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    [USS Monitor] and [Civil War]. Two Letters Concerning the Financing and Building of the USS Monitor. In 1861, word reached the United States that the Confederate Navy had resurrected the USS Merrimack as the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. The race was on to design similar ships that could repel an attack from such a beast. Cornelius S. Bushnell designed his own ironclad for the U. S. Navy and took his design to inventor Captain John Ericsson for his input. Ericsson showed him his own plans for an ironclad, which Bushnell recognized to be superior. Bushnell took Ericsson's plans to Washington and financed the construction, along with two other men, and within 100 days, the USS Monitor was put to sea.

    The first letter, from W. L. Barnes of the Delamater Iron Works, who produced the machinery and boilers for the USS Monitor, is two pages, 7.25" x 9.25", New York, September 23, 1861, to John A. Griswold, president of the Rensselaer Iron Works, which was responsible for manufacturing the rivets and bar iron for the pilot house famous ironclad, regarding a meeting in Washington proposed by Cornelius Bushnell. "I recd Bushnells telegraph at 2 PM today & telegraphed you immediately, too late I fear for you to get the train that connects with the 6 PM to train to Washington today. It is impossible for the Capt [Ericsson] to leave today & he has written Bushnell & Commodore Smith fully in the hope that it may not be necessary for him to go on." He reveals that Bushnell is annoyed that Griswold does not "respond to him promptly enough...though I have had much to say of your well known promptness for business matters." He continues: "You will of course understand my extreme solitude that a matter of so much importance as this appears to be should not slip through your hands...least of all from any want of interest or attention on my part. I believe that I explained to you when here that Bushnell has provide other securities in case you did not wish to go on to the contract as explained by Capt Ericsson...I have written Bushnell fully...that I would remain at the Dey St. House for the present to receive any further messages from him & to forward our mutual interests." It is easy to pick up on the urgency of the matter from Barnes tone. Smoothed folds and even toning. Ink bleed-through on both sides from the bold text.

    The second letter, from C. S. Bushnell, is one page, 8" x 10", New Haven, December 28, 1861, to John A. Griswold with an update on the project. "I have made arrangements so that I can have your requisitions from Capt E[ricsson] cashed at once simply by writing to Washington where you send on the bills. I think if Mr. [Erastus] Corning and [Secretary of State William H.] Seward do what they can for us we are sure of all the work we desire." Work on the Monitor was already well under way and the prospect of future business seemed bright. Smoothed folds with some soiling at the left edge. Together with an envelope that at one time contained letters regarding the "contract for Monitor" and a clipped signature of John Augustus Griswold measuring 5.25" x 1.5".


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2012
    11th-12th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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