General Nathaniel Miles


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, August 19, 1865

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VOL. IX.—No. 451.]



Entered according to Act. of Congress, in the Year 1865, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.


As the navy will in future constitute the strong arm of our military power, it is of the first importance that the system for training its seamen should be as perfect as possible. It is not enough that we have at Annapolis an excellent school of instruction even under Admiral PORTER'S supervision. Our best men in the army and navy are usually those who have developed their efficiency rather in the practice than in the merely theoretical study of their profession.

The need of a naval apprentice system, which had been on trial in our service, and failed, owing to a variety of causes, made itself apparent at the commencement of the rebellion. The scarcity of naval seamen, men who were conversant with the routine and duties of men-of-war, gave the department much anxiety, and caused considerable delay in fitting out vessels for the pressing and important demands of that time. It is true the Government has for many years been paying large bounties to fishermen off our northeastern coast ; but experience has already proved that these fishermen, though the best material out of which a navy can be made, are not al-ways ready to respond to the calls which may be made upon their services. England has her apprentice system ; but in this country it has met with but little approval.

Our apprentice system was formally inaugurated by an act of Congress, dated March 2, 1837, but aft-ea' many disappointments it was abandoned in 1843, and was not revived until 1864. In May of last year the Sabine was ordered to be put in commission as a practice and school ship for naval apprentices. under the command of Lieutenant-Commander R. B. LOWRY, United States Navy, who was specially selected by the Navy Department for the very important and arduous duty of organizing and establishing on a firm basis the nucleus from which the future rank and file of the navy was to emanate, and in such a form as not only to be reliable at all times, but of a character which would place our vessels upon an equal, if not make them superior to those of any naval power. Owing to the piratical visit of the Tallahassee and other rebel craft the Saline was sent to the eastern coast to

protect our commerce and fishing interests, and her services were considered so valuable in that section the people of Portland induced the Navy Department to retain her at that port until the danger which threatened them was past; so that it was not until October, 1864, that Commander LOWRY was enabled to fairly enter upon the organization of this important system. During her stay, how-ever, about one hundred and thirty boys were en-listed as apprentices.

The first boy enlisted as a naval apprentice under the new organization, was E. CONLEDGE HARRINGTON, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, aged fifteen years and six months. Ile is now on board, and is one of the most promising boys in the ship. There are now over two hundred boys on board the Sabine. The conditions of enlistment are strict as to character, and it is required that the age be not under four-teen nor over eighteen. At fourteen they must measure not less than four feet eight inches iii height, and twenty-seven inches around the chest; at fifteen years their height must be four feet ten inches, and twenty-nine inches around the chest. Each candidate must be able to read, write, and spell ; be free from physical disabilities well-grown, healthy, active, and exhibit an aptitude for the ocean and the duties of sea-life.

After passing the examination before the surgeon and instructors, the paymaster furnishes the apprentice for immediate use with the following articles of clothing : One pea-jacket, cloth cap, pair of cloth trousers, flannel over and under shirts, pair of drawers, shoes, neck-tie, socks, white duck pants and frock, comb, knife, pot, pan, and spoon, one bar soap, clothes-bag, and a badge. The boy is then taken to the ship's corporal, who assists him in the transformation from a landsman to a sailor-boy. Next the sailmaker furnishes him with a hammock —his bed until of age. Then the master-at-arms places him in a mess, and, at the same time, gives him a printed form, on which is registered his number, that of his bag and hammock, a list of his clothing, and points out the place v here he is to swing his hammock. Each boy has a number given to him when he enlists, and he retains that number as long as he is an apprentice.

A tailor is allowed for every hundred boys. They




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