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[188] being remedied wholly or in part. So much for the monitors.

The Ironsides is a fine, powerful ship. Her armor has stood heavy battering very well, and her broadside of seven eleven-inch guns and one eight-inch rifle has always told with signal effect when opened on the enemy. Draught of water about fifteen and one-half to sixteen feet. Speed six to seven knots, and crew about four hundred and forty men.

The defects of the vessel are the unplated ends, which are consequently easily damaged by a raking fire, and involve the rudder and screw more or less, while she can return no fire in either direction. This was particularly and frequently inconvenient in attacking the works on Morris Island, for at certain stages of the tide vessels tail nearly across the channel, and present bow and stern to the beach of Morris Island, so that sometimes it was necessary to delay placing the vessel in position, and at others she would swing around very awkwardly when engaged.

The monitors, on the other hand, were almost equally well defended on all sides, and could fire in any direction. The Ironsides was also open to descending shot, and her scope of fire too much restricted by badly placed ports.

The desire for comparison which rages just now can easily be satisfied by bringing the above data in juxtaposition.

Just as they are, the Ironsides is capable of a more rapid and concentrated fire, which, under the circumstances, made her guns more effective than the fifteen-inch of the monitors. On the other hand, she was restricted by draught to the mid-channel, was very vulnerable to a raking fire, and the direction of her own guns was very limited laterally.

The monitors could operate in most of the channels,--could direct their fire around the whole circle,--and were almost equally well defended on all sides.

The defects in both classes of vessels are susceptible of being remedied partially or entirely. The defence of the Ironsides could be made complete, and that of the monitors equally to. The armament of the monitors could be perfected so as to give all desirable rapidity of fire, but by no contrivance could the Ironsides be enabled to use much heavier guns than those mounted. Yet when such changes were made as experience has suggested, there still would remain to the monitors the lighter draught, choice of guns from the heaviest to the lightest, defensibility, and direction of fire around the whole circle; consequently the ability to carry a heavy battery into the least depth of water, with equal power of offence and defence in any direction, and that with half the number of guns carried in broadside by another vessel.

The comparison now made is to be understood as having relation to existing circumstances, and not at all intended as conclusive in regard to the general merits of iron-clads.

It is in this sense that the action of the navy department is to be considered with reference to the selection of one class of vessels over another.

It is evident that it was not designed to adopt any one style exclusively, for of the three vessels first ordered, two were of the ordinary broadside class — the Ironsides and the Galena. The latter was quickly proved to be absolutely inefficient, and so must any armored steamer of that size. It is universally admitted that plates of less than four and a half (4 1/2) inches cannot stand the shock of heavy projectiles, and vessels so armored must be of considerable tonnage.

I presume the department only intended to build such vessels as were best adapted to the service at the scene of war.

Keeping in view the peculiar exigencies of the case, which required light draught and great ordnance power, it appears that the selection of the department could not have been more judicious in preferring a number of monitors to operate from a heavy frigate as a base; and if the intent of the department could have been carried out in regard to numbers, we should now have been in entire possession of the coast from the capes of Virginia to New Orleans, including Wilmington, Charleston, Mobile, &c.

Many defects of both classes are easily remediable, but some of those in the monitors could only be determined by the test of battle ; before that, approximation only was possible.

What other style of vessel could the department have chosen? Certainly none that has been built by English or French naval authorities. The Warrior and her class are exceedingly powerful, but could not get within gunshot here.1

On the other hand, there is very little navigable water on this coast which is not accessible to the monitors. They command supremely all that is near the shore, and cannot themselves be reached by vessels of heavier draught. So that when there was some reason to apprehend the appearance of certain rams in this quarter, I assured the department that the iron-clads could maintain position so long as coal and provisions lasted.

It may appear that I speak too positively on the subject, but some experience with them certainly gives a right to do so. With a single exception I have been on board a monitor in all the principal actions, and the recurrence of casualties to the fleet captains2 near me shows that I was in a situation to judge. I was once in the Ironsides in an attack on Moultrie and Sumter. I have also watched the behavior of the monitors at anchor through all the phases of winter weather in this exposed situation.

The completeness with which four little monitors, supported by an iron-clad frigate, have closed this port, is well worth noting.

Very soon after entering the roads I advanced one monitor well up towards the inner debouches

1 According to Rear-Admiral Paris, the French Gloria draws 28 feet; the British Warrior, 26 feet; the Black Prince, 23 1/2 fleet; even those of inferior class, Defence and Resistance, draw 24 feet. Not one of these vessels could cross the Charleston bar, and would be perfectly impotent to render the least service in any of the operations now being carried on.

2 Captain George W. Rodgers was next ahead when killed off Wagner, and his successor, Captain Badger, had his leg broken by an iron splinter in the attack on Sumter.

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