel, the Housatonic, was sunk by a torpedo.

Dahlgren had other duties besides those in Charleston harbor. Three hundred miles of coast, including seventeen ports, were under his charge, and had to be kept blockaded by a fleet seldom numbering less than seventy vessels. The varied and multiplied duties required of him, to direct and manage all this, were of the most exhausting kind. During this trying period he lost four chiefs of staffs, thus necessarily increasing his burdens.

In the latter part of February, he visited Washington at the request of the Secretary of the Navy. He reached the capital the 2d of March, the very night that his son Ulric was killed below Richmond. When the sad news was received, President Lincoln sent for him, and expressed the deepest sympathy with his great loss. Dahlgren saying that he wished to go to Fort Monroe to learn more of his boy and recover his body, "Go," replied the President, "ask no one, I will stand by you." He went, but failed in his mission, and in the middle of April prepared to return to the squadron. Before leaving, he complained to the President of the abuse heaped upon him, to which Mr. Lincoln replied, “Well, you never heard me complain, did you?" The latter spoke with tears in his eyes of the fate of Ulric. As he pressed his hand for the last time, he little dreamed that the fatal bullet would soon bring him to a similar end. Dahlgren never saw him again, but he will remember those last kind words forever.

Arriving at Port Royal on the 2d of May, he found Gillmore had left with the tenth corps to join Butler. A week later he was in Charleston harbor, when he again convened a council of war to determine what course to pursue, in which it was decided that no serious attack on Sumter should be made. Dahlgren therefore went down the coast to look after the blockade. During the summer he forwarded to the committee on the conduct of the war his answer to their queries respecting operations around Charleston. We refer the reader who wishes to see a complete vindication of Dahlgren, to this document. Foster having succeeded Gillmore, the latter planned an expedition to Stone River, in which Dahlgren assisted with his monitors. Although it failed of success, the latter performed his part thoroughly, and to the satisfaction of the commander.

In August he had the gratification of receiving the fifty prisoners that had been kept under fire in Charleston, who cheered him as they came alongside. In the mean time he received a photographic copy of the paper said to be found on his son when killed, in which the burning of Richmond was ordered. He never believed for a moment the foul calumny on his noble-spirited boy; but it was a satisfaction to find that the paper itself, without further evidence, proved it to be a forgery, for the signature was written “Dalhgren” instead of “Dahlgren”—a mistake impossible for Ulric to have made. Dahlgren made it the occasion of writing a reply to the slander of the rebels, which he published in the Herald of Aug. 8th. But while the summer passed thus without interest around Charleston, Dahlgren’s squadron was busy along the Southern coast. Toward the latter part of November, it being known that Sherman had cut loose from Atlanta, Foster determined to make a diversion in his favor. To assist him Dahlgren organized a fleet brigade. Although it numbered but five hundred men, it was complete; for Dahlgren drilled! it himself. On the 29th of November the expedition started, Dahlgren taking a squadron of light draft steamers, and his fleet brigade. It moved up Broad River, and then struck inland for the Savannah and Charleston Railroad., The enemy were met and a severe conflict followed, in which Dahlgren’s fleet brigade, with their destructive howitzers, did good service, and won the highest commendation.

On the 12th of December a messenger reached Dahlgren from Sherman, who was near Savannah. Two days after, Sherman himself met him in the Warsaw Sound, having come down to communicate with him the moment Fort McAllister fell. They returned together to Ossabaw Sound, and talked over the situation thoroughly. Sherman then went back to the lines; but soon after, again came down to see Dahlgren, when they arranged for a united attack on the works around Savannah.

They went together to Port Royal to complete the arrangements, and the next day returned in the Harvest Moon; but finding a gale outside, Dahlgren put into Tybee, and tried the inside passage. Getting aground, he took Sherman in his barge and pulled for Ossabaw Sound. Just before reaching it, a little tug was seen puffing away under a full head of steam. As she came alongside the captain held up a slip of paper on which was written: "Savannah has surrendered." Two days later, Dahlgren had the pleasure of lunching with Sherman in the captured city. But, soon after, hearing that the iron-clads of Charleston were coming out in a last death struggle with his vessels, he hastened back; but found it was only a sensation rumor.

In the beginning of the new year he went to Savannah, to superintend the embarkation of the right wing of the army under Howard, destined for Beaufort. It took place on the narrow winding creek of St. Augustine; the banks of which, crowded with 20,000 or 30,000 men, presented a stirring spectacle. Dahlgren, struck with the dead silence that reigned through the waiting ranks, said to Sherman: "They seem to have no tongues." "Ah," replied the latter, with a grim smile, "they can make noise enough when they choose."

