War of the Rebellion: Serial 014 Page 0336 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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with all the benefits of their experience they have essayed another. They are aware that she can rest secure under the guns of Fort Darling and sally out to commit her depredations at pleasure. It is not unlikely, either, that she can be worked through a channel in the blockade, under the protection of the guard of Fort Darling, that it would not be practicable for our gunboats to find out under their fire. I think that the evidence of an intention on the part of the rebels to bring out a second Merrimac is sufficient at least to prompt us to be prepared for any emergency of the kind. The possibility, probability, plausibility, and direct evidence are all in favor of such a case.

This is no doubt one of the storm presaged by the present calm on James River and hinted at by the Richmond press; a storm that is destinated to burst as suddenly on James River as did that of the first Merrimac on the waters of Hampton Roads. May it not be as disastrous even as that in its consequences?

Let one of our best gunboats be detailed to watch the coming of this craft through the blockade, and as soon as she makes her appearance let preparations be complete for running her ashore and capturing her, which is the easiest and most profitable way of disposing of her.

General McClellan has the above information, and will no doubt take proper action in the matter. If this craft, as formidable as she is represented, should come suddenly down upon us, simultaneously with the rebel land forces, it would no doubt create rather an unpleasant little sensation here. This should be very studiously guarded against. She could do a great deal of damage by addressing herself exclusively to our shipping and land forces before she could be overcome, unless preparations were already perfected for running her ashore and capturing her before she should reach our vulnerable point on the river.

Later. SATURDAY EVENING, July 26.

I have just learned from an intelligent Jew boy, fourteen years of age, who is right from Richmond, under flag of truce (to join his parents, formerly of City Point, but now residing on Eppes Island, opposite that place), that he saw the new rebel gunboat Richmond as they call her, lying at the Rocketts, below Richmond, day before yesterday, receiving her iron plating that they were plating her with transverse layers of iron plates, about 2 inches thick and 6 or 8 inches wide; that he saw about fifteen hands at work on her, but the plating did not seem to be very far advanced yet; that he was not on board, and did not see her interior; saw no guns aboard,but saw that there were three port-holes on each side and one on each end. He did not know anything about when they expected to have the craft completed or what they intended to do with her; that he heard it said she was built pretty much like the Merrimac except that she was not so long and large.

From this statement it would appear that there will be probably plenty of time for the making of proper preparations for the reception of this monster, and that she will probably not interfere with our James River operations for two or three weeks yet, if its is the intention to bring her at all below the blockade. Within that time I hope to see wonders accomplished by our land forces.

I will keep close watch of this secesh monster through every a available channel of information, and promptly report her progress as near as possible.

Ever truly, your friend and obedient servant,

T. S. S. [T. S. SEYBOLT.]