The "Pawnee" Panic
Rev. John E Edwards
Fear, Imagination, Psychology, War, Steamships, Military Technology
Explains that a 'first-class panic is invariably marked by [...] unlimited credulity, extravagant exaggeration, and the loss of self-possession', and when 'Nothing is seen in the pure "dry light" of unclouded reason [...] [h]ideous phantoms are conjured up, that stalk like giant skeletons through the misty twilight, and the excited imagination clothes them in the drapery that vagrant fancy weaves in her magic loom' (403). Goes on to describe an event from the early part of the American Civil War, 'before the wonderful achievements of naval architecture had marked a new era' with the 'triple-turreted, iron-clad, steel-plated, heavy-metal, long-range-mounted Monitors of a later day' (404), when the 'notorious' but otherwise unremarkable 'little steamboat' the uss Pawnee created panic among the inhabitants of Richmond, capital of the Confederate states, after the 'dreaded boat, supposed to have infernal machines and enginery of death on board, was reported to be nearing the city' (404–05).
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