Civil War Iron Clad Story in Harper's Weekly

 

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Harper's Weekly Description of New Iron Clad Civil War Warships

The February 9, 1861 Edition of Harper's Weekly

Biographies of Seceding Alabama Delegation | Civil War News, February 9, 1861 | Captain Foster News Article | Iowa Indian Agency | Secession News | Louisiana Secession | Confederate State House, Montgomery Alabama | Vicksburg During Civil War | Vicksburg, Mississippi Civil War News | Civil War Iron Clads | Civil War Iron Clad Story in Harper's Weekly | Civil War Slave Cartoon

 

 

 

FEBRUARY 9, 1861.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

93

(Continued from Previous Page) upper deck she is to have ten more mounted, making an armament of forty-eight heavy 68-pounders in all. Under many circumstances of naval warfare, the twenty-two uncovered guns (uncovered, that is, with thick plates) could be used with terrible effect—in the event, for instance, of her falling in with La Gloire on one of those rough days when the ports of the latter were of necessity shut and her guns idle. It should be further stated, that the guns of the Warrior could be fought with greater ease and rapidity, and with less exhaustion to the men, than those of La Gloire, because of the less crowded state of her deck. We do not know the exact height of the latter ship between decks; but we know that it is comparatively little, and that her guns are but 11 feet 6 inches apart; whereas the Warrior has a clear height of 6 feet 6 inches on her gun-deck, between the deck and the beams above, and her guns are no less than 15 feet 6 inches apart. The advantage in time of action of this spaciousness of the fighting-deck will be best understood by those who have fought ships oftenest.

"The enormous dimensions of the Warrior must have excited surprise in many minds. Although but a 36-gun, or, at the most, a 48-gun ship, she is no less than 380 feet long (420 feet over all), 58 feet broad, 26 feet draught of water, and of 6050 tons burden. Why, the general reader may well ask, has so large, and therefore so costly,* a ship been adopted? The short answer is, that the desirable qualities she possesses could not have been obtained with less proportions. Let us briefly explain why. The great primary quality demanded was a speed superior, by at least a knot or two, to that of La Gloire.

"Again, high speed had to be attained in combination with a shot-proof hull. Had not the proposal to leave the ends of the ship uncased been thought of, this combination would have been practically impossible, except with far greater dimensions than even the Warrior's; because the enormous weight of the armor would have required a corresponding displacement to support it; and this again would have needed still larger and heavier engines to drive the ship through the water. But even with her fine ends uncased, an immense weight of iron has to be supported. And this weight has not, as some suppose, been determined, in the case of the Warrior, by the number of guns which were to be carried. For, let it be understood, there is much more than the guns and gunners to be protected. In the Warrior, the engines and boilers, the magazines, shell-rooms, spirit-rooms—all the stores, in fact, that it would be dangerous to expose either to fire or to water—are placed within the shelter of the armor plates. The engines and boilers alone occupy a length of 159 feet. Here, then, we see at once that a considerable length of shot-proof side becomes requisite. That a great height of it is also necessary will be seen from the facts, first: that the ports must (as previously explained) be considerably elevated ; next, that the plating must be continued down a few feet below the water-line, in order to prevent shots entering just beneath the sea's surface, or lower down when the ship is in a sea-way, or heeling under a wind; and, finally, that the armor must be carried up well above the heads of the gunners, in order to protect them properly. Further, this long and high shot-proof side has to be, from the very nature of the case, a heavy side. It consists of an ordinary (but unusually strong) iron ship's hull, out-side of which are placed in opposite directions two layers of teak timber, one of 10 inches thick and the other of 8 inches, and upon the outside of this mass of timber 4f-inch iron plates are secured.

"After lengthened investigations, it was found by the designers that the iron-cased portion of the ship required to be at least 205 feet long, and that the two extremities could not satisfactorily be made less than 175 feet ; giving a total length of 380 feet, or, when the projecting head and over-hanging stern are added, 420 feet in all. Just within the limits of her armor, and 205 feet apart, are placed two bulk-heads, or walls, extending completely across the ship, and formed almost as stoutly as her sides. They are plated externally with 4 1/2-inch plates of iron, which extend down 9 feet below the water-line, in order that shot or shell entering the bow or stern may not pass them. As the exposed ends of the ship could not, with safety, be formed of timber, it was thought desirable to build her throughout of iron, and to make her a solid and complete structure independently of the armor-plates and their timber backing.

