Sunday, August 7, 2016

Gustavus V. Fox to John M. Forbes, November 22, 1862

Navy Department, November 22, 1862.

Dear Sir, — . . . As to our defenses, I believe this is about the truth. The Alabama can be kept out by our present forts. She is doing a better business, with less risk, than attacking Boston. No forts can keep out ironclads. We must have obstructions easily raised. There are no big guns to spare. Parties cannot make guns who are not experienced. We have started half a dozen new foundries in New England the last year, and got only one good gun. Any man for a year past, and now, who wishes a contract for big guns can have it. No one has ever been refused. As to ironclads it is the same. Every one is invited and has been, and no one capable of doing the work has been refused. So with marine engines. We will build a vessel for every party who will take an engine. Washington is reported to have said, “In peace, prepare for war.” We didn't, and here we are. It is of no use to sacrifice anybody; we are caught unprepared, and must pay for it. . . . We are building some wooden-bottom turret ships in the navy yards to carry four 15-inch guns. We fired the 15-inch gun at nine inches of iron. It did not penetrate, but it shook the whole affair nearly to pieces. We are in the hands of the contractors, who are doing all they can, but it is far short of public expectation. In the mean time, if harbor obstructions are not provided, our cities are not safe against ironclads.

SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 1, p. 340-1

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