Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/14
Southern Historical Society Papers.
send me to Richmond, where a 'spell' of a few weeks will put me on my pins again. Make my kind regards to Mrs. Brooke; and with the hope that you are in better health,
"R. (Robert] D.[Dabney] Minor.
"Remember me to Volcke, to McCorkle, and Upshur. The Commodore had the signal ' Sink before Surrender' arranged before the action. Tell this to Mallory, for I hardly think that old Buch. will ever do so.
N.B.—There will doubtless be an attempt made to transfer the great credit of planning the Virginia to other hands than your own. So look out for them, for to you it belongs, and the Secretary should say so in communicating his report of the victory to Congress.
"By no means must any captain or commodore or even flag-officer be put over [Catesby ap R.] Jones. In old Buch.'s sickness from his wound Jones must command the ship."
In justice to Constructor Porter, and in order that his claim and the grounds upon which it is based may be fully set forth, his published letters, with their true dates of publication, are now presented, with such other matter, arranged in order of sequence, as may be necessary to the preservation of historical accuracy and the development of the process by which he arrived at the conclusion that he was "not only the constructor but the originator of the plan of the Virginia."
In the Charleston Mercury of March 19, 1862, the following extract from a private letter written by Constructor Porter was published:
"I received but little encouragement from any one while the Virginia was progressing. Hundreds, I may say thousands, asserted she would never float. Some said she would turn bottom side up; others said the crew would suffocate; and the most wise said theconcussion and report from the guns would deafen the men. Some said she would not steer; and public opinion generally about here said she would never come out of the dock. You have no idea what I have suffered in mind since I commenced her, but I knew what I was about, and I persevered. Some of her inboard arrangements are of the most intricate character, and have caused me many sleepless nights in making them, but all have turned out right, and thanks