her sides struck of course obliquely and then glanced off without penetrating the 3/4-inch plate.
Should a vessel intended to work in a rapid river, stamp, or tideway be repulsed, she can back out, as the gunboats disabled at Fort Donelson did, still exposing only her bows.
I infer from these results that a boats constructed as sketched below would be very powerful, sufficiently-protected,and, drawing little water, able, taking advantage of the tides, to pass though the island passages on the Southern coast from Fernandina to Charleston, and that three of them, mounting, say, four bow guns each, to be 11-inch, 10-inch shell guns or heavy rifles, old 32 or 42 pounder rifled,would give a battery of 12 guns, able to meet and destroy any hastily-erected battery on the low shores of the Southern inlets; drawing only 3 1/2 to 4 feet of water, able to visit every town on the coast intersected by an inlet not absolutely bare at half tide.
The 11-inch shells are a most powerful engine of destruction for close quarters, at which these vessels would terminate their fight but the rifled 32- and 42 pounder shells have a penetrating power enabling them to pass though parapets of light earl of the thickness ordinarily used, nd an accuracy of fire enabling hem to be thrown into the wide-mounted embrasures of any eathern battery.
These boats are supposed to be sheathed on the bow, which can be struck only very obliquely, with 1 1/2-inch iron or with iron bars, while the bulkhead covering their batteries is of 2 1/2-inch iron, as used on the Western rivers. No other armor is necessary.
The wight borne at the widest part of the boats is not very great, and by being well braced, the length can be made sufficient to give buoyancy and preserve a light draught.
There is, if I read the Coast Survey map aright, a channel through which such boats could, removing obstructions, pass into Charleston Harbor above Fort Sumter, and a threat to lay Charleston in ashes would probably procure the vacation of Sumter, certainly that of Charleston and the blockade of Sumter.
I have spoken with the Secretary of the Navy on this subject, and he authorized me to speak to you about it.
The Western rolling-mills have now practice in preparing this iron, its simple form enabling them to prepare it rapidly and cheaply.
The frames of the vessels could be made in New York and shipped thence. The engineers for at least one of them can be brought ready-made, I understand, in Saint Louis, and with proper energy, from the day the plans are completed and the order given, I think that in forty days one at least of these vessels could be afloat at Port Royal.
They should be built at some convenient point in Port Royal Harober, perhaps at Hilton Head or Beaufort. There is, I believe, inland navigation practicable for them from Charleston to Fernandina, and with favorable weather they could probably finish their cruise in the Saint John's, having taken Fernandina and Jacksonville, Fal.
I respectfully advise the immediate construction of three or four such vessels at Port Royal.
The appropriation of gunboats under the Quartermaster's Department is confined to the Western rivers.
I submit a very hasty sketch of the general plan proposed.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General, U. S. Army.
43 R R-VOL VII