Confederate Navy Research Center, Mobile, Alabama,

Richmond, February 27, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report to you the operations of this department since the 18th of November, 1861, the date of my last report, and to recite briefly the progress which has been made in naval defenses.

Flag-Officer George N. Hollins, charged with the naval defenses of the Mississippi and the coast of Louisiana, has under his command the following vessels:
Steamers McRae, Lieutenant Commanding Huger. 8 guns;
General Polk, Lieutenant Commanding Carter, 6 guns;
Florida, Lieutenant Commanding Hays, 4 guns;
Mobile, Lieutenant Commanding Shepperd, 4 guns;
Pamlico, Lieutenant Commanding Dozier, 2 guns;
Ivy, Lieutenant Commanding Fry, 2 guns;
Jackson, Lieutenant Commanding Gwathmey, 2 guns;
Segar, Lieutenant Commanding Shryock, 2 guns;
Bienville, 5 guns; Carondelet, 5 guns; Manassas (iron ram) 1 gun;
Livingston, Commander Pinkney, 6 guns;
Pontchartrain, 5 guns; Maurepas, 5 guns; schooner Pickens, 1 gun;
floating battery New Orleans, 20 guns; floating battery Memphis, 18 guns.
Six barges carrying 12 and 24 pounder howitzers.

Flag-Officer Tattnall, charged with the naval defenses of Carolina and Georgia, has under his command the gunboats Savannah, Lady Davis, Sampson, Resolute, and Huntress, and five gunboats carrying three guns each, with Commander Page, Lieutenants Maffitt, Rutledge, Kennard, Jones, and Pelot.

Flag-Officer Buchanan, on the James River, has under his command the ironclad frigate Virginia, of 10 guns;
the steamer Patrick Henry, partially protected by iron plates, of 6 guns:
the steamer Jamestown, of 2 guns;
the Teaser, of 1 gun;
the Raleigh, of 1 gun,
and Beaufort, of 1 gun.

Flag-Officer Randolph, charged with the naval defenses of Mobile, has under his command the steam sloops Morgan and Gaines, which have just been launched, and designed for a battery of eight guns, the schooner Alert, and two barges, carrying 24-pounder howitzers.

The armed steamer Rappahannock, under the command of Lieutenant Lewis, is on the Rappahannock River, and the armed steamer Richmond, under the command of Master Joseph White, is at Evansport, on the Potomac.

There are now being constructed at New Orleans two large and formidable iron-plated steamships, of about 1,400 tons, each designed for a battery of 20 of the heaviest guns. One of these, the Louisiana, has been launched and nearly completed, and the other, it is believed, will be completed in six weeks. These ships are designed to resist at short distances the heaviest naval ordnance, and it is believed that they will be able to cope successfully, without risk, with the heaviest ships of the enemy.
Two ironclad steam sloops of war are being built at Memphis, each to carry six guns.
Two ironclad steam gunboats, with iron prows as rams, are in course of construction at New Orleans, to carry four guns each and it is expected will be completed in 50 days.
Preparations are being made to build there two heavy steam rams to carry four guns each, so soon as the iron plating can be prepared, to construct two steamers for lake service, in addition to those just launched, and also to construct steam propellers under the recent act of Congress.

At Mobile two large steamers, the engines for which orders have been given to purchase, will be immediately commenced, in addition to gunboats recently authorized by Congress.
One gunboat is nearly completed at Columbus, Ga., and two others are under contract for completion there.
Two are nearly completed at Pensacola and one at Jacksonville.
Five are under contract at Savannah, two of which are nearly completed.
Seven steam gunboats were contracted for at different points in the waters of North Carolina.
At Norfolk we have contracts for seven steam gunboats and at the navy yard three others are being built, and
on the rivers of Virginia active preparations are in progress under a selected corps of experienced officers,
to construct 100 steam gunboats of about 170 tons, each to carry two guns.

I submit herewith a copy of the report of Flag-Officer Lynch of the engagement of his fleet with that of the enemy at Roanoke Island and Elizabeth City on the 9th and 10th of February. The gallant conduct of Flag-Officer Lynch, his officers, and men against the overwhelming forces of the enemy, reflects credit upon the naval service and merits high commendation.
I deem it proper briefly to advert to some of the numerous obstacles which present themselves in our Confederacy to the speedy creation of a navy, and which time and prudent legislation will remove.
Armed hosts may spring forth and armies may be promptly marshaled to repel invasion, but naval defenses of a country have ever necessarily been of tardy growth, and in this age, when the steam engine is as essential to the warship as her battery, and when warfare upon the deep is conducted upon a scale far greater than ever before, the difficulties, delays, and expenses of creating a navy are immeasurably multiplied and increased.

