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Here A's rear division breaks through the enemy's line, each vessel of it pouring a raking broadside into his number eight and number nine, and coming sharp round the stern of number nine, and then moving up astern of his centre and van, already engaged in front by A's centre and van, and assailed in flank by A's reserve.
In the second case (Fig. 3), where A finds B closing up his right wing, and forming it into echelon, with the intention of attacking his centre, he should make the same disposition of his vessels as before, except that it will be better to throw the whole left wing into echelon, thus:
Now, let A preserve only such speed as shall enable B to come fairly down upon him, in the belief that he intends to engage in his present formation, until B has approached too near to retreat, when A makes signal full speed, and the instant he finds that he has outflanked B, he comes S.W. and signals to the right wing slow,* and attacks as shown by Fig. 7.
* His object in “slowing” his right, is that it may not in. terfere with the fire of his left wing and reserve in passing B's left wing
In this "cross attack” upon B's right wing and reserve,* it is manifest that the advantage would be altogother on the side of B's opponent, since the leading vessels of B's right wing would be exposed, not only to the raking broadside fire of such of A's vessels as were crossing their bows, but to the oblique fire of those that were coming up; the leaders of B’s reserve being subject in
* When acting upon the defensive, it is, no doubt, prudent to keep a division strictly in reserve, somewhere near the centre of the fleet, in readiness to succor that portion of it which may be assailed; but, in assuming the offensive, I think the sooner the “reserve ” is “put in” the better. Here it will be observed that both A and B have developed all their strength with the design of attacking; the former having gained the advantage solely by stratagem. A good military maxim to be deduced from our experience ashore and afloat during the rebellion would be, I should say: On the offensive dare everything; on the defensive risk nothing.
like manner to the direct raking fire of A's reserve, while his left wing, after being assailed on both flanks by the raking fire of A's left wing and reserve (to which would be added the oblique fire of A's reserve on its left), would be engaged in front by A's right wing. *
In conclusion, I would call attention to the necessity of guarding carefully the flanks of a steam fleet, since a neglect of this precaution, even were it composed of vessels with heavy broadside batteries, could not but be disastrous; while in a fleet of monitors, or rams, or of any class of vessels whose weak points were abeam, it would, most probably, lead to utter ruin; for the tactics of such a fleet would correspond almost exactly with those of an army, one of whose wings being “doubled up” entails confusion and ofttimes defeat
the whole command.
In all the above diagrams I have supposed A and B to have reached the place of combat, and, therefore, with their forces deployed in readiness to engage.
Before reaching the place of combat, however, the fleet should steam either in echelon of divisions, with each division formed into double echelon, from the centre, or into echelon of vessels from the right and left, or else in columns of divisions, with each division formed in double column on the centre; and a good tactician would be careful not to form it into order of battle until the time had come to engage, so that the enemy might be kept, up to the last moment, in ignorance of his designs.
The naval officer will, therefore, do well in the future to make a close study of military tactics, and especially of Jomini's "Art of War;" and he cannot fail to derive both pleasure and instruction from a perusal of Prescott’s graphic description of the battle of Lepanto, where the Christian fleet, under Don Juan of Austria, broke forever the naval supremacy of the Turks.