the water line, thus securing to that extent the protection of an armor far more complete than that in which any steel-clad ship can incase herself. In England they are building steel-clad frigates at a cost of $2,500,000 each. Such is the difference between steam frigates for all seas and weatehr and steam launchs for gentle waters and smooth weather.
Now, if I be right in my calculations, we can for a sum not excedding the cost of one of these new-fashioned men-of-war, with her ten or a dozen guns, build, put afloat, equip, man, and maintain in our own water a fleet of 200 guns. The Niagara, costing near a million and a half, mounts but ten guns. If we set promptly and energetically to work, we may, by the opening of the next campaign, have this little but powerful navy ready for action. Suppose these launches to be fleet-footed-they ought to have speed-and that ten of them, choosing their opportunity, s hould attack the Niagara, taking their position at long but good rifled-cannon range. She has not a gun that will carry that far, for few of Loncoln's ships have rifled cannon, and those that have then have only a few pieces. Broadside on, the Niagara would present a target of not less than 10,000 quare feet against oe of only forty by each launch. The conest would be most unequal, and the chances in favor of the launches would be as 250 to 1, for that is the muletiple by which the target of the frigate exceeds the target of the launches. The Potomac squadron of the enemy would find in a fleet of 100 such launches a perfect hornet's nest.
You recollect as bearing me out in this position the exploit a few weeks ago of a little bit of a steam-tug called the Harmony. Mainly by way of experiment a rifled 32-pounder was put on board. With it she went down from Norfolk and took up her position at the ditance of two miles and a quarter from the Savannah, and then she fired for hours a that ship, dismounting, I am told, her big gun and striking her several times, but receiving no damage whatever in return. Now, with a little training and practice, how much more effective might we not expect her firing to become? Suppose the convention, as soon as it mets, were to authroize the building of these launches. The shi-carpenters of Mathews and Gloucester and other counties would build them in a little while. most of them are serving with the active volunteers, but would, I am told, willingly exchange for these launches, and work on them at half the old navy-yard rates. Green timber will answer for them, though there is no lack of seasoned already cut and dried by the Yankees. These boats may be built almost at any point on the James, York, Rappahannock, &c., that is sufficiently protected by our batteries. In the war of 1812 we built a ship on the Lakes in sixty days. Surely we can improvise launches here now as quickly as we did ships there then.
Imagine this fleet of 100 propellers coming out by prior arrangement some mild day next spring, and the Potomac being as smooth as a mill-pond, going up to clear that river out. The enemy might be taken by surprise; at any rate, the larger his ships there the better, for there can be no reasonable doubt as to what the result would be, for he could not get away. From Willoughby's point to Fortress Mornoe is exactly two miles and a half. This is within effective rifle-cannon range. Suppose that while we are getting our launches made a heavy battery of rifled pieces be quietly erected on that spit. From it to the Ripraps the distance is a mile and a half. The man of war anchorage is between there and Fortress Monroe. The guns of the Willoughby's Point battery could drive out the ships sheltered there and force them where we could reach