Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 4.djvu/241

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CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.

sary to have the co-operation of his boat, the brave Cooke's fighting spirit rose, and he promised to take his boat to Plymouth, finished or unfinished, and General Hoke left him with that assurance. On the day set by General Hoke, Commander Cooke, true to his promise, started down the river, finishing his work and drilling his men in gun practice as he went. Maffitt says: "At early dawn on the 18th, steam was up; ten portable forges, with numerous sledge hammers, were placed on board, and thus equipped the never-failing Cooke started. Naval history affords no such remarkable evidence of patriotic zeal and individual perseverance." [1]

This tribute to Cooke is a just one. No boat could have been built under more difficulties than was the Albemarle, as Cooke named his new venture, and its construction shows the difficulties under which the Confederates waged a long war. It was designed by Gilbert Elliott. The prow, which was used as a ram, was of oak sheathed with iron; its back was turtle-shaped and protected by 2-inch iron. Cooke had ransacked the whole country for iron, until, says Maffitt, he was known as the "Iron-monger captain." "The entire construction," continues Maffitt, "was one of shreds and patches; the engine was adapted from incongruous material, ingeniously dove tailed and put together with a determined will that mastered doubt, but not without some natural anxiety as to derangements that might occur from so heterogeneous a combination. The Albemarle was built in an open corn field, of unseasoned timber. A simple blacksmith shop aided the mechanical part of her construction."

Notwithstanding the difficulties of her construction, the vessel was, when finished, a formidable fighting machine. In the early hours of the 19th of April, she dropped down the river and passed the fort at Warren's neck, under a furious fire. The protection from the shield was so complete that the shot from the guns at Warren sounded to

  1. Reminiscences of Confederate Navy.