Mail-Clad Steamers

EXPOSED as we are to treason at home and jealousy abroad, it becomes the policy as well as the duty of our country to prepare with promptitude for every contingency by availing itself of all improvements in the art of war. Superior weapons double, the courage and efficiency of our troops, carry dismay to the foe, and diminish the cost and delays of warfare. The match-lock and the field-piece in their rudest form triumphed over the shield, the spear, and the javelin, while the long-bow, once so formidable, is now rarely drawn, except by those who cater for sensation-journals. The kind’s-arm and artillery of the last war cannot stand before the Minié rifle and Whitworth cannon any more than the sickle can keep pace with the McCormick reaper, or the slow coach with the railway-car or the telegraph. Mail-clad steamers, impervious to shells and red-hot balls, and almost, if not quite, invulnerable by solid shot and balls from rifled cannon at the distance of a hundred yards, have been launched upon the deep, and already form an important part of the navies of France and England. They have been adopted by Russia, Austria, and Spain ; and yet, although our country furnishes iron which has no superior,—although it has taken the lead in the steamship, the telegraph, and the railway, —although at this moment it requires the mail-clad steamer more than any other nation, to relieve its fortresses, to recover the cotton ports, and to defend its great cities from foreign aggression, not a single one has yet been launched, or even been authorized by Congress, For years we have had no more efficient Secretary of the Navy, or more able and energetic chiefs of the bureaus, if we may judge from what has already been accomplished ; but it depends on Congress to give the proper authority to construct a mailclad navy, and to provide the necessary funds.

The importance of defensive armor has ever been felt. The warriors of ancient times went to the field in coats-of-mail, and both Homer and Virgil dilate upon the exquisite carving of the shield. The hauberk and corselet were used by the Crusaders, and the chain-armor of Milan was nearly or quite impervious to the sword and spear. Mexico and Peru were won in great part by coats-of-mail. They were used until gunpowder changed the whole course of war, — and the Chevalier Bayard, that knight ”sans peur et sans reproche” who had borne himself bravely and almost without a sear in a hundred battles, in his last Italian campaign, as he was borne from the field, after being struck down by a cannon-ball, mourned that the days of Chivalry were ended. And Shakspeare tells us that this villanous saltpetre had prevented at least one sensitive gentleman from being a soldier.

Defensive armor is still used by tribes who are destitute of powder; and Barth and Barkie, in their African expeditions, found Moorish horsemen pressing down from the North into the interior of the Soudan, arrayed in coats-of-mail of the same description with that which figured in the Crusades.

In the naval contests of the last century armed ships were inferior in size to those of modern times, and their tough oak sides were not easily pierced by the sixand nine-pound balls then in general use, and twelve-pounders were considered of unusual dimension. During the war between France and America, a merchantman, armed with nine-pounders, actually beat off a sloop-of-war and several Spanish privateers; but now frigates, and even sloops-of-war, are armed with Dahlgren guns of eightto eleveninch bore, which throw balls of sixty to one hundred pounds,— also with superior rifled cannon. Whitworth and Armstrong guns are in use that throw shot or shell distances of three to five miles, which " the wooden walls " of neither England nor America are able to resist.

We have recently seen the Freeborn, the Pawnee, and the Harriet Lane, when assailing the rebel batteries on the James and the Potomac, compelled to take positions at the distance of two miles, and to keep constantly moving, and compelled consequently to throw away most of their costly ammunition in uncertain shots, at the same time that they were constantly exposed to shots which might destroy their engines and explode their boilers. There was no lack of courage on the part of their gallant officers; but, from the insufficiency of the vessels, they were obliged to use a wise discretion, and to take all reasonable precautions for the safety of their ships, so important and yet so inadequate to the service of the country. And when Fort Sumter was about to fall, and when a single shot-proof gun-boat could have defied the rebel batteries, and without the loss of a man have conveyed to the fortress stores for six months and a whole battalion of troops, that single gun-boat,— a mere gun-boat, which need not have passed within one thousand yards of any batteries on her way, — could not be commanded by the Government, and the gallant Anderson was compelled to lower to treason that flag whose fall has aroused the nation to arms.

