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 would not agree to convert their steamers into war vessels. Unless, therefore, it can be shown that they were worse than none, their presence can not be properly enumerated among the causes of the failure. The fall of New Orleans was a great disaster, over which there was general lamentation, mingled with no little indignation. The excited feeling demanded a victim, and conflicing testimony of many witnesses most nearly concerned made it convenient to select for censure those most removed and least active in their own justification. Thus the naval constructors of the Mississippi and the Secretary of the Navy became the special objects of attack. The selection of these had little of justice in it, and could not serve to relieve others of their responsibility, as did the old-time doom of the scapegoat. New Orleans had never been a shipbuilding port, and when the Messrs. Tift, the agents to build the ironclad steamer Mississippi arrived there, they had to prepare a shipyard, procure lumber from a distance, have the foundries and rolling-mills adapted to such iron work as could be done in the city, and contract elsewhere for the balance. They were ingenious, well informed in matters of shipbuilding, and were held in high esteem in Georgia and Florida, where they had long resided. They submitted a proposition to the Secretray of the Navy to build a vessel on a new model. The proposition was accepted after full examination of the plan proposed, the novelty of which made it necessary that they should have full control of the work of construction. To the embarrassments above mentioned were added interruptions by calling off the workmen occasionally for exercise and instruction as militiamen, the city being threatened by the enemy. From these causes, unexpected delay in the completion of the ship resulted, regret for which increased as her most formidable character was realized. These constructors—the brothers Tift—hoped to gain much reputation by the ship which they designed, and from this motive agreed to give their full service and unremitted attention in its construction without compensation or other allowance than their current expenses. It would, therefore, on the face of it, seem to have been a most absurd suspicion that they willingly delayed the completion of the vessel, and at last wantonly destroyed it. E. C. Murray, who was the contractor for building the Louisiana, in his testimony before a committee of the Confederate Congress, testified that he had been a practical shipbuilder for twenty years and a contractor for the preceding eighteen years, having built about a hundred twenty boats, steamers, and sailing vessels. There was only a fence
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