Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/10

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

book is not always accessible, and such versions of occurrences of the war as this of Mr. Porter sometimes find their way into crude histories of the day, I deem it proper to present the subject from another point of view, with evidence.

Early in June, 1861, Mr. Mallory, Secretary of the Confederate States Navy, asked me to design an iron-clad.

The first idea presenting itself was a shield of timber two feet thick, plated with three inches of iron, inclined to the horizontal plane at the least angle that would permit working the guns. This shield to be supported by a hull of equal length. But it was apparent, on inspection, that to support the massive shield the ends of the vessel would be so full and bluff as to prevent the attainment of speed. It then occurred to me that fineness of line, buoyancy, and protection of hull could be obtained by extending the ends of the vessel under water beyond the shield. To prevent the banking up of water on these submerged ends I erected upon them a superstructure of ship-iron, corresponding in form with the hull below, but not higher than would permit the free use of bow and stern guns; these superstructures to be decked.

Of this design I submitted outline drawings—body, sheer, and deck-plans to—Mr. Mallory, who approved and adopted them. I then asked that Chief Engineer Williamson and Constructor Porter should be sent for from the Norfolk navy-yard to put the plan in execution. This the Secretary declined doing, but ordered a practical mechanic to be sent up from the Norfolk yard. The mechanic came, aided in the statement of timber, etc., but was unable to make the working drawings, and was permitted to return to the yard. Constructor Porter and Chief Engineer Williamson were then ordered to report. They came, and we met in consultation with the Secretary. Mr. Porter brought and presented for consideration a model of an iron-clad of the same form as that which I had rejected for reasons above stated. When we had examined the model, the Secretary said he wished to show Messrs. Porter and Williamson a plan proposed by Lieutenant Brooke. The plan was then placed before them, and the reasons for extending the ends of the hull beyond the shield and under water were stated, and they approved the plan. It had been, as stated above, previously adopted by the Department.

Mr. Mallory then directed Messrs. Williamson and Porter to ascertain if suitable engines and boilers could be had. To me he said: "Make a clean drawing in ink of your plan, to be filed in the department." As I placed the paper on the table and was about to begin,