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Harper's Round Table, September 3, 1895   By:

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[Illustration: HARPER'S ROUND TABLE]

Copyright, 1895, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All Rights Reserved.






"All hands to muster!" rang out from the harsh throats of the boatswain's mates of the U.S.S. Kearsarge , and the crew came tumbling aft to the quarter deck. They were as fine looking a set of bluejackets as one would care to see, the cream of the navy and the naval reserve.

The new Kearsarge was cruising off the coast of Great Britain for the purpose of intercepting one of the enemy's finest cruisers, which was known to have recently left England, and was on the way to join her sister ships in her own country.

Every one aboard the American ship was wild to meet the enemy, and the Kearsarge 's crew had not a fear that the fight would result differently from the one fought by her namesake forty five years before.

The lookout had just reported smoke to the eastward, from which direction the enemy was expected. When all hands were "up and aft," the Captain addressed his men upon the impending conflict.

"Men," he said, "we are here to fight the most formidable of our enemy's cruisers. She is equal in every respect to the mighty ship upon which we stand. There are no chances in our favor. The battle will depend upon your coolness and courage.

"Men of the main battery, upon you depends the result of the action. Your target is the armored sides and turrets.

"Men of the secondary battery, your nerve and endurance are to be put to the crucial test. Your guns must be directed at the unarmored gun parts and torpedo tubes.

"Remember, all of you, a lucky shot may turn the tide of battle.

"Officers and men, upon you depends whether the new Kearsarge shall win a name as lasting and illustrious as did the noble ship from which that name was inherited.

"The eyes of the world are upon you."

A few minutes later the Captain and the executive officers are upon the forward bridge, discussing the minor details of the plan of action, and casting apprehensive glances at the low line of black smoke on the eastern horizon.

The former is a fine looking young officer, who has been rapidly advanced to commanding rank through his zeal and untiring labors to perfect the navy of his country.

Many an article from his pen on how a ship should be fought has been published in the scientific papers of America; but now he must put his theories to the test to learn by experience, bitter or sweet, whether he merited the commendation which his numerous articles on naval science have won for him.

The Kearsarge , which was launched in 1900, is an armored cruiser of 9000 tons displacement, 420 feet in length, and 64 feet in breadth. The main battery consists of four 10 inch breech loading rifles, firing projectiles weighing 500 pounds; two mounted in a 10 inch armored turret forward on midship line, and two in a similarly placed turret aft, and four 8 inch breech loading rifles, firing projectiles weighing 250 pounds, mounted two each in a 6 inch armored turret on either beam.

The secondary battery consists of twelve 5 inch rapid fire guns and eight 6 pounders mounted in armored sponsons on a covered gun deck. On her superstructure rail, about 15 feet above the spar deck, she carries twelve 37 millimeter revolver cannon and four long 1 pounders. With this tremendous battery she can hurl two tons of steel from one broadside of her main battery every minute, and 362 pounds of steel from her secondary broadside every five seconds. The velocity of this metal on striking within battle range would be about twenty five miles a minute. The heavy shells, if striking within the biting angle, can penetrate the armor of any war vessel afloat.

On her berth deck she carries five torpedo tubes with two automobile Whitehead torpedoes for each tube... Continue reading book >>

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