The earliest experiments upon the power of iron plate to resist the force of cannon-balls appear to have been made in France by M. de Montgery, an officer in the French navy, as far back as 1810. He proposed to cover the sides of ships with several plates of iron, of the aggregate thickness of four inches, which he alleged would resist the force of any projectile. But Napoleon had not confidence in his navy ; he had lost the battles of the Nile and Trafalgar; ever successful on the land, his ships had been swept by Nelson from the deep; and he had neither time nor disposition to investigate new plans for the restoration of the navy, or even to take up Fulton’s new discovery. It was reserved for the third Napoleon to develop the original idea of a Frenchman, and thus to place France on the sea nearly or quite upon a footing with England.

Some twelve years later, General Paixhans, who gave his name to the large guns of modern times, (although their prior invention was claimed by the late Colonel Bomford,) again commended platearmor for ships to his Government; but his advice was not then adopted.

With the improvement of cannon the importance of plate-armor became more and more apparent; and at length Mr. Stevens, under the sanction of our Government, instituted a series of experiments upon iron plates, and soon after commenced building an immense floating battery for the defence of New York, at Hoboken, which is still unfinished, but which, it is rumored, will, if Congress appropriates the means, be completed the present season.

Stevens was the first to carry out the idea of a mail-clad steamer; and it is alone due to the apathy of the late Administration, which has neglected our navy while indulging in its Southern proclivities, that our nation has not the honor of launching the first steamer in a coat-of-mail. The frame, however, of such a vessel has been long in place, the hull is nearly complete, the engines are far advanced, and the finishing stroke may soon be given.

Stevens, in the course of his experiments, made the important discovery, that a single plate of boiler-iron, five-eighths of an inch in thickness, and weighing less than twenty-five pounds to the superficial foot,1 when nailed to the side of a ship, was impenetrable by shell and red-hot shot, the two missiles most dangerous to wooden walls. When a solid shot strikes the side of a wooden ship, it passes in and usually stops before it reaches the opposite side. The fibres of the wood yield and close up behind it, and it often happens, from the reunion of the fibres, that it is difficult to find the place perforated by the ball, and if found, it is often easy to remedy the injury by a simple plug. But if a red-hot shot enter the ship, it may imbed itself in the wood or coils of cordage or sails, or reach the magazine, and thus destroy the whole structure, while the shell may explode within the ship and carry destruction to both men and vessel. If, then, the iron-plate had answered no other purpose, the discovery by Stevens of its capacity to resist the two most formidable weapons of his day would alone have been of great value to the country ; but he went farther, and demonstrated by actual construction the idea of Montgery, that successive plates of iron would resist the cold spherical shot thrown by the best artillery, and his floating battery or frigate is protected by plate within plate of iron armor.

While our Government slept upon its unfinished frigate, and forgot the honor and interest of the country in the lap of the siren of the South, — of that South which sixty years since broke down the navy of John Adams, and left us to encounter the embargo and war with England without a navy, or, at most, with a few frigates which sufficed to show what the navy of Adams might have effected,— the honor of launching the first iron-clad steamer, the Gloire, was resigned to the French. The first Napoleon made the army of France the best in Europe, if not in the world ; the third, while he maintains the standing of the army, aspires to give the same position to her navy.

In 1854, Napoleon, who had long studied the art of war, and during his stay in New York had doubtless seen or heard of the floating battery, determined to construct two such batteries, and accordingly built the Lave and Tonnerre. With one of these, the Lave, during the Russian War, he assailed and destroyed in the brief space of one hour the strong fortress of Kinburn, near Sebastopol ; and in striking contrast to this success, a large British steamship, heavily armed, but constructed of wood, was actually captured near Odessa by a small party of Russians with two or three thirty-two pounders worked through a gap in an embankment.

The invulnerable battery of France anchored close under the fortress. Before its cannon, granite walls are shivered into fragments most dangerous to the gunners, while the shells, burying themselves two or three feet deep in the brickwork, by their explosion shake the walls to pieces. Iron, protected by iron, triumphed over both bricks and granite, which had defied the fleet of England.

The Emperor was not slow to realize the result of the problem he had solved. He at once proceeded to test the strength of the best kinds of plate made in his dominions, and found, by actual trial, that plates of the best iron, but four and three-fourths inches in thickness, were able, to resist repeated shocks of solid balls fired at the distance of twenty metres (less than four rods) from his sixty-eightpounders, and from rifled guns throwing shot of nearly the same calibre, —and this, too, when the balls were impelled by more than one-fourth their weight of powder. But. ships rarely engage at such close quarters either with vessels or fortresses, and the effect of the ball is greatly diminished by distance, a single inch plate sufficing to stop a spherical shot at a long distance.

