Americans made the mistake, moreover, of continuing to build wooden sailing vessels after the era of steam and iron had arrived. In the decade between 1850 and 1860 the proportion of ocean freight carried by steam had risen from 14 per cent. to 28 per cent. So far as we then knew, we had no great deposits of iron and coal. and we believed England had the advantage. Had it not been for the Civil War, we should perhaps have adjusted ourselves to changed conditions; but the Alabama and other Southern cruisers virtually drove our flag from the sea.