The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, July 28, 1898, Page 11, Image 11
R The Conservative. 11 Some Naval Lessons of the \Viir. It is too soon yet to focus all the side lights which will hnvo been shed oil the problems of uavnl wnrfaro by the out come of the Spanish-Americau conflict. The failure of the enemy's navy to jus tify many of the expectations which had been formed of its effective fighting strength precludes some of the light which might have come from a great naval battle on the side of sea tactics and strategy. This probably would not have been much greater , however , in the case of arniorclads than of wooden ships , for the broad principles whir' won at Salamis , Lopauto and Trafalgar will always hold good. Some things have been made clear. The apprehension felfc over the power of the torpedo boat as a sea weapon has been greatly allayed. The battle which annihilated Cervera's fleet proved con clusively that a multiplicity of rapid firing guns , well served , is a pretty sure defense against such a fighting factor. The torpedo boat is , like the cobra , dead ly in its stroke , but easily killed before reaching the striking distance. One mysterious terror has received a douche of cold sea water. Only by a union of great skill and daring in the service of torpedo warfare and under most favora ble conditions , can it bo raised to its Nth power. Again , the importance of increased speed in our battleships has been signally enforced. The Cristobal Colon would unquestionably have es caped had it not been for the Oregon , an unusually swift battleship , and the fast Brooklyn. All the foreign admiral ties are planning battleships with mini mum speed of from 17 to 18 knots , and yet our naval department fatuously lays out its -now ships for a minimum 15 knot speed and rejects the chief engi neer's recommendation for the most im proved boilers and engines , because they will take up too much room. The need of a greater ratio of armored cruis ers with a very high speed has also been made clear as noonday. The great Nel son's cry was over : "Frigates , more frigates ! I have sail of the line enough. " Higli powered , armored ships with their lighter heels and greater firing radius are likely to bo quite as valuable an element in triumphant sea fighting as the slower liners with their maximum battery strength. Not fewer battleships , but more armored cruisers should bo the shibboleth of coming naval estimates , if wo crave a well balanced navy. The most notable lesson of all is the tremendous potency sheathed in the phrase , "Tho man behind the gun. More than over now that the agency of attack involves the skillful command of the most complex , ingenious and nicely adjusted mechanism , do the discipline and intelligence of the purely human factor count. The knowledge of our men and officers , trained by practice to the most prompt and efficient work , has excited the admiration of the world. Iluro wo have had the biggest odds against the Spaniard. And in this ele ment of preponderance we could proba bly challenge the world for a match. The Hand of Kate. There are certain progressive , or rath er cumulative , tendencies in history , for which we can find no other name than fatality. The movement may bo delay ed or for a time even reversed. Wo do not always recognize the inevitable cer tainty toward a goal , as contemporary critics. It is only in the retrospect where all the relations of facts in the paat as well as the present become clear ly outlined that this melancholy stamp shows its deep brand as if burned in with fire. The downfall of nations al ways offers material for reflection of this kind. Individuals pay the penalty according to measure of long continued blunders and vices. With peoples and governments even more than with indi viduals The mills of the gods grind slowly , But they grind exceedingly flno , and conclusions are ultimately reached , pitiless as the climax of a Greek trage dy , where the idea of doom or fate scarcely wears a mask. The decadence of Spain impresses us in this fashion with such vividness that detestation of the deeds and characteristics which have accelerated the ruin lacks bitter ness to lessen pity for its completeness. Only three centuries ago Spain was practically the dictator of Europe , the most powerful people in the world , into whose lap the gold and silver of a new world poured in a ceaseless stream and against whom other nations found it necessary to combine for safety as against a public enemy. The elements which caused Spanish decay began ( do their fatal work oven when the power which was welded under the gieat Charles V was at its height. Religious bigotry , which crushed all thought and made education a farce ; political intolerance erance , which disdained the rights of other nations as a matter of principle and even made oppression a virtue ; commercial blindness , which saw profit alone in an iron restriction of trade ; haughtiness of caste , which looked on the masses as merely serviceable tools ; pride so petrified as to revolt against any instruction from the contemporary progress of other peoples all these evil factors have been dominant in Spanish life for three centuries and still show their enfeebled but convulsive energies Spain ban learned nothing , forgotten nothing. The whole world has been moving on She has limped backward She has lost successively her great colonial nial possessions and become the mere shell of a nation. Fate has chosen the newest of the great powers to deal the final coup , the stroke of the matador Unwillingly as the United States became came the instrument of destiny it maybe bo a compensating thought that it is ii the pulverization of Spanish power and its present conditions that a now life may find its birth , as French life found its renewal from the debris of the revo lution of 17S9. Decay and death pre cede regeneration in political as in nat ural life. * " * " - . . Some of the most curious of lawsuits have grown out of inheritance cases where husband and wife have perished in a common catastrophe. The issue has been to determine whether husband or wife died first , thus fixing the line of inheritance for the relations of one or the other. Such a case has sprung from the Bourgogno disaster , involving the disposition of some $30,000. The presumption - sumption in such cases in absence of proof is always against the wife , as being - ing the party of naturally inferior strength. The prize ring is still in evidence with its batteries of fists and bellowing of loud mouthed braggarts. It is a no ticeable fact , however , that while near ly all trades , professions and ranks of society are represented in the ranks gal lantly risking life for national dignity and honor , not a single IJLOWU pugilist has gone to the front. These "flash" gentry find fisticuffs far moro safe and profitable. Such vermin naturally dis like the purring of the Mausers. Mr. Cuuniughamo-Graham , a well known British "crank" and an ox-M. P. , has written to the St. James Ga zette , charging that the adicmihlo pre cision of Dowoy's gunnery in the Manila battle was duo to British deserters , de coyed from the China fleet by high Wf.ges. Now he will probably add that Sampson's marksmen ran away from British men-o'-war at Halifax and Nas sau. Missionaries are getting ready to sow their seed where the war plow has gone in advance. It has been said that the usual sequence is , first , the missionary and then the bayonet. The present case reverses the procedure. Lot us hope that the questionable third term of the series , multiplication of rum drinking , will not fulfill the triad. Mexican newspapers are speculating over the push of the great republic Asiaward. They believe it will make San Francisco a second Now York and create a chain of prosperous ports along the Pacific coast , some of which will fatten under the Mexican eagle. The magnificent record made b > American warships in the actual oxi geucios of battle has greatly impressed foreign observers. Already indications of large government orders from abroad are in the air , one of the commercial fruits of war. Though wo appreciate the compliment , wo might hint that our achievement has boon a matter of brain mottle as well as of gun metal , armor plate and machinery.