As the result of these experiments, the Emperor proceeded to construct the Gloire, an iron-clad frigate, which has been completed, has made several voyages, been tried in a severe gale, for nearly a year has been the pride of the French navy, and has recently run from Toulon to Algiers in the brief space of sixty-six hours.

The Gloire is a steam-frigate cased in five-inch plates; she is two hundred and fifty feet in length by twenty-one in width, mounts thirty-eight rifled fifty-pounders, is moved by engines of nine hundred horsepower, is manned by six hundred men, has a speed of twelve and a half knots, and a capacity for five days’ coal,— a capacity which might be easily increased by a little more breadth of beam, but which is sufficient for a passage to Algiers, or along the coast of Spain, England, or Italy. This vessel is considered invulnerable by balls discharged from rifled cannon at the distance of four hundred yards.

Encouraged by his continued success, the Emperor at once ordered the construction of nine such frigates, several of which are already finished. He has since ordered ten more iron-eased frigates and gun-boats, which are now in course of construction. Before the present season closes, his iron navy will be composed of twenty steamships and four floating batteries.

During the contest with Russia, England would not venture to expose her wooden ships of the line to the close fire of the batteries either at Cronstadt or Sebastopol, and found it safer to shell them at a respectful distance and with indifferent success. She was deeply impressed, however, with the performance of the Lave and Tonnerre at Kin burn, and seriously disturbed by the completion of the great naval station at Cherbourg, armed with more than three hundred cannon and directly opposite her coast.

England at first sought to meet the new invention by improved artillery, and produced the Whitworth and Armstrong cannon, which have a range of four to five miles. With these she practised at short distances upon targets of strong oaken plank faced with iron plates of four to five inches in diameter, but found the plates impervious to balls, and vulnerable only by steel bolts of small diameter, fired at short distances from Whitworth and Armstrong cannon,— bolts so small that the wounds they made in the frames faced with iron usually closed or did little mischief. A few plates of inferior iron occasionally gave way after repeated assaults, for English iron is coarsely made and poorly welded,— a striking illustration of which may be found in a part of the hull of the ill-fated steamer Connaught, which is preserved at the ship-yard near Dorchester Point, South Boston.

England was at length convinced; she determined that she could not safely permit the Emperor of the French to rule the sea with his iron navy. She had not forgotten St. Helena. She realized that she had no fleet that could safely encounter one of his mail-clad warriors, and found herself obliged to copy the new invention. She commenced last year ten iron-clad ships of the line, and has nearly or quite finished the Warrior, Black Prince, Defiance, and Resistance, while others are progressing. But she could not tamely copy FranceInstead of confining herself to the length of the Gloire, she is constructing vessels of immense size. The Warrior, recently launched, is four hundred and twenty-six feet in length, nearly fifty-two feet in depth, has a width of fifty-eight feet, measures six thousand one hundred and seventy-seven tons, and is moved by engines of twelve hundred horse-power. She is to mount thirty-six cannon of the largest class, and her armor weighs nine hundred tons.

This vessel will be a formidable antagonist upon the open sea ; but her great depth, with the weight of her armor, causes her to draw thirty feet, which would prohibit her entrance into most of the seaports upon our coast. She is vulnerable, too, at each extremity. Her iron plates, four and a half inches thick, extend but half her length, leaving more than a hundred feet at each end covered by a plate of only five-eighths of an inch in thickness ; and in case these portions should be injured, she must rely upon her water-tight compartments. An adroit foe, in alight craft of greater speed, avoiding her batteries, which are planted behind her armor, might possibly assail her unprotected ends, and, although he could not sink her, still, by shot between wind and water, he might render her more unwieldy and less manageable,— a weight of water being thus admitted which would bring down the ship so as to endanger her lower ports and prevent the use of them in action, He might thus also prevent her approach to shoal water. The Warrior and her companions are, however, formidable ships, and in deep water, with ample sea-room, must be most powerful antagonists.

