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which Dewey entered Manila Bay included ships laid down or launched under Secretaries Chandler, Whitney, Tracy, and Herbert; and all four of these Secretaries, their naval architects, the chiefs of bureaus, the young engineers and constructors, the outside contractors, the shipyard men like Roach, Cramp, and Scott, and, finally and emphatically, the Congressmen who during these fifteen years voted the supplies, are entitled to take a just pride in their share of the glory of the achievement. Every man in Congress whose vote made possible the building of the Olympia, the Baltimore, the Raleigh, or the putting aboard them and their sister ships the modern eight-inch or rapid-fire five-inch guns, or the giving them the best engines and the means wherewith to practice their crews at the targets—every such man has the right to tell his children that he did his part in securing Dewey's victory, and that, save for the action of him and his fellows, it could not have been won. This is no less true of the man who planned the ships and of the other men, whether in the government service or in private employment, who built them, from the head of the great business concern which put up an armor-plate factory down to the iron-worker who conscientiously and skilfully did his part on gun-shield or gun.
So much for the men who furnished the material and the means for assembling and practicing the personnel. The same praise must be given the men who actually drilled the personnel, part of which Dewey used. If our ships had merely been built and then laid up, if officers and crews had not been exercised season after season in all weathers on the high seas in handling their ships both separately and in squadron, and in practicing with the guns, all the excellent material would have availed us little. Exactly as it is of no use to give an army the best arms and equipment if it is not also given the chance to practice with its arms and equipment, so the finest ships and the best natural sailors and fighters are useless to a navy if the most ample opportunity for training is not allowed. Only incessant practice will make a good gunner; though, inasmuch as there are natural marksmen as well as men who never can become good marksmen, there should always be the widest intelligence displayed in the choice of gunners. Not only is it impossible for a man to learn how to handle a ship or do his duty aboard her save by long cruises at sea, but it is also impossible for a good single-ship captain to be an efficient unit in a fleet unless he is accustomed to manoeuvre as part of a fleet.
It is particularly true of the naval service that the excellence of any portion of it in a given crisis will depend mainly upon the excellence of the whole body, and so the triumph of any part is legitimately felt to reflect honor upon the whole and to have been participated in by every one. Dewey's captains could not have followed him with the precision they displayed, could not have shown the excellent gun practice they did show-in short, the victory would not have been possible had it not been for the unwearied training and practice given the navy during the dozen years previous by the admirals, the captains, and the crews who incessantly and in all weathers kept their vessels exercised, singly and in squadron, until the men on the bridge, the men in the gun-turrets, and the men in the engine-rooms knew how to do their work perfectly, alone or together. Every officer and man, from the highest to the lowest, who did his full duty in raising the navy to the standard of efficiency it had reached on May 1, 1898, is entitled to feel some personal share in the glory won by Dewey and Dewey's men. It would have been absolutely impossible not merely to improvise either the material or the personnel with which Dewey fought, but to have produced them in any limited number of years. A thoroughly good navy takes a long time to build up, and the best officer embodies always the traditions of a firstclass service. Ships take years to build, crews take years before they become thoroughly expert, while the officers not only have to pass their early youth in a course of special training, but can not possibly rise
to supreme excellence in their profession unless they make it their life-work.
We should therefore keep in mind that the hero can not win save for the forethought, energy, courage, and capacity of countless other men. Yet we must keep in mind also that all this forethought, energy, courage, and capacity will be wasted unless at the supreme moment some man of the heroic type arises capable of using to the best advantage the powers lying ready to hand. Whether it is Nelson, the greatest of all admirals, at Aboukir, Copenhagen, or Trafalgar; or Farragut, second only to Nelson, at New Orleans or Mobile; or Dewey at Manilathe great occasion must meet with the great man, or the result will be at worst a failure, at best an indecisive success. The nation must make ready the tools and train the men to use them, but at the crisis a great triumph can be achieved only should some heroic man appear. Therefore it is right and seemly to pay homage of deep respect and admiration to the man when he does appear.
Admiral Dewey performed one of the great feats of all time. At the very outset of the Spanish War he struck one of the two decisive blows which brought the war to a conclusion, and as his was the first fight, his success exercised an incalculable effect upon the whole conflict. He set the note of the war. He had carefully prepared for action during the months he was on the Asiatic coast. He had his plans thoroughly matured, and he struck the instant that war was declared. There was no delay, no hesitation. As soon as news came that he was to move, his war-steamers turned their bows toward Manila Bay. There was nothing to show whether or not Spanish mines and forts would be efficient; but Dewey, cautious as he was at the right time, had not a particle of fear of taking risks when the need arose. In the tropic night he steamed past the forts, and then on over the mines to where the Spanish vessels lay. What material inferiority there was on the Spanish side was nearly made up by the forts and mines. The overwhelming difference was moral, not material. It was the difference in the two commanders, in the officers and crews of the two fleets, and in the naval service, afloat and ashore, of the two nations. On the one side there had been thorough preparation; on the other, none that was adequate. It would be idle to recapitulate the results. Steaming in with cool steadiness, Dewey's fleet cut the Spaniards to pieces, while the Americans were practically unhurt. Then Dewey drew off to breakfast, satisfied himself that he had enough ammunition, and returned to stamp out what embers of resistance were still feebly smouldering.