Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/38
Southern Historical Society Papers.
"CONFEDERATE STATES STEAMER VIRGINIA,
" NORFOLK, March 7, 1862.
"My DEAR BROOKE:
."* * * The edges of our plates are only five inches below the water. * * *
"R.[Robert] D.[Dabney] MINOR."
As the vessel lightened, this submergence diminished. Five inches is little more than awash, and it was evident after the action that the guns of the enemy, having no command, could not penetrate the horizontal deck plating of the ends. It was, therefore, not necessary to submerge the ends, provided the sides were properly protected by plating. But as the weight of guns and shields increased, the efficiency of the principle of submerged ends became apparent.
The means at command in the Confederacy were not adequate to the complete development of the principle in sea-going ships. Plates of sufficient thickness to afford protection when placed vertically could not be made; but in 1874 it was applied in England.
The following description of the Inflexible is from Chief-Engineer J. W. King's War Ships and Navies of the World.
"The Inflexible, which was commenced at Portsmouth dock-yard in February, 1874, and launched April, 1876, is a twin-screw, double-turret ship, with a central armored citadel. She was designed by Mr. Barnaby, the Director of Naval Construction at the Admiralty, and at a meeting of the Institution of Naval Architects in London, he describes the vessel in the following language:
"Imagine a floating castle no feet long and 75 feet wide, rising 10 feet out of water, and having above that again two round turrets planted diagonally at its opposite corners. Imagine this castle and its turrets to be heavily plated with armor, and that each turret has two guns of about eighty tons each. Conceive these guns to be capable of firing, all four together, at an enemy ahead, astern, or on either beam, and in pairs toward every point of the compass. Attached to this rectangular armored castle, but completely submerged every part being 6 to 7 feet under water there is a hull of ordinary form with a powerful ram bow, with twin-screws and a submerged rudder and helm. This compound structure is the fighting part of the ship. Seaworthiness, speed, and shapeliness would be wanting in