The importance attached by England to mail-clad steamers may be inferred from the debates in the House of Lords on the 11th and 14th of June, 1861, in which it was officially stated that the Government had not authorized the construction of a single wooden three-decker since 1855, nor one wooden two-decker since 1859. although it had launched a few upon the stocks for the purpose of clearing the yards, — and that it now contemplated cutting down a number of the largest wooden Steamships of the line, for the purpose of plating them with iron, while it was constructing nothing but iron ships, except a few light despatch frigates, corvettes, and gun-boats.

In the same debate it was stated that bolts of steel had been forced by improved Armstrong cannon through an eightinch mail composed of iron bars dovetailed together ; but the quality of the iron and the mode of fastening were both questioned. These experiments; did not deter the Government from constructing mail-clad steamships. Indeed, it must be obvious that the great cost of Armstrong cannon, fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars each, together with the cost of steel bolts, combined with the fact that this description of cannon is easily shattered, if struck by a ball from the adversary, must long prevent its introduction into use ; and should it eventually succeed, it must prove far more destructive to wooden walls than to iron-clad vessels.

It has, however, been urged in England against iron ships of all descriptions, but more as a theory than as an ascertained fact, that a solid shot would make a large and irregular aperture, if it entered the side of a vessel, and a much larger orifice as it passed out on the opposite side. To this theory, however, there are two answers : first, that a solid ball can neither enter nor pass out of the sides of a mailclad steamer; second, that, when it enters a common iron ship, there is evidence that it does less damage than would be suffered by a wooden vessel. Captain Charlewood, of the Royal Navy, who recently commanded the iron frigate Guadaloupe in the service of Mexico, testified before a Committee of the British Parliament, that “his ship was under fire almost daily for four or five months,” that “ the damage by shot was considerably less than that usually suffered by a wooden vessel, and that there was nothing like the number of splinters which are generally forced out by a shot, sent through a wooden vessel’s side”; that “ the vessel was hulled once in the mid ship part at about one thousand yards,” and the effect was “that the shot passed through the iron, making a round hole in the iron”; “that at two feet below water” another shot passed through the vessel’s side and one or two casks of provisions, and that the hole was simply plugged by the engineer at the time.” He testified also that none of the shot disturbed any rivets. His evidence is the more valuable as it relates lo an inferior vessel, whose plates were probably not more than half an inch thick.

The testimony of Captain W. H. Hall, R. N., in command of the iron frigate Nemesis, in the Chinese war, was still more conclusive in favor of iron. He stated, “ that in one action the Nemesis was hit fourteen times,” and that one shot “ went in at one side and came out at the other, and there were no splinters; in case of that shot, it went through just as if you put your finger through a piece of paper: nothing could have been more easily stopped than I could have stopped that shot, in the Nemesis”; that “several wooden steamers were employed in that service, and they were invariably obliged to lie up for repairs, whilst I could repair the Nemesis in twenty-four hours and have her always ready for service.” The Nemesis was a common iron steamer, and not a mail-clad steamship.

As respects the strength and durability of these steamers, although accidents have occurred from defective materials, it is in proof that the Tyne and Great. Britain ran ashore and remained for months exposed to the open sea without going to pieces, and were finally rescued,— that the Persia struck on an iceberg, filled one of her compartments with water, and came safe to port,— that the North America and Edinburgh went at full speed upon the rocks near Cape Race and yet escaped,— and that the Sarah Sands, while transporting troops to India, took fire, that in consequence the interior and contents of one of her compartments were entirely consumed, that her magazine exploded, and that she then encountered a ten days’ gale, and after this exposure to such a Series of calamities she reached her port without losing one of her crew or passengers.

The ambition of England to maintain her ascendancy upon the deep has led her to disregard the advice of her Defence Commissioners, who recommended a different class of mail-clad steamers, to measure but two thousand tons and to draw but sixteen feet of water, — a class admirably adapted to the sea-ports and requirements of the United States. And singular as it may appear, by some coincidence at a moment when our country requires this class of steamers, the enterprise of Boston is completing two iron steamers whose dimensions and draught of water conform to the recommendation of the British Commissioners, — steamers which are nearly ready for launching, but which, if they can receive, before they leave the stocks, additional plates of iron, would doubtless prove the most useful and efficient mail-clad vessels which have yet been constructed.

The stranger who would inspect these beautiful vessels may seat himself at almost any hour of the day in the ears at the foot of Summer Street, and in twenty minutes find himself at a point a little north of the Perkins Asylum for the Blind. A walk of five minutes more will bring him to a secluded yard sloping gently towards the water, where he will find extensive of offices, and two large buildings which cover the vessels upon the stocks.

