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The Merrimack
Naval Dispatches 1861-1862

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Official Records of the Confederate Navy
Naval Dispataches - September 20, 1861 to March 7, 1862

Letter from Lieutenant Minor, C.S. Navy, to Lieutenant Jones, C.S. Navy, commanding Jamestown battery, referring to the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) and the arrival from England of Munitions of war.

BUREAU ORDNANCE AND HYDROGRAPHY,

September 20, 1861.

MY DEAR SIR: Brooke and I have read your letter with suggestions for the armament of the Merrimack, and as you say heavy guns are to be mounted, but not one of X-inch but rather of IX-inch, the heaviest to be cast of this caliber, say 14,000 pounds. Buchanan will probably be her captain, and I hope you will be her first lieutenant. I am overwhelmed with duty, some of it, too, not mine, and as rifled guns and projectiles are all the go, I am kept hard at work preparing them for service. A steamer from England has come into Savannah with powder (thank God!), blankets, and munitions of war. North, who is in England, had a hand in it, I believe. I hope this supply will not make the people in power here relax their efforts to make a supply for ourselves. I am glad to say that our prospects for a plenty of this munition are improving, and on yesterday I had the pleasure of obtaining a quantity of saltpeter and sulphur for a mill at Raleigh. Good news, is it not? and I confess that my breath comes easier now than it did when our prospects were so blue. Officers are being sent off to New Orleans for defenses there, and it seems to be the opinion now that Fernandina will soon be attacked.

I send eight tackles for Whittle at Spratley's farm, which please have forwarded to him. How shall I send other and heavier things to him? I did not mean to rifle an old 32, but to ask the charge for a new gun of 33 hundredweight just made. How much? Three and a half pounds?

Excuse haste. Very truly, yours, R. D. MINOR.


Order of the Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States to Lieutenant Simms, C. S. Navy, transferring him from the command of the C.S.S. Richmond to duty on the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack).

CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,

Navy Department, Richmond, November 20, l861.

SIR: You are hereby detached from the command of the steamer Richmond and will proceed to Norfolk without delay and report to Flag Officer Forrest for duty on board the Merrimack.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, S. R. MALLORY, Secretary of the Navy.


Order of the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Lieutenant Jones, C.S. Navy, to test the guns for the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, DOCKYARD,

Gosport [Norfolk], November 23, 1861.

SIR: On the arrival of the rifled guns designed for the Merrimack, you will be pleased to ascertain by actual firing their range and capacity. For this purpose the guns will be placed temporarily in battery at the naval hospital, and, on your requisition, the necessary powder, not to exceed 300 pounds, will be furnished.

Very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag-Officer and Commandant.


Letter from the commandant Navy Yard, Norfolk, to W.G. Webb, esq., regarding the shipment of iron for the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, DOCKYARD,

Gosport [Norfolk], November 25, 1861.

SIR: You will proceed without delay to Richmond, via Petersburg, and, after seeing the agents, superintendents, and other officials of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, together with the proprietors of the Tredegar Works, you will make all necessary arrangements for the shipment of the iron for the Merrimack by way of Weldon. You are necessarily left to your own discretion in this matter to some extent, and I rely greatly upon your energy and intelligence in carrying out this order.

Very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag-Officer and Commandant.


Instructions from the Chief of Office of Ordnance and Hydrography to Commander Tucker, C.S. Navy, commanding C. S. S. Patrick Henry, regarding a change of the armament of that vessel.

BUREAU OF ORDNANCE AND HYDROGRAPHY, December 4, 1861.

SIR: The Secretary of the Navy has referred to this Bureau that portion of your letter relating to the change of armament of the steamer Patrick Henry.

The Bureau has no rifled gun at its disposal of 24-pounder caliber, nor does it propose to have any cast of that class.

The bow and stern guns for the Merrimack are 7-inch bore, or 42-pounders, and weigh 14,000 pounds each. The enclosed tracing will show you the dimensions of this gun. If you find it will fit the pivot carriage you now have, one of these guns can be furnished to the Patrick Henry.

There are also some guns in the course of fabrication weighing 9,000 pounds, banded and rifled. They are the caliber of the smoothbore 32-pounders (6.40-inch), and are longer than the old 32s.

