IT IS interesting to test and weigh the capabilities of the men of the Navy of 1929, compare the results with what we know of the crews of our men-of-war in the days gone by, and thus ascertain how far we have progressed. It is customary to refer to those former men—now gone to the place where all good sailors go—as “iron men,” leaving the inference that the Navy sailormen are now of some softer metal or of something still softer and less durable, namely, wood. This inference we can say with entire surety is absurd.
From what is known of the Navy’s men in the War of the Revolution and the War of 1812, it is safe to write them down as very considerably lacking in American origin; as being willing to fight in many instances only so far as they were driven to it or led by hard-bitten officers; as patriotic in many cases as the prospect of prize money can create patriotism; and as possessed of only enough intelligence to ram home round shot into the business end of smooth-bore guns. Not much was expected of the Navy’s men in those days and not much was given them in comparison with the direct and indirect emoluments of today.