presented a magnificent mark for the heavy ordnance of a floating and almost submerged “Monitor” battery to perforate.
Whatever patriotic or money-making motives may have actuated or influenced the contractors, they were but the agents or instruments of the Navy Department in developing certain principles relative to ordnance and armament-assault and resistance — which it had a purpose to accomplish.
's invention there was an advance made, an incipient step taken toward the great object which naval intelligence and naval experts were studying in the early days of our civil war. The inventive genius and skill of our countrymen made rapid and great proficiency in the work before them.
Their improved ordnance and their turret vessels compelled a change in naval tactics, and wrought such a revolution in naval operations as has added greatly to the security of our coast defences, and probably put an end to ocean conflicts between immense squadrons like those of Trafalgar
and the Nile
No large fleet of armored steamers will cross the sea to attack us, and a single “Monitor,” with its fifteen-inch guns, would make havoc with a squadron of wooden ships under canvas.
But the 1Navy Department and its experts, who took the responsibility of these innovations, encountered opposition until their innovations proved successful; when contractors who had been employed, and party politicians who had ends to subserve, sought to appropriate to themselves the credit, denied the Department any merit, and utterly ignored its ingenious and scientific assistants.
It was asserted on the floor of Congress, as late as 1868, by General Benjamin F. Butler
, one of the leading and most influential politicians of that day: “I desire to say here, that the country is under the greatest obligations to a member of this House, a member from New York, who advanced the money and paid the entire expenses out of his own funds in order to get the “Monitor” built, which met the “Merrimac
” in Hampton Roads
Mr. John A. Griswold
, the gentleman alluded to, a wealthy iron-master, and one of the contractors for the “Monitor,” was then a member, and at the time this declaration was made was a candidate for the office of Governor
of New York.
He not only quietly listened, without any attempt to correct what he knew to be the misstatement of General Butler
, but a paper published at his place of residence, and of which I was informed he was a part owner, repeated many times the averment, and asserted that Mr. Griswold
and his associates “built the original” Monitor “at their own risk, having agreed not to call upon the Government
for remuneration until the vessel had been ”