Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/22

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

was directed to aid the Department in designing an iron clad war vessel and framing the necessary specifications. He entered upon this duty at once, and a few days thereafter submitted to the Department, as the result of his investigations, rough drawings of a casemated vessel, with submerged ends and inclined iron-plated sides. The ends of the vessel, and the eaves of the casemate, according to his plan, were to be submerged two feet; and a light bulwark, or false bow, was designed to divide the water and prevent it from banking up on the forward part of the shield with the vessel in motion, and also to serve as a tank to regulate the ship's draft. His design was approved by the department, and a practical mechanic was brought from Norfolk to aid in preparing the drawings and specifications. This mechanic aided in the statement of details of timber, etc., but was unable to make the drawings, 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. Constructor Porter brought and submitted the model of a flat-bottomed, light-draft propeller casemated battery, with inclined iron-covered sides and ends, which is deposited in the Department. Mr. Porter and Lieutenant Brooke have adopted for their casemate a thickness of wood and iron, and an angle of inclination nearly identical. Mr. Williamson and Mr. Porter approved of the plan of having submerged ends to obtain the requisite flotation and invulnerability, and the Department adopted the design, and a clean drawing was prepared by Mr. Porter of Lieutenant Brooke's plan, which that officer then filed with the Department. The steam frigate Merrimac had been burned and sunk, and her engine greatly damaged by the enemy, and the Department directed Mr. Williamson, Lieutenant Brooke, and Mr. Porter to consider and report upon the best mode of making her useful. The result of their investigations was their recommendation of the submerged ends and the inclined casemates for this vessel, which was adopted by the Department.

"The following is the report upon the Merrimac:

"'In obedience to your orders we have carefully examined and considered the various plans and propositions for constructing a shot-proof steam battery, and respectfully report that, in our opinion, the steam frigate Merrimac, which is in such condition from the effects of fire as to be useless for any other purpose without incurring a very heavy expense in rebuilding, etc., can be made an efficient vessel of