book is not always accessible, and such versions of occurrences of the war as this of Mr. Porter
sometimes find their way into crude histories of the day, I deem it proper to present the subject from another point of view, with evidence..
Early in June, 1861, Mr. Mallory
of the Confederate States
Navy, asked me to design an iron-clad.
The first idea presenting itself was a shield of timber two feet thick, plated with three inches of iron, inclined to the horizontal plane at the least angle that would permit working the guns.
This shield to be supported by a hull of equal length.
But it was apparent, on inspection, that to support the massive shield the ends of the vessel would be so full and bluff as to prevent the attainment of speed.
It then occurred to me that fineness of line, buoyancy, and protection of hull could be obtained by extending the ends of the vessel under water beyond the shield.
To prevent the banking up of water on these submerged ends I erected upon them a superstructure of shipiron, corresponding in form with the hull below, but not higher than would permit the free use of bow and stern guns; these superstructures to be decked.
Of this design I submitted outline drawings—body, sheer, and deck-plans—to Mr. Mallory
, who approved and adopted them.
I then asked that Chief Engineer Williamson
and Constructor Porter
should be sent for from the Norfolk
navy-yard to put the plan in execution.
This the Secretary
declined doing, but ordered a practical mechanic to be sent up from the Norfolk yard
The mechanic came, aided in the statement of timber, etc., but was unable to make the working drawings, and was permitted to return to the yard.
and Chief Engineer Williamson
were then ordered to report.
They came, and we met in consultation with the Secretary
brought and presented for consideration a model of an iron-clad of the same form as that which I had rejected for reasons above stated.
When we had examined the model, the Secretary
said he wished to show Messrs. Porter
a plan proposed by Lieutenant Brooke
The plan was then placed before them, and the reasons for extending the ends of the hull beyond the shield and under water were stated, and they approved the plan.
It had been, as stated above, previously adopted by the Department.
then directed Messrs. Williamson
to ascertain if suitable engines and boilers could be had. To me he said: ‘Make a clean drawing in ink of your plan, to be filed in the department.’
As I placed the paper on the table and was about to begin,