The materials of construction, the artisans, the workshops, the instructed officers, and the seamen--all essential to the creation of a naval establishment--demand time and the fostering hand of the Government, whatever may be its resources, to develop and bring into useful operation.
The want of workshops of large capacities is severely felt. No marine engines, such as are required for the ordinary class of sloops of war or frigates, have ever been made in any of the Confederate States, nor have workshops capable of producing them existed in either of them. Parts of three such engines only have been made in Virginia, but the heavier portions of them were constructed in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and had we the workshops, the construction of one such engine would require a year.
From the commencement of hostilities our foundries have been engaged in supplying the pressing demands for cannon, shot, and shell, and but few of them have been in a condition to engage in the manufacture of steam engines. Hence the department, to meet the urgent demand for naval defenses, and as a temporary expedient, has been compelled, while preparing the means for the construction of a permanent Navy, to avail itself of such steam vessels found in our ports as could be converted to war purposes, and to purchase others in order to obtain machinery for new vessels.

All efforts at construction, whether by contractors or by the department, have been crippled by the want of mechanics. Every applicant willing and able to work upon our vessels has been employed and at wages nearly double those given 12 months ago. Calls for mechanics have been made upon the Army repeatedly, and these have been responded to as far as the interests of that branch of the service would seem to warrant, and yet not half the number required can be obtained.

The same difficulty exists in obtaining instructed sailors. The States forming our Confederacy, engaged chiefly in agricultural pursuits and having but little commerce and few ships upon the sea, have furnished no school for seamen, and the services of this valuable class of men, only to be created by time and judicious legislation, can not be performed by landsmen.

The United States have a constructed Navy; we have a Navy to construct, and as we can not hope to compete with them in the number of their ships--the results of three-quarters of a century--wisdom and policy require us to build our ships in reference to those of the enemy, and that we should, in their construction, compensate by their offensive and defensive power for the inequality of numbers. This it is confidently believed can be accomplished by building plated or ironclad ships, a class of war vessels which has attracted much attention and elicited great research in England and France within the past five years.
Fully impressed with the importance of this subject, an intelligent and reliable officer of our Navy was sent in May last to England and France, and he is still there, with instructions to have constructed, if practicable, an iron-plated vessel similar to the French sloop Gloire. This could only be done with the assent of the Government.
Such ships being useless for all purposes but those of naval warfare are built only as national vessels and can not be purchased, and the relative positions of these countries, their rivalry in naval construction, and the attitude assumed by both toward our country have rendered it impossible as yet to accomplish the object in view. Very recent information, however, induces the belief that one such vessel may now be contracted for in France and one in England, but I have not been able to ascertain at what cost or within what time they could be completed or whether we would be permitted to fit the vessels out in any European port. Upon this subject a special agent was sent to England recently.
We have succeeded, however, in constructing two fine steamships (not ironclad) in England through third parties, one of which was probably completed and delivered to our agents a month ago and the other is to be completed and delivered in May next. Such vessels as the English frigate Warrior, whose cost has exceeded $5,000,000, and as the French sloop Gloire, which cost about $2,000,000, can not be constructed in this Confederacy.

The judgments of naval men and of other experts in naval construction have, however, been consulted, and such an arrangement of iron plates to the hulls of vessels has been adopted as will, it is believed, enable us with a small number of vessels comparatively to keep our waters free from the enemy and ultimately to contest with them the possession of his own. The two ironclad frigates at New Orleans, the two plated ships at Memphis, the two ironclad gunboats in course of construction at New Orleans, and the Virginia, now completed at Norfolk, are vessels of this character.
Such vessels as those first named can be constructed in a third of the time which would be required to build a sloop like the Gloire if we had the ability to build one, and yet, though the Virginia's machinery and the hull to the bends were good, at least 1,500 men working zealously have been engaged upon and for her completion since July last.

In order to stimulate the production of iron plating a reliable agent was sent in April last to the different rolling mills of the country to ascertain the practicability of manufacturing iron plates of the character required for such vessels, and from that time to the present every effort has been made to stimulate their production, and although the quantity we have been thus able to obtain is limited rolling mills are in course of construction which will, it is believed, greatly facilitate if they do not supply this important want of the public service. An estimate may be made of the iron thus required for naval purposes and the consequent development of the iron and coal deposits of our country by the fact that about 1,000 tons have been used in plating the Virginia.
This has been produced by the Tredegar Works, of Richmond, while an equal quantity of similar plating is being manufactured by rolling mills in Atlanta, Ga., for an iron-plated frigate nearly completed at New Orleans.