As he approaches these structures, he will notice many plates of superior iron from the rolling-mills of Baltimore, combining the toughness and strength and other excellences of the best Pennsylvania iron ; he will notice, too, immense ribs and beams of iron, and hear the incessant din of hammers riveting the sides and boilers.

Under each of these sheds he will find an iron steamship, two hundred and seventy-five feet in length by twenty-three in depth, exquisitely proportioned; he will be struck by the fine entrance and run. The extreme sharpness of the stem and stern, combined with great capacity, seems to answer every requirement; and he will he surprised to learn that the draught of these steamers is but sixteen feet when deeply laden, and that their engines of thirteen hundred horse-power are expected to give them a speed of fifteen knots per hour. When they reach their destined element and have received their lading, the height from the waterline to the deck will be but seven feet; hence it is apparent that a belt of iron plates carried around them of eight feet four inches in height would protect them from the deck to a point sixteen inches below the water-line, or from the bottom of the deck-beams to a point two feet below the water-line.

The iron plates which form the sides of these ships range in thickness from one inch below the water-line to threefourths of an inch above it. And if we allow for the superior strength and toughness of American iron, an additional plate of three inches in thickness would suffice to give them more strength than that of either the French or English mail-clad steamers.

By careful computation we have ascertained that each vessel might be encircled by such plates, weighing but one hundred and twenty pounds per superficial foot, and have her bulwarks plated also, without adding more than three hundred tons to her weight,— actually’ less than one-third of the cargo she was designed to carry. With an extra planking within, and an armament of twentyfour rifled fifty-pounders or Whitworth cannon, and select crews, such vessels need fear no antagonists upon the deep. Low in the hull, they would offer but little surface to the fire of the enemy, and their sides would be impervious to shot and shell. Beneath the decks they could carry in safety a whole regiment of troops. Selecting their position by superior speed, they could destroy a fleet of wooden steamers or ships-ot-the-line. Entering any of our large seaports, they could pass the fortress at the entrance uninjured, and lay cities under contribution, or destroy their ports, without being, like Achilles, or the English "Warrior,” vulnerable in the heel.

When such steamers come into general use, we shall hear no more of the wooden walls of Greece or England, or of those modern platforms which had not a stick of sound oak timber in them, — nothing, indeed, but pitch-pine and cypress. Oak, pine, and cypress would fall into the same category, when contrasted with the imperishable iron. Some new agency of steel must be invented to cope with the adamantine iron. And it becomes our Government, both for the armament of our ships and for defence against iron steamers, to adopt at the earliest moment every improvement in rifled cannon.

The Navy Department has recently put under contract seven steamships and several steam gun-boats. They have intrusted the latter to some of the ablest ship-builders of the country, and it is well understood that most of these vessels are to be completed the present season. This measure, as far as it goes, is eminently wise ; but our navy must still be below the requirements of the nation, and entirely disproportioned to the extent both of our commerce and of our sea-coast. At a low estimate, our country requires an additional supply of at least six mailclad steam frigates, twelve steam sloopsof-war, and twelve steam gun-boats, with similar armor. It will require also for long voyages and distant stations a dozen steam frigates of wood, and as many steam sloops-of-war, like the best now in our service ; and, with the materials and armament now on hand, an outlay of twentyfive or thirty millions well applied may suffice for the construction of the whole. With such a provision we need feel no solicitude as to the intervention of England or France in our domestic affairs.

The lighter steamships of wood will answer for long voyages to the Mediterranean, the coast of Africa, India, and the Pacific, and will protect our grain, flour, and corn, on their way from the West to Europe. Our iron steamers will defend our commercial cities from attack or blockade ; they will level all rebel batteries on the waters of the Chesapeake; they can batter down the fortresses of the Southern coast, and restore to commerce the ports of Charleston, Savannah, Pensacola, Mobile, Apalachicola, New Orleans, and Galveston.

