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

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The Real Projector of the Virginia.

and engineer, Messrs. Porter and Williamson. As time is of the first importance in the matter, you will see that the work progresses without delay to completion [italics Porter's].

"'Secretary Confederate States Navy.'

"Lieutenant Brooke is not even hinted at in this letter. After the ship had been in progress for six weeks the Secretary wrote the following letter to Flag-officer Forrest on the subject:


"'RICHMOND, August 19, 1861.

"'Flag-officer FRENCH FORREST,
"'Commanding Navy Yard, Gosport, Va.

"'SIR: The great importance of the service expected from the Merrimac, and the urgent necessity of her speedy completion, induce me to call upon you to push forward the work with the utmost dispatch. Chief Engineer Williamson and Constructor Porter, severally in charge of the two branches of this great work and for which they will be held specially responsible, will receive, therefore, every possible facility at the expense and delay of every other work on hand, if necessary.

"'(Signed) S. R. MALLORY,
'"Secretary Confederate States Navy.'

"Of the great and skillful calculations of the displacements and weights of timber and iron involved in the planning and construction of this great piece of naval architecture, and of her present weights with everything on board, no other man than myself has, or ever had, any knowledge. If he has let him show it; for, while public opinion said she would never float, none, save myself, knew to the contrary, or what she was capable of bearing.
"After the Merrimac was in progress for 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. To Engineer Williamson, who had the exclusive control of the machinery, great credit is due for having so improved the propeller and engines as to improve the speed of the ship three knots per hour.