He came to me in great* discouragement, and expressed, in vivid terms, his certainty of success, and of revolutionizing future naval warfare, as well as the construction of war vessels.
I approved of Captain Hamilton
's design, and, having secured the necessary means, instructed him to finish his battery at the earliest moment practicable.
This being accomplished before the attack on Fort Sumter
opened, early in April I placed the floating battery in position at the western extremity of Sullivan's Island
to enfilade certain barbette guns of the fort which could not be reached effectively by our land batteries.
It, therefore, played an important part in that brief drama of thirty-three hours, receiving many shots without any serious injury.
About one year later, in Hampton roads
, the “Merrimac
,” plated and roofed with two layers of railroad iron
, met the “Monitor” in a momentous encounter, which first attracted the attention of the civilized world to the important change that iron-plating or “armors” would thenceforth create in naval architecture and armaments.
The one and a half to two inch plating used on Captain Hamilton
's floating battery has already grown to about twelve inches thickness of steel plates of the best quality, put together with the utmost care, in the effort to resist the heaviest rifle-shots now used.
About the same time that Captain Hamilton
was constructing his floating battery, Mr. C. I. Steven
, of Charleston
(who, afterward, died a brigadier general at the battle of Chickamauga
), commenced building an iron-clad land battery at Cumming's Point
, the northern extremity of Morris Island
, and the point nearest to Fort Sumter
--that is, about thirteen hundred yards distant. This battery was to be built of heavy timbers covered with one layer of railroad iron
, the rails well fitted into each other, presenting an inclined, smooth surface of about thirty-five degrees to the fire of Sumter
; the surface was to be well greased, and the guns were to fire through small embrasures supplied with strong iron shutters.
I approved also of the plan, making such suggestions as my experience as an engineer warranted.
This battery took an active part in the attack, and was struck several times; but, excepting the jamming and disabling one of the shutters, the battery remained uninjured to the end of the fight.
From Cumming's Point
also, and in the same attack, was used the first rifled cannon fired in America
The day before I received orders from the Confederate Government, at Montgomery
, to demand the evacuation or surrender of Fort Sumter
, a vessel from England
arriving in the outer harbor, signaled that she had something important for the Governor
of the State
I sent out a harbor boat,