Dahlgren now bent all his efforts to assist Sherman in carrying out his plans, and, before the army was ready to move, he went to Charleston, to commence clearing out the obstructions in the harbor.

The day before the hazardous work was to begin, Dahlgren had been constantly on the move, attending to every thing; and, wearied with his labors, about bed-time dropped to sleep on the sofa. He had been asleep only a short time, when he was suddenly aroused by the commander of the Patapsco, who stood before him, and startled him with the brief announcement that his vessel had just gone to the bottom, sunk by a torpedo. In one minute from the time it exploded, the vessel was under the waves. One man below was saved; he saw much in the fleeting moments allowed him to dart along the lower deck. He happened to have his eyes directed to the ward-room, where many officers were gathered around the table-one being seated upon it. In a twinkling the deck was blown open, and the table and all around it dashed violently upward against the deck above, that formed the ceiling of the apartment. The lights went out, and he heard the men struggling desperately, but in vain, to get up the hatch. He made for it himself, and, finding it free, dashed up it. The sea was pouring over it, and some one, pressing close behind him, was borne back by the torrents of water that rushed down, and never rose again. He himself struggled on deck, reaching it just as it sunk beneath the surface; and, floating off, was picked up by the boats.

Such was the brief, sad story told to Dahlgren, who, aroused from his sleep by the startling intelligence, jumped into his barge and pulled to the spot. It was midnight; not a sound broke the Sabbath stillness of the scene; all was silent as death. The story was told—the brave crew were sleeping their last sleep beneath the waves.

Soon after, he received a letter from Sherman, announcing the commencement of his grand march, and the direction he was taking. Dahlgren at once placed suitable forces in the Edisto and Stono, to cooperate with him, and was everywhere superintending the movements required to meet the exigencies arising in various quarters.

The Dai-ching in the mean time grounded in the Combahee, right under the guns of a rebel battery. Chaplin, the commander, fought her bravely to the last, and, when he found her a wreck, set her on fire, and escaped with his crew. On the 1st of February, Dahlgren jots down: “Nothing from Sherman; he is marching on, I know." At the same time he received a letter from his son Charles, who landed with a detachment from his vessel to assist in the assault on Fort Fisher. The latter wrote: “I fired my rifle thirty-four times from a rest, and you know I never miss." This brave son participated in the siege of Vicksburg.

Dahlgren’s vessels were scattered all along the coast at this time, requiring him to move almost continually from one point to another-one day being in the North Edisto, another in the Stono, and a third in Bull’s Bay; one day superintending the fire of those vessels engaged with the enemy, and another seeing to the landing of troops.

Gillmore now came down to supersede Foster, and Dahlgren, much to his regret, found himself once more in communication with an officer in whose integrity and truthfulness he had no confidence. However, it was the public interest first, and private griefs afterwards; and he immediately consulted with him on the movements required to assist Sherman, and a demonstration at Bull’s Bay was determined on. While engaged in covering the landing of the troops, he received a dispatch from Sherman, in cipher, dated at Midway, on the railroad. On the 17th, he sent some vessels into the Stono to aid Schimmelfennig, and, at the same time, ordered the naval battery on Morris Island to open fire, and all night the booming of his heavy guns broke over the water.

The end was now approaching; Charleston was evacuated, and Dahlgren steamed up the harbor with all his captains aboard, and landed in the city. The streets were silent, the houses shut; but a fire, kindled by the rebels, was still raging. This he soon extinguished, and saved the city from further ruin. Next day he learned that Lieutenant Bradford, who had been mortally wounded in the unsuccessful night assault on Sumter and died in a Charleston hospital, had been dug up, after being buried by a friend in the Magnolia Cemetery, and thrust ignominiously into the Potter’s-field. He had him disinterred at once, and buried with the honors due an American soldier.

Not knowing but that Sherman would wish to open communication with the seaboard farther up the coast, he at once sent some vessels and marines to seize Georgetown and hold it.

In the mean time he examined the defenses of Charleston, and found ocular proof of what he knew before-that an attempt to force his way up to it with his vessels would have been simply foolhardiness and ended in defeat and disgrace. He then went to Georgetown, and established everything on a firm footing there.

On the 1st of March, as he was steaming out of the harbor, on his return to Charleston, and pacing the cabin while breakfast was preparing, he was startled by a loud noise and shock, that made everything rattle, and blew in the partition. He hurried out, and, observing the men rushing for the boats, was about to ascend himself to the upper deck, when he saw a great gap beside him, and felt the vessel sinking. A torpedo had exploded under the boat, and she was fast settling in the water. A tug near by, witnessing the disaster, steamed alongside, and took off the crew. In a few minutes the Harvest Moon set forever.