If a rifled gun, or two of them, is furnished to the Patrick Henry, it is desirable that they should be of such dimensions as to fit the pivot carriages she now has on board, for, independent of the cost of new carriages, they can not be supplied from the Norfolk yard until after the work on the Merrimack is finished.

The steamer Jamestown is armed with two rifled 32-pounders of 57 hundredweight. To secure rapidity of fire it is desirable that she should have a smoothbore gun. If your 8-inch gun, with its carriage, can be transferred to the Jamestown, and her rifled gun to the Patrick Henry, the Bureau thinks that the armament of both vessels would be improved. If this arrangement meets your views, please inform the Bureau.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant, GEORGE MINOR, Commander, for Chief of the Bureau.


Order of the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Acting Master Parrish, C. S. Navy, regarding the removal of obstructions in view of the movement of the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) to Hampton Roads.

DECEMBER 6, 1861.

SIR: As the period is fast approaching when it is presumed that the Merrimack will be in readiness to proceed down to Hampton Roads, care must be taken that the obstructions in the channel be removed at a sufficient distance to allow her passage through them. In view of such facilities, you will immediately ascertain by actual observation, and have opened for her passage, the necessary breadth of channel, removing all and every impediment likely to obstruct her way, and report to me accordingly.

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant, F. FORREST, Flag-Officer.


Report of Lieutenant Sharp, C.S. Navy, giving information obtained while a prisoner on the U.S. ship Congress in Hampton Roads.

BUREAU ORDNANCE. Richmond, Va., December 9, 1861.

MY DEAR SIR: In a moment of leisure it occurs to me to write you of my observations while on board of the Congress, Commander William Smith, off Newport News, during nine days. There is a strongly built battery of five large guns riverward, at the upper bridge toward the river. The southeast gun is on a semicircular battery alone; the others on a parapet. The battery seems continuous, looking inland, but the Congress's deck being about as high as the sand bank, I could not count inland guns, or even see them, though the parapet curvature satisfied me that the battery is circular or oval. The same parallel line of view prevented me from the judging of the number of troops, but it was extensive. The river-edge trees remain; inland, they have been cut down, and houses, etc., are built and being built. In addition to the original old bridge, a fine, large one has been constructed, similar to the ordnance bridge, you may recollect, at Old Point. Steamers go to both bridges. The Express, steamer, runs twice daily between Newport News and old Point; the other boats are hospital, house boats, etc.

While there one night, about 8 p.m., a steamer was seen and reported as the P.H. [Patrick Henry]. General quarters and thorough preparations were made, but relieved on falsifying the statement. The Congress has removed her gun deck cabin and has two long 32s out of stern ports. The original crew she had in Brazil, Lieutenants J. B. Smith and A. Pendergrast, Purser Buchanan, and Dr. Shippen; all the rest are masters and masters' mates from the merchant service, unless forward officers. At sunset, though always loaded, batteries are primed, guns cast loose and ranged obliquely; regular sea watches kept; no hammocks allowed on gun deck, or lights above water; stream anchor at port quarter, hawsers bent, and others on deck; buoys all around ship, and spars in angular form reach from forward of flying jibbooms, lashed, hung by tackles from head booms and fore channels, passing the last so as to glance off passing objects, torpedoes' etc. Crew well drilled, furnished with Sharps and Minié rifles, and all modern appliances. Boat howitzer in quarter-deck after ports. Stevens, Butt, and I were confined on the Congress; Dalton and Loyall on the Cumberland, Captain Livingston; officers, Lieutenants G. U. Morris and Selfridge, Dr. Jackson, and others merchantmen appointments. The Cumberland rows guard nightly. Both ships two cables, length apart, under the battery, less than half a mile distant. The Cumberland has outriggers like the Congress. I left the Congress on the 20th ultimo, when the Cambridge, Commander W. A. Parker, Lieutenant Gwin; Hetzel, Captain H. K. Davenport; Shawsheen, Lieutenant E. R. Colhoun; and another tugboat, armed, were near us permanently. Nightly the small ones distributed themselves above the ship anchorage, keep steam up always, and retire off the battery each morning. The Cambridge is a fore-topsail, schooner- rigged propeller, of 700 or 800 tons, with four or six broadside guns, and one forward and aft; flush hurricane deck. The smaller ones have each a Parrott gun forward and aft. Communications from the Newport News points to Old Point are communicated by flag signals from the terminus of Newport News, doubtless Signal Major Myer's invention. Bright lookouts are always kept up on Pig Point, Sewell Point, Elizabeth River, and all batteries. Not a boat ever escapes observation. As I did not go forward, I did not see what I saw from the Connecticut while passing the Minnesota and Roanoke from seaward. They have grapnels hung from all head booms, spritsail yards, etc., dangling in the water. I suppose ours had, too. The Minnesota has only two lieutenants, Grafton and Watters. Clary commands the propeller Dawn, which has only two Parrott guns in broadside. While on board of the Congress, old Glisson passed a night near us in the Mount Vernon, a vessel similar to the Cambridge.