The manufacture of anchors and chains, of bolt, bar, rod, and boiler iron, of bolt and pig copper and copper sheathing, new branches of industry in our Confederacy, the manufacture of heavy iron and light bronze ordnance and of powder; the collection of ship timber and naval stores and supplies of niter, sulphur, coal, iron, and steel, and the establishment of laboratories for the preparation of all classes of ordnance stores, have been satisfactorily commenced, by contract and otherwise, upon a scale looking to the future wants of the country.
Under the orders of this department experiments have been made by naval officers with iron-plated targets, which afford valuable information in addition to that derived from French and English tests, upon the resistance of iron plates to shot and shell.

I recommend that the number of officers in the different grades of the Navy be determined by law. So long as officers were coming to us from the Navy of the United States and places were reserved for them this could not be done, but ample time has been afforded to all who desired to join us from that source.
The act originally providing for a Navy, approved March 16, 1861, limited the number of captains to 4,
of commanders to 4,
of lieutenants to 30,
of surgeons to 5,
of assistant surgeons to 5,
of paymasters to 6, and
of chief engineers to 2,
and under the act of May 20, 1861, providing for the appointment of all officers fit for active service, resigning from the Navy of the United States in consequence of the secession of these States, the grade of captain has been increased to 10,
of commander to 28,
of lieutenant to 76,
of surgeons to 22,
of assistant surgeons to 14,
of paymaster to 11, and
of chief engineer to 5.

There has been no promotion in the Navy, and can be none until the numbers in the several grades shall be determined. The good of the service would be advanced by increasing the number of grades, thus rendering promotion, more frequent, and I recommend that instead of one grade of lieutenants there be two, to be known as the grades of first and second lieutenants, and that the grade of master in the line of promotion be also established.
I have heretofore brought to your attention the importance of providing for the education of midshipmen.
The scientific education of naval officers is more necessary now than at any previous period, and all the naval powers of the earth have made for it the most ample and thorough provision. I would not recommend a large expenditure for this purpose in the present condition of the Treasury, but the foundation of an institution so essential to the interests of the Navy may be economically laid.
Appointed from civil life, and possessing but little knowledge of the duties of an officer, ignorant even of the vocabulary of the profession, midshipmen are sent to vessels or to batteries where adequate study and instruction are impracticable. Until the establishment of a naval school the receiving ship at Norfolk might be prepared for the accommodation of a hundred midshipmen, where, under competent naval officers, a knowledge of important branches of the profession might be acquired.
The creation of a volunteer or provisional Navy for the war, heretofore brought to your notice in detail, merits, I am persuaded, serious consideration, and I deem it proper to repeat my recommendation upon the subject.

The Norfolk yard, under the efficient direction of Flag Officer Forrest, is rendering the most important service to the country. The construction of vessels and their equipments of gun carriages, ordnance, and ordnance stores, the manufacture of steam engines and of shot and shell are all progressing satisfactorily.
The Pensacola yard being commanded by the enemy's guns, has been useless as a naval establishment.

A code of regulations for the general government of all persons connected with or employed in the naval service, as provided for by the act of March 16, 1861, has been carefully prepared and will he submitted for your approval at an early day.
On the 24th of December last Congress appropriated $500,000 for the construction of gunboats on the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers, and on the following day I sent an energetic and reliable naval officer, Lieutenant Isaac N. Brown, of Mississippi, to Nashville, with full authority and instructions to purchase and arm steamers and convert them into gunboats with all possible dispatch. He entered at once upon this duty, purchasing the steers James Wood, James Johnson, and Dunbar, ordnance for which was in part and promptly sent from Richmond. He had not completed these vessels when the enemy reached Nashville, and information has reached me unofficially that he destroyed them to prevent them from falling into the enemy's hands.

Under the existing law prescribing the term of service of marines, enlistments can be made for four years.
This has retarded enlistments, and I recommend that authority be given to enlist marines for three years or for the war: and that the bounty of $50 for enlistment in the Army and Navy be extended to this Corps.
Estimates of the amount required for the naval service to the 30th of June next are herewith submitted in accordance with the request of the Secretary of the Treasury.
With much respect, your obedient servant.
Secretary of the Navy.

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