Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/27

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The Real Projector of the Virginia.

ends down low enough to build tanks on to regulate the draft of the vessel, she would have been cut much lower than my plan required; for all the water which now covers her ends would not alter her draft over three inches if confined in tanks. All the calculations of the weights and displacements, and the line to cut the ship down, were determined by myself, as well as her whole arrangements.

"That Lieutenant Brooke may have been of great assistance to the Department in trying the necessary experiments to determine the thickness of the iron, getting up the battery, and attending to the shipment of the iron, etc., I do not doubt; but to claim for him the credit of designing the ship is a matter of too much interest to me to give up.

"Engineer Williamson discharged his duties with great success; the engines performed beyond his most sanguine expectations, and these, with the improvements of the propeller, has increased her speed three miles an hour.

"The Confederacy is under many obligations to Secretary Mallory for having approved the report of this board in making the Merrimac a bomb proof ship. Her performance has changed the whole system of naval defences, so far as wooden ships are concerned.

"Europe, as well as America, will have to begin anew; and that nation which can produce iron-clad ships with the greatest rapidity will be the mistress of the seas.

"In this communication I disclaim any disrespect to the Secretary of the Navy whatever; he has not only been my friend, in this Government, but was a true and serviceable one under the United States Government, and has rendered me many acts of kindness, for which I have always esteemed him; but the present unpleasant controversy involves a matter of so much importance to me that I shall be excused for defending my claim not only as the constructor but the originator of the plan of the Virginia.

"Confederate States Navy Constructor."

"No such plans were submitted to the board."

"The Secretary presented us no plans from this source."

Mr. Porter may have supposed that the direction of the Secretary to consider and report upon the best mode of making the Merrimac useful was equivalent to appointing us members of a board, and as the plan had already been submitted, he could say that it had not