I asked Captain Elicks to tell you all this, but thought best, later, to write, hoping that the information sent may be advantageous to you. I left Captain Barron well; they are (south) endeavoring to give exchange for him. I hope they will succeed. I was two and a half months in Fort Columbus, nine days in Fort Warren, one-half day on board the North Carolina, Captain Meade, and nine days on board of the Congress.

Hoping that the contents of this letter may prove agreeable to you, and that you will present my warmest regards to the officers,

I am, sir, with high respect, very truly, yours, WM. SHARP.

Captain Maury directs me to say that if you will lengthen your trigger line twice the length of the distance from the end of the flying jibboom to the cutwater, the Congress's fenders will not prove obstructions.


Letter from the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Major-General  Huger, C.S. Army, commanding at Norfolk, regarding the removal of obstructions for the passage of the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, DOCKYARD, Gosport [Norfolk], December 9, 1861.

GENERAL: In reply to your communication of the 6th I have to inform you that there is no vessel here for the purpose indicated.

I have to-day issued orders for the pile heads below to be cut down at low-water mark, and in the event of an attack will have the United States, frigate, towed into position and anchored athwart the channel at the light-house below Craney Island, so as not to be in range of that work or Sewell's Point.

To obstruct the channel would be to blockade the Merrimack, and with a view to get her out when completed, I have ordered the obstructions below to be sufficiently removed to admit her passage. Mr. Parrish, who will present this, will explain this more satisfactorily.

Very respectfully, F. Forrest, Flag-Officer and Commandant.


Letter from the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Major-General Huger, C. S. Army, commanding at Norfolk, requesting a supply of oil for the C. S. S. Virginia Merrimack.

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, DOCKYARD, Gosport [Norfolk], January 25, 1862.

GENERAL: I have just learned that one of the enemy's vessels has been driven on shore with several hundred gallons of oil on board, and hasten to lay before you the request that this, or as much thereof as can possibly be spared, may be transferred to the navy yard. I make this request because we are without oil for the Merrimack, and the importance of supplying this deficiency is too obvious for me to urge anything more in its support.

Very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag-Officer and Commandant.


Letter from the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Flag-Officer Lynch, C. S. Navy, commanding naval defenses of North Carolina and Virginia, regarding the transfer of men from the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, DOCKYARD, Gosport [Norfolk], January 29,1862.

SIR: Your letter has been received by the commodore, and, as we have no men in ordinary, I send you, by his order, 20 men from the crew of the Merrimack. Their accounts do not accompany them, and I beg you to remember that they are loaned for the emergency. I wish you all possible success.

Very respectfully, S. S. LEE, Executive Officer, for Commandant.


Order of the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Acting Master Evans, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. ship United States, regarding transfer of men from the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack.)

JANUARY 29, 1862.

[SIR:] By direction of Flag Officer Forrest, you will be pleased to get in readiness the 20 men of the Merrimack's crew, who volunteered their services for Commodore Lynch's squadron. Send them with their bags and hammocks. Their accounts, if found necessary, will be sent afterwards. You will keep one list of the men on board and the other list for the officer in charge of them.

Respectfully, your obedient servant, S. S. LEE, For Flag-Officer.


