On December 6th the monitor Weehawken
sunk when made fast to one of the mooring buoys placed for those vessels within the Charleston
bar. The previous day Commander Colhoun
had been relieved by Commander Jesse Duncan
, and a day or so before had taken on board as many heavy shells as the vessel would hold.
The capacity of the shell-room of a monitor was found to be entirely insufficient for long continuous operations, hence the fore body was also allotted for their stowage.
The hold was little deeper than sufficient to contain a Xv-inch shell, below the ‘flying deck,’ which means one made of movable sections.
The shells were thus conveniently stowed, and easily got up in action, and their weight not only made the monitors lie deep in the water, but also reduced the difference of draught between the bow and stern from a foot and a half to about six or eight inches, and this resulted in a sluggish water flow to the powerful pumps, which, placed aft, were ineffective, since the water could not reach them and hence could not be expelled.
When within Charleston
bar, where the swell was often heavy, and usually sufficient to wash over the deck, in order to make the monitors habitable, or existence in them possible in hot weather, high coamings, or ‘hoppers’ as they were called, were fitted around the hatch-openings.
The reader will remember that the ‘windlass-room’ is a small apartment, previously described, in the bow of the monitors into which the anchor-chain is led through the hawse-hole from the ‘anchor-well.’
The plate over the latter forms a chamber, and serves as an air-cushion, in a measure preventing the entrance of water through the hawse-hole by slopping.
Heavy plaits of strands of rope were made, known as gaskets, which were pliable, and in rough weather, whether at sea or at anchor
, were, or should