1866 · New York
Craven was charged with having failed to engage the Confederate Ironclad 'Stonewall' off the coast of Spain in March 1865. His explanation, that his wooden vessel [the Niagara] would have been destroyed had he done so, did not please his superiors. "I was obliged to undergo the deep humiliation of knowing that she (the Stonewall) was there -- steaming back and forth -- flaunting her flags and waiting for me to go out to the attack. I dared not do it! The condition of the sea was such that it would have been perfect madness for me to go out. We could not possibly have inflicted the slightest injury upon her, and should have exposed ourselves to almost instant destruction." The Court-- whose members included Admirals Farragut, Paulding, and Dahlgren-- ruled that Craven had exercised "defective judgment" and a "want of zeal" in declining battle. After review by Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, Craven was suspended from duty for two years "on leave-pay."
The Preface, signed by Alfred Craven, criticizes the "novel" verdict.
Sabin 17430. (Inventory #: 32554)