Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/28

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

been presented to the board. Yet Mr. Porter signed the report, stating that we had carefully considered various plans. There were but two plans presented—mine, illustrated by outline drawings; and Mr. Porter's, illustrated by his model.

"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."

Constructor Porter was at the Norfolk navy-yard, and could have no personal knowledge of what occurred in Richmond. His expressed opinion is based upon the fact that the master-carpenter had returned to the yard without completing any plan, "as the vessel shows, and himself being sent for immediately." The expression "as the vessel shows," meaning, like the Virginia, implies that the master-carpenter had in mind some plan not embracing her novel and characteristic feature. He was fully informed as to this feature and had been strictly enjoined not to divulge it.

Constructor Porter seems to have discovered, in this connection, the ambiguity of the unqualified phrase, "submerged ends of the vessel and eaves of the shield" when he presented his model; for he subsequently wrote: "How could I disapprove of my own model, which had submerged ends two feet?" And again: "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.

"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."

Neither Mr. Porter nor Mr. Williamson was sent for to examine Lieutenant Brooke's plan.

It had been approved by the Department but the Secretary preferred to send for some other person than Constructor Porter to put it in execution. The one who came from the Norfolk navy-yard was a subordinate in the Department of which Constructor Porter was the head.

"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 presentVirginia.