Letter from the Chief of Bureau of Ordnance and Hydrography, to Commander Tucker, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. S. Patrick Henry, regarding the guns for that vessel.

OFFICE OF ORDNANCE AND HYDROGRAPHY, Richmond, Va., February 1, 1862.

SIR: The two 32-pounders of 57 hundredweight (rifled and banded) for the Patrick Henry were forwarded from the navy yard, Norfolk, to City Point on the 28th ultimo. The shells are not yet ready, but will be forwarded as soon as the orders for the Merrimack are filled.

Respectfully, your obedient servant, GEORGE MINOR, Commander, in Charge.


Order of Captain Buchanan, C. S. Navy, Chief of Office of Orders and Detail, to Commander Tucker, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. S. Patrick Henry, regarding the preparation of that vessel and the Jamestown for cooperation with the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack).

C. S. NAVY DEPARTMENT, Office of Orders and Detail, Richmond, February 8, 1862.

SIR: Your requisition and drawing have been received and forwarded to Flag-Officer Forrest, with a request to have the work done without delay. No fire brick can be had. Engineer Williamson says any common brick will answer the purpose. Please inform me how much more coal the Patrick Henry and Jamestown will require to fill up. I wish you to keep both vessels in readiness to cooperate with the Merrimack when that ship is ready for service, which will be in a few weeks. The latter part of this communication I wish confined to Lieutenant Commanding Barney and yourself.

By command of Secretary of Navy:

Respectfully, your obedient servant, FRANKLIN BUCHANAN, Captain, in Charge.


Order of the Chief of Office of Orders and Detail, to Commander Tucker, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. S. Patrick Henry, regarding the shipment of men for that vessel.

C. S. NAVY DEPARTMENT, Office of Orders and Detail, Richmond, February 10, 1862.

SIR: Your letter of the 7th instant, relating to deficiencies in the crew of the Patrick Henry, has been received. I have a rendezvous open in Richmond and Norfolk to ship men for the Navy. As yet but few have offered. As soon as men are procured from the Army or rendezvous, your complement shall be furnished to you. You are authorized to ship men should any offer themselves. The Merrimack has not yet received her crew, notwithstanding all my efforts to procure them from the Army.

By command of Secretary of Navy:

Respectfully, your obedient servant, FRANKLIN BUCHANAN, Captain, in Charge


Letters from the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to major-General Huger, C.S. Army, commanding at Norfolk, suggesting means for defeating communication by signal, regarding the undocking of the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANTS OFFICE, DOCKYARD, Gosport [Norfolk], February 15, 1862.

GENERAL: There can be little question that communications are held by the unfaithful people of these two towns with the enemy, and the successful undocking of the Merrimack will, without doubt, be communicated by means of signal rockets or lights. Such being the case, I beg that you will cause all the signal officers to be supplied with rockets, so that every battery may repeat these signals if made, by which means the enemy will understand us as signalizing among ourselves. I submit the suggestion for your consideration, and hope you will have it put in force should the necessity arise.

Very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag-Officer and Commandant.


Letter from the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Naval Constructor Porter, C. S. Navy, regarding two additional boats for the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, February 15, 1862.

SIR: Captain Buchanan is anxious to carry two small, light boats, hung at davits, with him. I have no objection to this if you can have iron davits placed so as to hoist them just clear of the water. I have determined to send two boats, with a tug, to accompany the ship, to remain in the distance and out of the line of fire, to be in readiness to obey any signal he may make for them; still, if a couple of small, light boats can be advantageously hoisted up at the stern quarters, to supply any contingency that might happen, such as a dispatch boat, or in the event of any accident of a man's falling overboard, perhaps it would be advisable to have them. Let me know your views on this subject.

Respectfully, F. FORREST, Commandant.


Order of the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Lieutenant [Catesby] Jones, C. S. Navy, executive officer C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack), regarding the commissioning of that vessel.

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE' DOCKYARD, Gosport, February 17, 1862.

SIR: You will be pleased to receive on board the Virginia, immediately after dinner today, all the officers and men attached to the vessel, with their baggage, hammocks, etc., and have the ship put in order throughout. She will remain where she is to coal and receive her powder. You will report to me when your men ana officers are on board, and use every effort to get the ship in order, as this day she is put in commission.

