U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps
Brooklyn Navy Yard
Burlington Free Press
December 20, 1861
[Correspondence of the Free Press.]
Letter from New York.
New York, Dec. 9, 1866 (sic)
Messrs. Editors of the Free Press:
For a busy place just now, visit the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There are nearly 3000 men employed in the different departments of the Yard, and with so large a force, constructions and repairs are pushed forward with great rapidity.-There are 12 or 14 U.S. vessels in the Yard now a number of them steamers. A fine vessel was launched on Saturday, the Octorara. She is a side wheel steamer of about 900 tons, and is to carry two 11-inch rifled cannon and two Parrot guns,-She is build with bow and stern alike, as the ferry boats here are,-the object being to avoid the necessity of turning round after ascending a river or creek.
In the Dry Dock,-just now very wet,-was the Winona, one of the new gun boats, awaiting examination for a supposed injury to her bottom.-She is a handsome craft, carrying a heavy pivot gun amidships and several small brass pieces.
At another dock lay the hull of a large propeller, completely covered with workmen, like a dead bettle with ants. Under a huge derrick lay a steamer-the Quaker City I understand-taking guns on board. Three other steamers lay close by Further along was the Crusader, a 10 gun ship, which has been on duty in the Gulf,-with fire under her boilers and blowing off steam; whether just come in, or getting ready to go out, I cannot say. A whole fleet of sailing vessels lay around her.
Out in the Basin lay the receiving ship, the North Carolina, just as she has for I don't know how many years. It was impossible to procure a pass to visit her that day. She has 700 seamen on board now, over 200 of whom were received last week. Recruiting for the Navy is very brisk, just now. Government has purchased or hired almost every steamer of any size that was to be had here, all at least that can stand a sea voyage. And so large a fleet as the newly built, purchased, and hired vessels of our Navy make, requires a very large force of seamen to man them. Since Fort Royal, the Navy is in high favor.
In the same ship-house that held the Niagara, another steamer of the same build is now on the stocks. She will be called the Adirondack and is to be just like the Niagara, but 15 feet shorter.-Her launch well worth seeing.
On the Square in front of the ship-houses, lay rows of cannon, mostly columbiads, of different sizes, new, and some of them evidently just from the foundry. Among them I noticed all boxed-or framed, rather, ready for delivery-one of Wiard's steel guns, a rifled cannon which is attracting considerable attention just now, and is by some held superior to any yet invented. A movable shed, covering three or four guns at a time, contained armorers busily at work finishing up the guns, putting in sights, hammers, vents, & c. And the whole place rang with the noise of hammer and mallet, chisel and plane. The long rows of furnaces in the blacksmith shop were all a-glow, carpenters swarmed everywhere, under sheds, on docks, upon vessels; planks and timbers on strong men's shoulders, were passing and re-passing to different points where they were wanted, all the time; sentries paced back and forth on every dock; blue jackets flew around like flocks of gulls. If anyone thinks "the Government is not doing much to put down the rebellion," let him walk through the Brooklyn Navy Yard," for one place, and learn, if he can, how many vessels have been sent out from it since the 4th of March last. His opinion will change, at least as to the Navy.
Of the standard curiosities of the Yard, the old Spanish and French guns, the great "Peacemaker," the Museum, &c., &c., I need say nothing; they have often been described; and I noticed nothing particularly new, except a trophy from Pensacola, the tompion of the gun spiked by the Colorado's boats, when the privateer Judith was [burned?] by them in September.
Contributed by Denis & Karen Jaquish.