“’The loss of nearly 60 officers and 1400 men would not have been grudged if it had been brought about by gunfire in an open action, but it is peculiarly distressing under the conditions which prevailed.’ While praising the courage and discipline of crews, the Admiralty lamented ‘the absence of any of the ardor and excitement of an engagement.’”
Well, yes, of course. Officers and men did not see the weapon which destroyed their ships and took their lives. Going broadside to broadside would be in keeping with naval traditions, concomitant with grapeshot, solid shot and massive wooden splinters piercing human flesh.
Modern war, then, taught sailors the lesson known by many a dirt dog soldier – Death can take you at any time and at any place, at any range.