Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/25

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19
The Real Projector of the Virginia.

"I feel sorry to have to reply to this report, inasmuch as it is published over the signature of the Secretary; and my friends will not fail to see the embarrassing position it places me in, in consequence of my relations with the Navy Department, and furthermore my intercourse with the Secretary since I have held my present position in the Southern Confederacy has been of the most friendly kind; but justice to myself requires that I should reply to it.

"The report commences by stating that on the 10th of June Lieutenant Brooke was directed to aid the Department in designing an iron-clad war vessel and framing the necessary specifications, and in a few days submitted to the Department rough drawings of a casemated vessel with submerged ends and inclined iron-plated sides, the ends of the vessel and the eaves of the casemates to be submerged two feet. I do not doubt the statements of the Secretary, but no such plans were submitted to the board; and from the fact that the master-carpenter had returned to this yard without completing any plan as the vessel shows, and myself being sent for immediately, and from the further fact that the Secretary presented us no plans from this source, I stated in my last communication that Lieutenant Brooke failed to produce anything after a week's trial; and I am still of that opinion, so far as anything tangible is concerned.

"The report states that the practical mechanic who was brought up from Norfolk was unable to make the drawings for Lieutenant Brooke, and the Department then ordered Chief-Engineer Williamson and Constructor Porter from the navy-yard at Norfolk to Richmond, about the 23d of June, for consultation on the same subject generally, and to aid in the work. I do not understand this part of the report exactly; but if it is intended to convey the idea that we were to examine any plan of Lieutenant Brooke's, I never so understood it, neither did we act in accordance with any such idea, as our report will show.

"The report next refers to my model, which I carried up with me, the shield and plan of which is carried out on the Virginia; but the report seems to have lost sight of the fact that the eaves and ends of my model were submerged two feet precisely like the present Virginia.

"The ship was cut down on a straight line fore and aft, to suit this arrangement, and the shield was extended over her just as far as the space inside to work the guns would admit of. Where the shield stopped, a strong deck was put in to finish out the ends and plated