Hoisting his flag on another vessel, he proceeded to Charleston to witness the dispersion of his command for his long and weary work in Charleston Harbor was drawing to a close.

A correspondence now followed between him and General Gillmore respecting the official report of the latter, in which he reflected unjustly on Dahlgren and the navy in the operations before Charleston, and also on the statement of his correspondents to the same effect. We cannot give it here, and will only say that it was characterized on the one hand by that straightforward, frank manner, so universal with naval officers, and on the other with a disingenuousness always attached to one who, having done wrong, will neither retract nor fairly meet it.

The balance of the time previous to Lee’s and Johnston’s surrender, Dahlgren was employed in removing obstructions in Charleston Harbor and in buoying out the channel and in sending forces up the various rivers to protect the inhabitants and preserve order.

On the 17th of June, having sent home most of his vessels, he set sail for Washington, and on the 12th of next month struck his flag as admiral of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The Navy Department, in relieving him, complimented him for " the ability and energy " he had shown in his arduous command for two years, and expressed its high " appreciation of his services and those associated with him in the efficient blockade of the coast and harbors at a central and important position of the Union, and in the work of repossessing the forts and restoring the authority and supremacy of the Government in the Southern States." Sherman also said, before the Committee on the Conduct of the War: “On the morning of the 3d of May, we ran into Charleston Harbor, where I had the pleasure of meeting Admiral Dahlgren, who had, in all my previous operations, from Savannah northward, aided me with a constancy and manliness that commanded my entire respect and deep affection." In what striking contrast does this grand and noble testimony stand with the unjust statements and Jesuitical language of Gillmore, whom he had aided in the same manly, unselfish spirit, from beginning to end.

As soon as Dahlgren was free from official duty, he devoted himself to caring for the remains of his gallant son, which had been identified and brought on. Owing to the heat of the weather the funeral ceremonies were deferred till October.

From the council chamber where he lay, covered with the flag to uphold the honor of which he had given his young life, it was but a short distance to the church. "Every spot was alive with the memories of former days," for it had been pressed over and over again by his young feet. His lifeless body was borne close by the door where he had passed most of his brief life. From the windows, now crowded with sympathizing spectators, had been witnessed day by day his boyish outgoings and incomings. The church which was to witness the parting services had held him each Sabbath as it came. The President and Cabinet, and high officers were present. From Washington he was carried to Philadelphia, and laid in the Hall of Independence. There the pastor who had baptized him delivered a discourse, when with notes of solemn music, and surrounded by glittering bayonets, he was carried to the grave, and gently, tenderly laid close beside his mother. Peace to his ashes! Unselfish, noble, good, and gallant, he was beloved by all, and almost adored by his father.

In February, Dahlgren was made a member of a joint board to consider the defenses of our harbors, Gillmore was a member of the same board, but Dahlgren refusing to serve with him, he was detached; once with him was enough for Dahlgren. In May, he was named as President of the Board of Visitors to the Naval School at Annapolis. He is now in command of the South Pacific squadron.

Dahlgren, by his inventive genius in the construction of ordnance, and his bold and original plan of arming vessels of war, has done more for the Navy of our country, than probably any single man in it. At the same time he has given it éclat abroad, for every European writer on ordnance and ship armament, has to recognize his genius and improvements.

It is curious to see the strange contradiction which is sometimes presented in the same man, between his mental and moral character. Dahlgren, whose whole life seems to have been spent in inventing and forging the most terrible instruments of death, increasing the destructive power of cannon fourfold, is yet possessed of the gentlest, tenderest feelings of our nature. To go over his works, and see how coolly and scientifically he gauges destructive force, one might imagine him to be a man of blood, one who loved carnage; whereas a kinder, gentler, nobler heart never beat in a human bosom. His inventions and improvements are the result of careful study of his profession, of scientific skill combined with original genius. In any other profession in which his great mathematical ability and originality could have had free scope, he would have made similar discoveries, and worked out and introduced equally astonishing improvements.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of his mind is its completeness. It does not advance one step, and then wait to see that tested before proceeding to another. His plans, when completed in his own brain, are also complete for actual adoption in all their details. The inventions of most men reveal, on actual trial, some defect not provided- for-show some point overlooked. But everything proceeding from Dahlgren’s mind comes, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter, completely panoplied. Indeed, so perfect has every improvement he has made been, that he himself can hardly see where an alteration could be made. Nothing could show more forcibly with what mathematical accuracy and certainty his mind works, and how perfect is the intellectual machinery which has produced such wonderful results.

Chapter XXIV

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