" Very mistaken views are held, as to the probable action of shot and shell upon her uncased extremities, by persons who have studied the Warrior's construction but imperfectly. In the first place, it should be understood that no apprehension of the ship there sustaining serious injury from the fire of shells need be entertained. The sides are all of iron ; the beams are of iron ; and thin iron decks are laid over the beams. The only combustible materials ex-posed are the plank coverings of the iron deck, and such little matters of ship furniture as may be deemed indispensable. The officers' cabins will be in the after-part of the ship, it is true, and the men's messes in the fore-part ; but with the ship herself of iron, and with well-devised appliances for extinguishing such local ignition as may happen, it will be scarcely possible for fire to make progress in her. But even if it should, the main body of the ship will be perfectly proof to it ; for within the plated bulkheads, and 2 feet from them, are placed inner iron bulkheads, and the spaces between are used as water compartments, so that vertical sheets of water, 2 feet thick, intervene between the body of the ship and her extremities : through these it would be impossible for fire to make its way. In the next place, there is no good ground for believing that shot will do much injury to the ship's extremities; except to the rudder and after sternpost, perhaps: these are the weak points in the Warrior, as in all other screw ships of war, notwithstanding that they have in her case been made enormously strong and heavy, for the express purpose of resisting solid shot. To suppose that any number of shot which a ship is likely to receive in action would knock either the bow or stern of such a ship as the Warrior to pieces, and leave the cased portion only afloat, would be to manifest great ignorance of the strength with which she is built throughout."

THE FAN.

SOME seventy years ago no name stood higher in commercial repute at Havre than that of Duravel. The founder of the house had just died at the time when we commence the story ; but though the designation was altered from " Claude Duravel awl Sons" to " Duravel Brothers," public trust was unshaken, even by envious conjecture. For Claude, the elder of the two sons, had for some years managed the business, and nothing could exceed the caution, and withal enterprise, of the transactions of the house under his direction, save the uniform and splendid fortune which illustrated them.

The two brothers resided in the same house, a large and grandiose hotel, situated in a garden profusely adorned with statues, bath-houses, balustrades, and fountains, in the Italian style, and called after their name. For four years after the father's death they continued unmarried. No differences were ever reported to have taken place between them. But things were not destined to flow long in this quiet course. One evening, at a public ball given to celebrate the most brilliant victory of the First Consul, Jerome was introduced to a certain Madame Corisande de Cardillac, who had lately appeared in the gay circles of Havre. Rumor, "painted full of tongues," told strange stories of the lady's career in the capital. Certain it was she dressed magnificently, coquetted mercilessly, played extravagantly, and consequently was the last person with whom a prudent man of business should have connected himself; but no less certain was the fact, that within six weeks

* The Warrior will probably cost, a hen complete, £350,000.

from the Marengo ball she was married, with the consent and approbation of Claude, to Jerome Duravel....The explanation of the puzzling words which we have put in italics is short and simple. The elder brother "consented and approved," be-cause he could not help himself, for Jerome had no sooner made the acquaintance of the all-fascinating Corisande than he began to play largely. The circle into which he was introduced consisted of reckless men of pleasure. He was elated with the lavish flattery which they bestowed upon him, and tempted to stake enormous sums on the spinning of the roulette ball, or the hazard of the cards at lansquenet. At first the result was in-variably the same. The friends of Corisande al-ways lost, and the merchant always won. After a while the lack changed, and after the change it set in so uniformly against the merchant that he grew desperate. Then the lady herself came to the rescue, and undertook to play for him. As if by magic, the rouleaux of gold and the piles of notes passed over to her side of the table. In short, the conflict was the old one of practice and craft against ignorance and simplicity, and the former as usual won. Though she had at first, however, undertaken to play for him, the merchant was not richer for his handsome partner's gains. His petitions for his own winnings were of necessity- made with a smile, and were adroitly laughed off as jests. The appetite of the Parisian for costly presents was insatiable, and Jerome found him-self hopelessly involved, and after a little equivocation and evasion confessed the whole truth to Claude. At that moment, for the first time for thirty years, the house was in a critical position. Money was of great importance. One plan alone appeared feasible. The lost wealth might be re-gained by an alliance with the winner of it, so Corisande was married "with the consent and approbation" of Claude to Jerome Duravel.

But the partner who had once tasted of the rapture of hazard was not to be bound down again to the comparatively tardy work of legitimate traffic. The elder brother had exacted a pledge from him that he should never enter a gambling-house, or stake more than a certain conventional number of

francs on a game of cards ; but all this foresight was in vain ; the wily Madame Duravel acquiesced readily enough in these arrangements, and even advised the elder brother to insist on taking from the younger the security of the promise, but the subject-matter of their operations only was changed. The funds were substituted for the cards. Instead of gambling they speculated   

To the cold and calculating temper of the wife the most monstrous risks hardly gave any excitement. The agonies of expectation, the reactions of wild hope and profound despair, inflamed the impetuous temper of the husband like fiery wine. Under false names and through numerous agents they bought in and sold out of the funds, and for some time the star of Corisande was in the ascend-ant ; but, after a while, the narrow and scarcely perceptible which separates enterprise from rashness was crossed. They ventured more and more recklessly. Failure succeeded failure. The politics of the day were full of surprises. A superstitious trust in the fortune of Napoleon had been al-most the only guiding principle in Corisande's creed, but long after this was proved fallacious the devotee clung to her faith. Meanwhile, entirely ignorant of the events which were happening under his eyes, Claude Duravel continued to attend regularly at his office, to direct the legitimate transactions of the firm; to dictate its foreign correspondence, and to watch the fidelity of its servants.