I am, very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag- Officer and Commandant.


Order of the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Lieutenant Morgan, C. S. Navy, C. S. receiving ship United States, regarding the crew of the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, DOCKYARD, Gosport, February 17, 1862.

SIR: You will be pleased to hold the crew of the Virginia in readiness to go on board that ship with their baggage, as an order has been issued to Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones for their transfer.

Very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag- Officer and Commandant.


Order of the Chief of Office of Orders and Detail to Commander Tucker, C.S. Navy, commanding C.S.S. Patrick Henry, regarding deficiency in the crew of that vessel.

OFFICE OF ORDERS AND DETAIL, C.S. Navy Department, Richmond, Va., February 18,1862.

SIR: Your communications of the 12th and 14th instant were received during my absence to Norfolk. I will direct the brick and coal to be sent to you. There are no marines to send to you. The guard of the Merrimack, now Virginia, takes all those in Norfolk. I have directed Lieutenant Parker, commanding the rendezvous, to supply the deficiencies in your crew as soon as possible.

By command of Secretary of Navy:

Respectfully, your obedient servant, FRANKLIN BUCHANAN, Captain, in Charge.


Order of the Chief of Office of Ordnance and Hydrography to Commander Tucker, C. S. Navy, commanding C.S.S. Patrick Henry, regarding shells for that vessel, transmitting information from the Inspector of ordnance at Norfolk.

OFFICE OF ORDNANCE AND HYDROGRAPHY, Richmond, Va., February 18, 1862.

SIR: Herewith you will receive a copy of a letter from Commander Fairfax in relation to the shells for rifled 32-pounders sent to City Point for the Patrick Henry.

It appears that Lieutenant Rochelle was misinformed when he stated to you that these shells had been condemned. You will therefore receive the shells on board and use them until others are supplied.

Please communicate this information to Lieutenants Commanding Barney and Webb.

Respectfully, your obedient servant, GEORGE MINOR., Commander, in Charge.

[Enclosure ]

ORDNANCE DEPARTMENT, C. S. NAVY YARD, Gosport [Norfolk], Va., February 15, 1862.

SIR: The 100 shells sent to the Patrick Henry via City Point were the very best we have, save those we are preparing for the Merrimack, which, if we have time, will be supplied with those fitted with Tennessee plates, or with heavy leaden packing, as near the Dahlgren pattern as the shells (already cast) will admit of.

The reports as to the results of various trials of the Reed shell, like those sent to the Patrick Henry, are so diverse as to leave us in doubt as to their accuracy. These shells have never, to my knowledge, been condemned. No one pretends that they are as good as either of the other kinds mentioned above, but as it must be some time before we can supply any others it might be well if Captain Tucker would try a few of them with 5 or 6 pound charges, as even their severest critic, Colonel Smith, said they would bear 5 pounds.

Only the scarcity of lead induced me to continue their manufacture after their trial, in comparison with the Dahlgren shell in August last, in which their range was deficient one-quarter of a mile at 22 degrees elevation, with 7 and 8 pound charges. It was also shown conclusively to my mind at that trial that they were not so strong as the others; but as some of each kind broke in or near the gun, other trials were waited for, which have since been made and have shown that where the edges of the wrought- iron cap were left as much as one-eighth of an inch thick they took and kept the rifle motion well. I have enquired as to the thickness of those in question and am informed that they are at least that thick. Many of those which were of less thickness at the edge of the saucer took the rifle motion. It will be remembered by the Bureau that we have been deterred from any experimental firing with rifle guns since August, till authorized by the Department to try the Merrimack guns and projectiles, by the scarcity of powder.

I would remind the Bureau that, in my letter to it of the 6th instant, I requested authority or the direct action of the Bureau to recall to this yard all the shells with leaden bands, having projecting flanges to fit the grooves of the rifle guns, for alteration. This has been proved necessary, by the melting of the lead by the charge in the gun, on such as did not nearly approach the Dahlgren pattern. This recommendation I repeat.

