The construction of war ships has within the last forty years undergone many changes; among these have been the abandonment of sails as a sole means of propulsion, and the substitution of steam as the chief motive power, the application of armor as a means of defense, and the change from wood to iron as the material of construction. During the era of sails the vessels of our navy were unexcelled for speed, handiness of movement, gracefulness of form, and for all the qualities attainable by vessels propelled by means of sails. The advent of steam found the art of building sailing vessels in a highly advanced state; the materiel of our navy was probably at that time more effective, in proportion to its size, than that of any other country. In the introduction of steam our government took a leading part, so that at the outbreak of the civil war we had a fair proportion of steam vessels, as compared with other nations; but, unfortunately, a large part of them were of too great draught for the service then required.
N. B. Clark