Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/31

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The Real Projector of the Virginia.

gallant defenders of Charleston, and an accomplished artillerist, requesting him to ascertain the date of publication. He replied as follows:

"TEN-MILE MILL, S. C, August 10, 1887.

"I find that all the files of the Charleston Mercury are in the Charleston library, and not one paper missing. There is a great deal said about the Virginia and her fights, and I find the letter you refer to was published in the Mercury dated March 19th, 1862, no date given to the writing of the same. You have an exact copy, as quoted to me in your letter of August 3d. * * *

" Yours truly,


The order of date of publication of the three extracts from Mr. Porter's letters is reversed in Scharf's history. My note-book, kept at that time, contains, under date of March 20th, 1862, this remark:

"Several papers have published articles from the Norfolk Day-Book, giving the credit of the plan of the Merrimac to John L. Porter."

The extraordinary character of this extract fixed it in my memory as the first in which Mr. Porter was brought before the public. It attracted attention, and the statement of "Justice" appeared.

Mr. J.W.H. Porter's "Correct Version of the Converting of the Merrimac into an Iron clad" is, in the main, a repetition of what was published in 1862, with some variations and additions. Mr. J.W.H. Porter says:

"Lieutenant John M. Brooke, of the navy, was considering the question of an iron-clad. He was in a position where he could command the ear of Secretary Mallory, of the Confederate Navy, and at his request Mr. Joseph Pierce, then master ship-carpenter at the navy-yard here and a skilled mechanic, was sent to the Capital to assist him, but nothing came of the conference, and he reported that Lieutenant Brooke had no matured plan; that he had no practical ideas, and did not know what he wanted. Seeing the failure of Lieutenant Brooke's scheme, Constructor Porter then had another model made like the one he made at Pittsburg in 1847." [Italics mine.]