a steam ram, we can crush in the side of any armour-plated ship, and let the water rush in through a hole, 'not perhaps as wide as a church door or as deep as a well, but 'twill serve'; and be certain to send her below water in a few minutes.

  • NOTE In these days of armour-clad warships, when plates of enormous thickness are relied on as invulnerable, our Naval Constructors appear to forget that the actual structural strength of such ships depends on the backing of the plates, which, be it ever so thick, would yield to the cramming blow of a moderate-sized Ram.
  • I published my description of the steam ram and its apparatus in the Times of January 1853, and again addressed the Editor on the subject in April 1862. General Sir John Burgoyne took up the subject, and addressed me in the note at the foot of this page.[note:

  • The following is the letter of General Sir John Burgoyne:
  • WAR OFFICE, PALL MALL, LONDON, 8th April 1862.

    "General Sir John Burgoyne presents his compliments to Mr. Nasmyth, and was much pleased to find, by Mr. Nasmyth's letter in the Times of this day, certain impressions that he has held for some time confirmed by so good an authority. "A difficulty seems to be anticipated by many that a steamer used as a ram with high velocity, if impelled upon a heavy ship, would, by the revulsion of the sudden shock, be liable to have much of her gear thrown entirely out of order, parts displaced, and perhaps the boilers burst. Some judgment, however, may be formed on this point by a knowledge of whether such circumstances have occurred on ships suddenly grounding; and even so, it may be a question whether so great a velocity is necessary. "An accident occurred some twenty years ago, within Sir John Burgoyne's immediate cognisance, that has led him particularly to consider the great power of a ship acting as a ram. A somewhat heavy steamer went, by accident or mismanagement, end on to a very substantial wharf wall in Kingstown Harbour, Dublin Bay. Though the force of the blow was greatly checked through the measures taken for that purpose, and indeed so much so that the vessel itself suffered no very material injury, yet several of the massive granite stones of the facing were driven some inches in, showing the enormous force used upon them. "Superior speed will be very essential to the successful action of the ram; but by the above circumstance we may assume that even a moderate speed would enable great effects to be produced, at least on any comparatively weak point of even ironclad ships, such as the rudder."]

    In June 1870, I received a letter from Sir E. J. Reed, containing the following extracts:-- "I was aware previously that plans had been proposed for constructing unarmoured steam rams, but I was not acquainted with the fact that you had put forward so well-maturerd a scheme at so early a date ; and it has given me much pleasure to find that such is the case. It has been a cause both of pleasure and surprise to me to find that so long ago you incorporated into a design almost all the features which we now regard as essential to ramming efficiency -- twin screws and moderate dimensions for handiness, numerous water-tight divisions for safety, and special strengthenings at the bow. Facts such as these deserve to be put on record. . . . Meanwhile accept my congratulations on the great skill and foresight which your ram-design displays."

    Collisions at sea unhappily afford ample evidence of the fatal efficiency of the ramming principle. Even ironclad ships have not been able to withstand the destructive effect. The Vanguard and the Kurfürst now lie at the bottom of the sea in consequence of an accidental "end-on" ram from a heavy ship going at a moderate velocity. High speed in a Steam Ram is only desirable when the attempt is made to overtake an enemy's ship; but not necessary for doing its destructive work. A crash on the thick plates of the strongest Ironclad, from a Ram of 2000 tons at the speed of four miles an hour, would drive them inwards with the most fatal results.

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