In conclusion, let me hope hereafter to escape the unworthy and undeserved charge of sending ammunition which has been condemned to any Confederate States vessel, or that I may be brought before the proper tribunal.

Respectfully, etc., A. B. FAIRFAX, Inspector of Ordnance.


Order of the Secretary of the navy of the Confederate States to Captain Buchanan, C. S. Navy, to proceed to the command of the James River defenses.

C.S. Navy Department, Richmond, February 24, 1862.

SIR: You are hereby detached from the Office of Orders and Detail and will proceed to Norfolk and report to Flag-Officer Forrest for the command of the naval defenses, James River.

You will hoist your flag on the Virginia, or any other vessel of your squadron, which will, for the present, embrace the Virginia, Patrick Henry, Jamestown, Teaser, Raleigh, and Beaufort.

The Virginia is a novelty in naval construction, is untried, and her powers unknown, and the Department will not give specific orders as to her attack upon the enemy. Her powers as a ram are regarded as very formidable, and it is hoped that you may be able to test them.

Like the bayonet charge of infantry, this mode of attack, while the most distinctive, will commend itself to you in the present scarcity of ammunition. It is one also that may be rendered destructive at night against the enemy at anchor.

Even without guns the ship would be formidable as a ram.

Could you pass Old Point and make a dashing cruise up the Potomac as far as Washington, its effect upon the public mind would be important to the cause.

The condition of our country, and the painful reverses we have just suffered, demand our utmost exertions, and convinced as I am that the opportunity and the means of striking a decided blow for our Navy are now for the first time presented, I congratulate you upon it, and know that your judgment and gallantry will meet all just expectations.

Action—prompt and successful action—now would be of serious importance to our cause, and with my earnest wishes for your success, and for the happiness of yourself, officers, and crew,

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, S. R. MALLORY, Secretary of Navy.


Letter from the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Major-General Huger, C. S. Army, commanding Department of Norfolk, regarding the detention of the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack) for lack of powder.

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, DOCKYARD, Gosport [Norfolk], February 27,1862.

GENERAL: The Virginia is now detained for powder. When it will arrive I am unable to say, and in the present exigency I write to suggest that if you feel authorized to make the transfer from Forts Norfolk and Nelson of the necessary ammunition, it would relieve us greatly and add materially, in my judgment, to the strength of our front and left flank defenses. When the powder for the ship arrives, it will be delivered, or so much as required, to you, to replace that which you may be able to spare me to meet the present emergencies.

Very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag-Officer and Commandant.


Letter from the commandant navy yard, Norfolk, to Colonel Anderson, C. S. Army,  regarding the amount of powder required by the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack).

COMMANDANT'S OFFICE' DOCKYARD, Gosport [Norfolk], February 28, 1862.

COLONEL: In reply to your communication of the 27th, I have to inform you that I consider it of vital importance that the Virginia be furnished with as much powder as you can possibly spare.

I require 18,000 pounds, of which I have received 1,000 from Richmond.

The quantity you can furnish will be wanted at once, as it will take three days to fill the ship's cartridge bags. The Messenger is instructed to wait for your reply..  

Very respectfully, F. FORREST, Flag-Officer and Commandant.


Letter from the Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States to Flag Officer Buchanan, C. S. Navy, commanding naval defenses, James River, suggesting the attack by the C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimack) upon New York City.

Confidential.] C. S. NAVY DEPARTMENT, Richmond, March 7, 1862.

SIR: I submit for your consideration the attack of New York by the Virginia. Can the Virginia steam to New York and attack and burn the city? She can, I doubt not, pass Old Point safely, and, in good weather and a smooth sea, could doubtless go to New York. Once in the bay, she could shell and burn the city and the shipping. Such an event would eclipse all the glories of the combats of the sea, would place every man in it preeminently high, and would strike a blow from which the enemy could never recover. Peace would inevitably follow. Bankers would withdraw their capital from the city. The Brooklyn, [New York] navy yard and its magazines and all the lower part of the city would be destroyed, and such an event, by a single ship, would do more to achieve our immediate independence than would the results of many campaigns.

Can the ship go there? Please give me your views.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, S. R. MALLORY, Secretary of the Navy.

Sources:
Library of Congress

       


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