Mr. Stevens to Mr. Evarts.
Stockholm, April 12, 1878. (Received May 4.)
Sir: Perhaps it is but proper respect due to this government that I should report to the Department of State a brief account of a visit made by me yesterday to the quarters of the naval recruits in Stockholm.
The day previous Admiral Lagercrantz informed me that these recruits, who had been drilling the past seven months, would be reviewed by the King, and asked me to be present. Immediately after, while I was walking through one of the principal squares of the city, the King-recognized me and renewed verbally in person the request which the admiral had made to me. I was promptly at the naval quarters at the specified hour. The exercises took place in a large building, divided into two spacious rooms or halls, which are fitted up with the necessary agencies and apparatus for training the men in all the varied exercises which the present methods of naval armament and naval warfare call into use. All parts of the ship, rigging, outfit, and arms are illustrated.
In one of these large halls took place the various gymnastic and military exercises, as well as the handling of the spars, ropes, sails, and other mechanical fixtures of the ship. In another room, directly accessible from the first, was the exact counterpart of the upper deck of a man-of-war, with heavy guns, breech and muzzle loaders, rifle and smooth-bore, with the necessary machinery and fixtures for working them. It was interesting to witness the astonishing precision and rapidity with which these young men, who had been in training but seven months, went through their exercises. Though the minister of the naval department was present, the King himself took the lead in the rigid and thorough examination during nearly three hours, while these recruits went through their varied exercises without repetition.
It will be remembered that the present King Oscar was trained in the Swedish navy, and served for years as a naval officer, while his father and brother were on the throne. These naval recruits are taken from the coast districts, are kept in service one year, and are then sent to their homes. They are liable to be called on for national defense at the command of the government any time during twenty years from the date of the commencement of their naval training. Enough are drilled in this way annually so that there shall be constantly on the naval lists 6,000 able-bodied seamen who have had this one year’s training.
The next five months the young men reviewed yesterday will spend in active service on shipboard in the Baltic and North seas.
There were present at this review yesterday the ministers of England, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, and Denmark.
The two noticeable and chiefly important facts which I would bring out in this brief communication are the special personal attention which the King devotes to the practical details of government, and the superior character of these naval soldiers, whom Sweden has at its call without imposing a very heavy annual outlay.[Page 823]
To-day the King left Stockholm for a two weeks’ visit at Heidelberg, Germany, where the Qneen has been residing for a year or more for special medical treatment. Her health is understood to be improving.
I have, & c.,