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times as often, will, for the time being at least, be sixteen times as effective. . . . I have also watched diminutive and juvenile Igorrote savages shoot dimes from a forked stick at sixty feet with bow and arrow. The Igorrotes show us the beginning of offensive skill; modern American battle-ship targetpractice shows us the highest speed, accuracy, and distance yet attained, and we may not doubt that our present achievement is but a step in man's ultimate achievement.
A requirement which will be far-reaching in its importance in advancing the Navy even beyond the state referred to by Mr. Emerson, was added winter before last by the Secretary of the Navy for succeeding battle practices. Thereafter the
chusetts, on August 15, 1911, in the presence of the whole Atlantic fleet, to be held by her for the year ending June 30, 1912. The pennant, red in color, with a black ball in the center, was hoisted to the foretop on that date. It had been made by the U. S. S. Maryland of the Pacific fleet, which recognized the marked efficiency of her successful competitor, and at her own expense sent an cnlisted man across the continent to deliver this silk battle efficiency pennant to the Michigan. The magnificent performance of the Michigan was graciously recognized by President Taft in the following letter to her captain, now a rear-admiral:
From photograph by Herbert.
final battle efficiency was to mean both gunnery and engineering efficiency, and the ability of the vessel's crew to keep up their own repairs. Thus the efficiency of the ship in its entirety becomes of first importance to every member of its company, from the captain down to the coal-passer and the mess-boy handling ammunition in the magazine; and even greater results may be looked for than those already accomplished. The pennant which was then offered to the most efficient vessel, in addition to the trophy which goes to the individual, was for the first time won by the Michigan, a splendid ship and our first dreadnought. This highest honor in the Navy that can be won by a ship, the battle efficiency pennant, which now flies from the Michigan's foretop, was, for her success, awarded to her at Provincetown, Massa
The White House, Washington, D. C., August 9, 1911.
My Dear Captain: As the (V. S. S. Michigan under your command, in competition with all the other battle-ships of the Navy, has obtained the highest combined final merit in gunnery and engineering for the year ending June 30, 1911, and has been awarded the battle efficiency pennant, I take great pleasure, as the commander-in-chief of the Navy, in announcing this award to you; and I wish to commend you and the officers and men of the U. S. S. J/ichigan for the zealous and efficient handling of all the elements, the proper coördination of which has made the A/ichigan, with the material placed at her disposal, the most efficient battle-ship of the Navy in guarding the country's interests.
I have directed my naval aide, Lieutenant-Commander Palmer, director of target-practice and engineering competitions, to deliver this letter to you in person.
Captain N. R. Usher, U. S. N., commanding C. S. S. A/ichigan, Provincetown, Mass.
With a wonderful burst of golden song, she welcomed me from the top of the summer-house, that first morning at Sachem; and all through my busy day of making the house homey before the boys arrived, I was conscious of that glorious accompaniment. Often I stopped to listen, that I might not lose a note of the music she gave to me so generously. Sometimes she would sing from the veranda rail, sending her trills in through the open window like the delicate notes of some rare instrument; sometimes she preferred a top branch of the scrub cedar, pouring out her song in bursts of clearest melody that seemed to cease only when it reached the vast blue dome above; and when at sunset I came out onto the rocks to rest, she perched sociably near and sang to me her bird-song of the sea. The next day was Fourth of July.
THE boys came bringing fireworks and full of excited plans for celebrating the wonderful day. The song-sparrow hopped curiously about as targets were fastened in between the rocks and holders for the huge crackers were set up. The cottage itself was built upon the rocks, that extended some distance out into the water on three sides. The other side was green lawn to the white, sandy road. Chicory, wild rose, and bay bush grew wherever there was a bit of sod on which to root. Fourth of July morning broke perfectly. A soft south wind came in on the new tide from Long Island shore. The boys were up and saluted the sun as he peeped up over the rim of the sea behind Falkner's. Then pandemonium reigned. So great was the noise and confusion the big cannon crackers made, they seemed to fairly shake the rocks. Suddenly I was conscious, above it all, of the pure, sweet notes of the songsparrow. She must have been singing for some time before I noticed her. Stepping out onto the veranda, there she was, not safely perched on the summer-house, but right in the midst of the noise. “Mother, watch this little bird.” Jack called
when he saw me. “She just sings at every explosion. She does n’t seem afraid at all.” As Jack spoke, he touched off a big cracker, running a safe distance from it as it exploded. The song-sparrow perched on a rock only a short distance away. When the deafening explosion came, she simply flew to another rock, then burst into volumes of wonderful song. “She does that every time, Mother,” Jack informed me. “Look now, when we fire the gun at the target.” I looked, filled with deep concern, as the sharp cracks of the cartridges cut the air all about her; but not once did she show actual fear. Only, after every explosion, she sang her splendid song. All the morning the firing went on, until the rocks looked as if a battle had been fought upon them. Still never once did the little brown bird cease to sing, neither did she leave the rocks, as far as I could see, to seek the least refreshment. After lunch the boys went over to the clubhouse, and the place was quiet again. Curious to learn, if possible, what had held the bird so persistently to those rocks, I began searching cracks and crevices. For a while I found nothing, and the song-sparrow herself, flying from rock to rock, only misled me. But finally a bunch of chicory, growing on a ledge of earth that formed a bit of bank beneath it, attracted my attention. And there, in a tiny nest, fastened se– curely to the clay, I discovered five gray babies. My eyes suddenly grew dim as I realized that they had been there all during the terrific firing above them, comforted only by the burst of mo– ther song, the bravest song that ever left a bird's throat. Dozens of times she had risked her little life, and had borne the fright of the noise, that she might be near to tell her babies not to be afraid. For as long as the mother bird sang her brave, beautiful song, they knew all was well. With swelling heart I looked out over the Sachem Sea. Surely no soldier on the Gettysburg field stood more bravely for a his country, nor did so Joan of Arc ride more fearlessly before the armies of the French, than did the song-sparrow of Sachem sing to her little family that Fourth of July day.