The import of an ironclad or, more properly speaking, a monitor attack has not been fully understood by many intelligent persons.
Had the absolute destruction of all the vessels entering been assured in the event of failure, and had there remained a sufficient reserve force of any character off the harbor to assure the maintenance of the blockade against the ironclads of the enemy within the harbor, probably every captain at the Council of War would have been in favor of entering, but with the chances of some of the vessels grounding, and of others being sunk in shoal water by torpedoes, and afterward raised and employed by the enemy, there was too much danger of losing control of the coast to make it desirable to take the risk.
These considerations would naturally be controlling proportionately with the damage that might follow a lack of success in an attack, and would be quite independent of the loss of vessels and of men in making one with reasonable probability of success.
From pages 553 to 593 of ‘Memoir of Admiral Dahlgren
’ will be found the text of an official letter of the admiral to the Department, explanatory of the ironclad question in relation to the taking of Charleston
It is dated October 16, 1865, and as we are informed on the preceding page by the editor: ‘We hold the manuscript in our possession, thus endorsed by the admiral: “Withdrawn November 8, 1865, the Department objecting
to the introduction of Dupont
and the opinions of officers, and to those parts where it is assumed, or seems to be so, that the Department did not send vessels enough.—J. A. D.”
The editor of the ‘Memoir,’ adds: ‘In other words, the Department was too inimical and revengeful in feeling to Dupont to be just
, or to be willing to have him relieved in any measure through any act of theirs, of any possible effect resulting from their continuous displeasure.’