By James Harmon Ward, Sir Howard Douglas
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This great speed suited its purpose of being deployed on foreign missions. The United States, although it built the first purpose-built cruiser, was also not a factor in this decade of development. This was in large part the result of problems arising from the Civil War. The soaring national debt that the war had produced meant that few additional ships could be constructed in the years following the conflict, with the exception of those that were already being built. Generally, the great human toll of the conflict also led to a lack of public enthusiasm for new military spending.
The general lack of construction of large cruisers by navies other than Great Britain did not hold true for innovations in the designs of smaller cruising vessels. The introduction of the self-propelled torpedo in 1868 heralded a wave of experimentation with smaller cruisers that mounted it as their principle armament. This weapon especially found favor in nations with limited means to build a large fleet of battleships. The torpedo held the potential of destroying the most powerful and costly naval units of an enemy through the use of relatively cheap warships.
This operation was designed to deny the South any overseas supply in war material. The effectiveness of this endeavor is still debated by historians, but the contemporary naval officers of the day did take note of the use of Union cruisers in this duty. Throughout the war, Union steamships cruised off the Confederate coast and were able to run down and capture many neutral and Confederate blockade runners bound for the South. These same officials also observed the great successes of Confederate steam-powered frigates in commerce raids on the Union merchant fleet.
A manual of naval tactics: together with a brief critical analysis of the principal modern naval battles by James Harmon Ward, Sir Howard Douglas