possessing some extraordinary and valuable features, tending to the development of certain principles, then being studied, for our coast and river blockade, involving a revolution in naval warfare.
The twenty-five days for receiving proposals had, I think, expired; but I was so interested in this novel proposition that I directed Mr. Bushnell
to proceed immediately to Washington
, and submit the model to the Board for examination and report.
But, deeming the subject of great importance, and fearing the Board would be restrained by the limit of twenty-five days, I immediately followed, and arrived in Washington
almost as soon as Mr. Bushnell
with the model.
Seventeen plans for armored vessels were submitted, and propositions made, by different parties, for their construction.
Three of them received a favorable report, among them Ericsson
's turret vessel, with guns of immense calibre, which, when built, was called, by his request, the “Monitor.”
A contract for this vessel was made and signed on the fourth of October, 1861.
It was stipulated that she should be complete in all her parts and appurtenances; should have a speed of eight knots per hour, with security or successful working of the turret and guns, with safety to the vessel and the men in the turrets, and “that said vessel and equipments, in all respects, shall be completed and ready for sea in one hundred days from the date of this indenture.”
It was agreed by the Navy Department, that the Government
should pay therefor $275,000, in payments of $50,000, with the usual reservation of 25 per cent. as the work progressed, and that the final payment should be made after tests, satisfactory to the Navy Department, but which tests should be within ninety days after she was turned over to the Government
Unfortunately for the design of the Navy Department, and, perhaps, for the country, there was delay on the part of the contractors.
Instead of completing and delivering the vessel as stipulated, in one hundred days, which would have been in January, she was not turned over to the Government
until the third of March-forty days later than was agreed upon and expected.
This delay of forty days defeated an arrangement which the Navy Department originally designed, if successful, should be a satisfactory test of the capabilities of this extraordinary vessel.
That test may now be stated.
The steamship “Merrimac
,” a naval vessel, which the rebels scuttled and sunk the day previous to the abandonment of the Navy Yard
, they subsequently raised and took into the dry-dock, where she was being repaired and clothed with iron armor, when the contract for the “Monitor” was made.
We, of course, felt great