Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/32

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Mr. Porter is mistaken as to the ship-carpenter. Mr. Joseph Pearce (Mr. Porter spells it Pierce) was a constructor competent to perform the work, but whose services were not available at that time. Mr. J. W. H. Porter's loquacious ship-carpenter had been warned not to give information to any one as to the plan which had been adopted. On reporting to Constructor Porter he probably thought that he fulfilled his instructions in using the language attributed to him by Mr. Porter. He gave no information as to the extension of the submerged ends of the ship beyond the shield to obtain speed, buoyancy and invulnerability, the only novel feature of the plan the peculiar and distinctive feature of the Virginia.

His position was a trying one, and fully accounts for the extraordinary statements he is said to have made. Naturally, Constructor Porter was much surprised when, on presenting his model, the approved plan was laid before him.

I have every reason to believe the statement, now made for the first time, that "seeing," as he thought, "the failure of Lieutenant Brooke's scheme, Constructor John L.[Luke] Porter then had a model made, took it to Richmond personally, and submitted it to Secretary Mallory."

As to its being like the one he made at Pittsburg in 1847, I can but say that the only reference to that model I have seen is in Constructor Porter's note of his relations to the conversion of the Merrimac into an iron-clad, in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.

Mr. Porter says :

"After she had fought her fight and proved her metal, then for the first time, to the knowledge of anybody, Lieutenant Brooke put in an appearance as a claimant for the credit of having projected her, and a communication appeared in the Richmond Examiner claiming it for him."

I made no claim, nor did I ask any one to make it for me. No notice was taken of Mr. Porter's publications by the Secretary or myself. I may here recall the fact before mentioned, that in Scharf's History of the Confederate States Navy, the true order of date of these publications has been reversed. Of the three the last is put first, and the first last.

Mr. J. W. H. Porter continues:

"And later still, when the real facts of the matter had faded