Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/20

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14
Southern Historical Society Papers.

"I never thought for a moment that, after the many difficulties I had to encounter in making these new and intricate arrangements for the working of this novel kind of ship that any one would attempt to rob me of my just merits; for, if there was any other man than myself who had any responsibility about her success or failure I never knew it, only so far as the working of the machinery was concerned, for which Engineer Williamson was alone responsible.

"I hope these plain statements of facts will satisfy the people of this government as to who is entitled to the plan of the Virginia.

" JOHN L. PORTER,
"C S. N. Constructor"


On the 3d of April, I wrote a private letter to Mr. Porter which, so far as I know, has never been published.

[Copy.]


"RICHMOND, April 3, 1862.

"DEAR SIR:

I have observed, with surprise and regret, certain articles in the newspapers relating to the Virginia and the origin of the plan upon which she is constructed. I shall leave to those qualified to judge the question of whose plan was adopted; for the facts are accessible. But meanwhile I beg leave to call your attention to one remark of your published letter, which is rather obscure. You say:

"'After the Merrimac was in progress some time, Lieutenant Brooke was constantly proposing alterations in her to the Secretary of the Navy, and as constantly and firmly opposed by myself, which the Secretary knows.'

"This paragraph conveys the impression that I proposed alterations which were opposed and rejected. As the alterations alluded to affect very materially the efficiency of the ship, I propose to mention them now.

"The first alteration proposed by me was the substitution of one plate of two-inch iron for two of one-inch; the removal of the ceiling or inner planking of the shield, and the application of four inches of oak outside under the iron, leaving the wood of the shield of the same aggregate thickness; and this alteration was made. I subsequently recommended the substitution of two-inch plates.

"The third proposition made by me was to pierce the shield for bow and quarter ports, for you had omitted them, leaving four points of