So things slipped on for five years, all externally calm and secure ; but in that time none can tell the strange vicissitudes of anxiety and exultation through which Jerome passed!

 

Suddenly, one morning, in the October of 1804, a strange and startling report spread over Havre! It was caught up, and passed like lightning from mouth to mouth. All was uncertainty and conjecture, but one fact — Monsieur Claude Duravel had disappeared, and was nowhere to be found. The authorities, and the missing man's relatives who investigated the affair, could only glean very scanty particulars. On the morning of the 18th of October the unfortunate man had been at the

counting-house as usual. He had looked exactly as he generally looked, and had done his work in precisely the accustomed manner. About four o'clock he went home, dined alone, as his brother and his wife were out of town, after dinner sat reading for an hour or so. Later than this there was no decided information. One of the servants, an under-gardener, thought he had observed him pass through the orangery, but was not positive. It was certain lie rang the bell for the dessert to be removed, and the footman who answered the summons was the last person who swore to seeing him. Jerome and his wife made every effort to find the lost. Large rewards were offered to the person who should discover any clew, however slender. The lake in the grounds was dragged. The vessels leaving the port were searched. The haunts of desperadoes in the city thoroughly scoured. But money, time, and diligence were all wasted. The police left the matter as they found it, an unsolved enigma !

 

And so, after the usual time, public interest cooled. The house of Duravel stood as firm as ever; so the idea that pecuniary embarrassment had any thing to do with Claude's disappearance was proved to be baseless : but after a time it was given out that Jerome's health would not allow him to take an active part in the management. Personal friends hinted that his illness, a nervous complaint, was principally caused by domestic chagrins. From some cause or other he aged rapidly. At last he withdrew from the business entirely, and left Havre with his wife. The first news of them was that they were at the baths of Lucca, since, as his physicians prescribed a warm air, and Jerome was both a connoisseur and an artist, Italy had two recommendations. A second report stated that the husband and wife had separated by mutual consent. This story caused a little gossip among their old friends; but the absent are soon forgotten, and their names were hardly ever mentioned.

 

Twenty years are passed, and we stand in one of the best private boxes in the grand opera at Par-

is. The performances are under the patronage of royalty, and the house is in a blaze of costly jewels and gay uniforms. As ever, the house is the great spectacle, and the box wherein we have taken our stand a special focus of attraction. Not from the splendid rank and dazzling beauty of its occupant, but from her extraordinary reputation for wealth and political influences. Time has worked great changes in the face, yet those who were present at the Marengo ball at Havre would recognize in the painted, and powdered, and essenced dowager the features of Corisande de Cardillac. Two or three special favorites only are admitted into her society, but with these she exchanges repartees, jests, satire, criticism. She is one of the autocrats of the world of art ; her bouquet is anxiously looked for by the debutante, for thirty more will follow it. To-night all notice that she is in unusually good spirits.

The curtain rises. One of the veterans of the lyric stage opens the act with a song. It is a marvel of correct vocalization. The house is in a new excitement. The dowager is in an unusual difficulty; she has flung away all her bouquets.

"That rose out of your neck, Eugenie," said the lady to a lovely girl who sits next her. '" I never heard Z— in such voice ; and, for the first time in his life, he acts as well as he sings. Quick—that rose, child ! He will value it more than all the bracelets from his Majesty's box, I know."

The girl blushed and hesitated. Madame Du-ravel in an instant divined the cause ; " Oh, .some-body put the rose there, did he? How naughty of me not to remember it. Well, I suppose a bracelet must go. Why—Mon Dieu! I have given that little rogue of a danseuse my emeralds already."

"You must tell Z    to-morrow, aunt; that will do as well."

" Oh no ! Ile must have something front the Duravel. What! No bouquets, ladies!—no bouquets, gentlemen! I shall have to throw my fan at him, I protest. Where is it, child ? It has `Alexander's Feast' painted on it, and he will fancy the compliment intentional !"

The looked-for fan, however, could not be found

at the moment. The compliant cavaliers sought in vain tinder play-bills and opera-cloaks.

Suddenly a strangely deep voice, close in the lady's ear, uttered the sentence :

" Will this fan serve the purpose, Madame?"

