Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/17

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11
The Real Projector of the Virginia.

this yard for the master ship-carpenter to come up and assist him. After trying for a week he failed to produce anything, and the master-carpenter returned to his duties at the yard. Secretary Mallory then sent for me to come to Richmond, at which time I carried up the model of an iron-clad floating battery, with the shield of the present Virginia on it, and before I ever saw Lieutenant Brooke. This model may now be seen at the Navy Department.

"The Secretary then ordered a board, composed of Engineer Williamson, Lieutenant Brooke, and myself, to examine and report upon some plan for a floating iron-clad battery [consult Secretary's Report]. 'Justice,' in his communication to the Whig, says: 'After full consultation a plan proposed by Lieutenant John M. Brooke was adopted, and received the approval of the Secretary of the Navy; that it was found the plan of Lieutenant Brooke could easily be applied to the Merrimac, and, in fact, no other plan could have made the Merrimac an effective ship, and that a report was made to the Secretary of the Navy in accordance with these facts.'

"Now, I would only ask a careful reading of this report, and see how far it agrees with the statement of 'Justice.'

"Now, I would ask what becomes of the statement of 'Justice'? And I would also ask any one at all acquainted with the circumstances how Lieutenant Brooke could have had anything to do with this report further than signing his name to it. What did he know about the condition of the Merrimac or her engines, or whether there was enough of her left to make a floating battery out of or not; or anything about what it would cost, or anything else about her? For he had not even seen her, and knew nothing of her condition really.

"'NAVY DEPARTMENT, Richmond, June 25, 1861.

"'SIR:

"'In obedience to your order, we have carefully examined and considered the various plans and propositions for constructing a shot-proof steam battery, and respectfully report that, in our opinion, the steam frigate Merrimac, which is in such condition from the effects of fire as to be useless for any other purpose without incurring a very heavy expense in her rebuilding, can be made an efficient vessel of that character, mounting ten heavy guns two pivot and eight side guns of her original battery; and, from the further consideration that we cannot procure a suitable engine and boilers for any other vessel without building them, which would occupy too much time, it