in the White House
before we leave this room.”
Most of Stanton
's complaints were directed to me, and to me the others turned-not complainingly, but naturally for information or suggestion that might give relief.
I had little to impart, except my faith in the untried “Monitor” experiment, which we had prepared for the emergency; an assurance that the “Merrimac
,” with her draught, and loaded with iron, could not pass Kettle Bottom Shoals, in the Potomac
, and ascend the river and surprise us with a cannon-ball; and advised that, instead of adding to the general panic, it would better become us to calmly consider the situation, and inspire confidence by acting, so far as we could, intelligently, and with discretion and judgment.
approved the suggestion, but thought it might be well to telegraph Governor Morgan
and Mayor Opdyke
, at New York, that they might be on their guard.
said he should warn the authorities in all the chief cities.
I questioned the propriety of sending abroad panic missives, or adding to the alarm that would naturally be felt, and said it was doubtful whether the vessel, so cut down and loaded with armor, would venture outside of the Capes; certainly, she could not, with her draught of water, get into the sounds of North Carolina
to disturb Burnside
and our forces there; nor was she omnipresent, to make general destruction at New York, Boston
, Port Royal
, etc., at the same time; that there would be general alarm created; and repeated that my dependence was on the “Monitor,” and my confidence in her great.
“What,” asked Stanton
, “is the size and strength of this” Monitor “How many guns does she carry 2” When I replied two, but of large calibre, he turned away with a look of mingled amazement, contempt, and distress, that was painfully ludicrous.
said that my remark concerning the draught of water which the “Merrimac
” drew, and the assurance that it was impossible for her to get at our forces under Burnside
, afforded him the first moment of relief and real comfort he had received.
It was his sensitive nature to be easily depressed, but yet to promptly rally and catch at hope.
Turning to Stanton
, he said we had, perhaps, given away too much to our apprehensions.
He saw no alternative but to wait and hear what our new battery might accomplish.
left abruptly after Seward
The President ordered his carriage, and went to the Navy Yard
to see what might be the views of the naval officers.
Returning to my house a little before twelve o'clock, I stopped at St. John's Church, and called out Commodore Smith
, to whom I communicated the tidings we had received, and that the “Congress,” commanded by his son, Commander Joseph Smith
, had been sunk.