The speaker was the grave-looking man, whose grave face and persistent gaze had annoyed the dowager a moment before.

He leaned over from the next box and presented an open fan. Madame Duravel gazed at the toy he tendered her for a space, wherein you might perhaps have counted sixty; then her face grew too ashy white for the artificial glow on her cheek to be of any avail. Her eyes stared with a hideous fixity of gaze, her jeweled fingers clutched her dress like the hands of one in the death-struggle. She uttered a strange harsh shriek and fell down senseless on the floor. All crowded round her. The gentlemen would have made way for Eugenie and the attendants, but the dark man kept close to the insensible body of Corisande. There were a few hurried cries of alarm. Some fancied a subtle poison had been administered in the fan, and called out for the arrest of the person who had presented it. Cries of " silence!" arose from all parts of the theatre. The actors stopped, and at last—though not till some time had passed—the group of people in the Duravel box succeeded in bearing the dowager to a lobby. There strong convulsive fits seized her ; and after in vain trying all the means of recovery, which the ability of half a dozen of the first Parisian physicians who chanced to be among the audience could suggest, she was carried to her hotel   Directly the stiff fingers of the prostrate woman released it, a gentleman, whose curiosity overmastered his fears, picked up and examined the fatal fan. Its handle was ivory, of curious workmanship, and on it was a picture of an Italian-looking bath-house in a garden. Beneath the landscape were inscribed the initials " C. 1).," and the date "October 18, 1810." There was nothing about the gift apparently to excite the extraordinary emotion which it had been the means of evoking!

 

All Paris next morning was busy with various versions of the accident to the autocrat of the fashionable world. As twenty years before iii Havre, rumor, romance, and exaggeration fastened them-selves on the name of Duravel. Some said the veteran coquette had fainted at the sight of an old lover. Some attached themselves to the first theory of a mysterious poison, and saw in the affair a tragedy worthy of Brinvilliers or Borgia. Others hinted that the celebrated gambler had been arrested for debt. These and a dozen other fictions occupied the salons during the mornings, but, about noon, truth began to rise to the surface from the bottom of the well, and it became known that the gentleman with the harsh voice—the giver of the fan—was an officer of justice acting under instructions, and that Madame Corisande Duravel, who had partially recovered her senses, was, at that moment, under examination at the Bureau of the superintendent of police, and that the charge against her was murder!

 

The sequel must be stated in a few words. The day before the scene at the Grand Opera a poor man, miserably dressed and apparently worn out, with a long journey on foot, arrived at a low cabaret in the Faubourg St. Antoine. Ile engaged a bed for a few sous. In the night he was taken dangerously ill, and raved in such a wild and in-coherent manner that the other lodgers demanded that he should be turned out. The landlady, how-ever, was more humane, and sent for a priest. There was some delay in procuring one, and iii the mean time an officer of police called at the cabaret to see after some other lodger. The person he wanted was hiding in the same room as the delirious man, and the officer when engaged in securing the one overhead the outcries of the other. I he was struck by some few words which the poor wretch repeated over and over again, especially by his mention of a fan which he wanted to present to Madame Duravel, for the name of the Dowager had been mixed up with more than one plot, and she was herself, though perfectly unconscious of it, under strict surveillance. Though the ravings of the old man were vague and contradictory in the extreme, the practiced detective contrived to elicit that it was the dearest wish of the (lying man's heart to present the fan which was wrapped up in his ragged little valise to the celebrated queen of fashion. The officer reported what he had heard to his chief, and by his instructions took the fan from the old man, dressed himself in evening costume, secured a box next to the Duravel, and in the manner we have described carried out the old man's wish. Very different from that which was anticipated was the discovery thereby elicited. They expected to detect some semi-political, semi-mercantile intrigue, and fancied the presentation of the fan a signal for some experiment on the funds. It really was the spell to give voice to a conscience long dumb—the key to unlock a fearful mystery! It had been proposed to confront the lodger at the cabaret with Corisande, but he breathed his last an hour before the examination was to have come on. His pocket-book, in the front page of which was written the name " Claude Duravel," contained a diary, partly written, partly expressed in symbols. But from a few intelligible sentences the superintendent was enabled to put such questions to Madame Duravel as made her imagine him in possession of the whole truth, and led to a full confession of her guilt. Soon after her marriage she had speculated, as we know, most recklessly. There was no way to meet the claims upon her husband save to appropriate the money of the firm; this could not be done without Claude being a party to it, anti Jerome, always a coward, was afraid to confess the truth to him. The demands for money grew each day more and more pressing. A fiendish idea possessed the adventuress, and the execution followed quick on the conception. She and her husband left Havre for a neighboring watering-place, but

"WILL THIS FAN SERVE THE PURPOSE, MADAME I"

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