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Page 16

The Tactics of a Naval Battle

 

    Imagination can now picture a Greek naval battle, fifty, a hundred, two hundred, or more of these splendid battleships flying in two hostile lines to the charge.[19] Round and round they will sail, each pilot watching the moment when an unlucky maneuver by the foe will leave a chance for an attack; and then will come the sudden swinging of the helm, the frantic "Pull hard!" to the oarsmen, the rending crash and shock as the ram tears open the opponents side, to be followed by almost instant tragedy. If the direct attack on the foe's broadside fails, there is another maneuver. Run down upon your enemy as if striking bow to bow; the instant before contact let your aim swerve—a little. Then call to your men to draw in their oars like lightning while the enemy are still working theirs. If your oarsmen can do the trick in time, you can now ride down the whole of the foemen's exposed oar bank, while saving your own. He is left crippled and helpless, like a huge centipede with all the legs on one side stripped away. You can now back off deliberately, run out your oars, an in cold blood charge his exposed flank. If he does not now surrender, his people are dead men. Excellent to describe! Not always so excellent in performance. Everything depends on the perfect discipline and handiness of your crew.

 

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