Most fortunately for our country, at a moment when we cannot immediately command the live oak of Georgia and Florida, the oak plank of Virginia, or the yellow pine of the Carolinas, we have the most abundant supplies of iron easily accessible, and now, relieved from the demands of railways and factories, ready for the construction of our iron navy, The iron plates of Pennsylvania and Maryland in strength and toughness know no superior. The iron mountain near St. Louis and the mines on Lake Champlain furnish also an article of great purity and excellence. But, choice as are these deposits of iron, they are all surpassed by the more recent discoveries on Lake Superior, now opened by the ship-canal at the Straits of St. Mary. There Nature has stored an inexhaustible amount of the richest iron ore, free from sulphur, phosphorus, arsenic, and other deleterious substances, protruding above the surface of hillocks and underlying the country for miles in extent. This ore is of the specular and magnetic kind, yields sixty-five per cent of iron of remarkable purity, is easily mined and transported to the Lake, and is shipped in vast quantities to the ports of Lake Erie, where it meets the coal of Ohio. At least ten companies are now engaged in its shipment, which has progressed thus far with great rapidity, doubling every year. The shipments from Lake Superior, in 1858, were thirty thousand five hundred and twenty-seven tons; in 1859, eighty thousand tons; in 1860, one hundred and fifty thousand tons. So great are the magnetic powers of this iron, that, buried as it was in the depths of the forest and beneath the surface, of the earth, it disturbed the compasses of the United States surveyors while engaged in the survey of Northern Michigan. For a time their needle would not work, and they were obliged temporarily to suspend their operations. Their embarrassment led to the discovery of those vast deposits of ore. It is now mingled with the inferior ore of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and extensively wrought.

Our nation has strong motives to induce it to construct an iron navy.

First. The adoption of such a navy by the great powers of Europe,—England and France, — followed by Russia, Austria. and Spain. Our commerce will be in danger, if they once, acquire the power of assailing us with impunity.

Second. Our urgent want of this class of vessels to recover our fortresses, repel blockades, and reopen our Southern ports, without wearisome sieges, costly both in blood and treasure.

Third. Our inability to command our customary supplies of durable timber.

Fourth. The abundance of iron, unrivalled in any part of the world.

Fifth. The durability of the ships constructed from iron. If well manned and piloted, they will seldom need repairs; and instead of failing, as many ships do in the sixth year, and requiring vast expenditures to discharge and dismantle them for the renewal of the decaying timber, plank, copper, and other materials, often amounting in the aggregate to more than their original cost, the mail-clad steamers built of American iron will outlive successive races of wooden steamships. The iron such a navy would require will put many idle hands in motion, which would otherwise be unproductive during war, — the miners of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, the colliers of Ohio and Pennsylvania, the mariners of the Lakes, the navigators of canals, and the operatives of railways, down to the brawny smiths who fashion the metal into shapes, — until their combined efforts launch it upon the deep, and send it forth to

“ dare the very elements to strife.”

How much better would it be to create such an iron navy than to expend million after million on wooden walls that must soon perish by decay or the shells of the enemy, or to lavish three or four millions upon the conversion of our superannuated ships-of-the-line into steamships ! These, when converted, will still retain their age and constant tendency to decay, their models long since abandoned, their original design, height of decks, and other proportions adapted to the eighteenand twenty-four-pounders formerly in use, which are now giving place to Dahlgren and rifled cannon carrying balls of sixtyfour to one hundred pounds weight. Such an expenditure would be like an essay to convert a Tankee shingle-palace, such as Irving described half a century ago, into a modern villa, and reminds one of a proposition made to an assembly some twenty centuries since, which still has its significance.

An orator had proposed to convert an old politician into a general; but a citizen moved an amendment to convert donkeys into horses, and when the possibility of doing so was questioned, argued that the horses were necessary for the war, and that his measure was as feasible as the other.

To prepare our nation for war, let us select the Enfield rifle, the Colt revolver, the rifled and cast-steel cannon, the mailclad steamer, and not resort to flint arrow-heads and tomahawks, or to any other fossil remains of antiquity. The policy of creating an iron navy has been repeatedly urged of late in the foreign journals. It has also been advocated with signal ability by Donald McKay of Boston, one of our most eminent naval constructors, who, after building the Great Republic, the Flying Cloud, and a fleet of other celebrated clippers, has visited the dockyards of France and England, examined their mail-clad ships upon the stocks and those already finished. Although himself accustomed to work on wood, and a candidate for employment as builder of some of our wooden gun-boats, with great frankness as well as boldness he urges the construction of mail-clad steamers. We trust Congress will no longer neglect so important a means of protecting our national prosperity.

  1. Sheet-iron plates of one inch in thickness weigh forty pounds per superficial foot.