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3 Series I Volume IX- Serial 9 - Roanoke

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Page 3 Chapter XIX. NAVAL ENGAGEMENT IN HAMPTON ROADS, VA.

with the Yorktown and Jamestown, bore down upon her. The Merrimac drew too much water to approach very near; her fire was not therefore particularly effective. The other steamers selected their position, fired with much accuracy, and caused considerable damage to the Minnesota. She soon, however, succeeded in getting a gun to bear on the smaller steamers and drove them away-one apparently in a crippled condition. About 7 p. m. the Merrimac also hauled off, and the three stood toward Norfolk.

All efforts to get the Minnesota afloat during the night and into a safe position were totally unavailing. The morning was looked for with deep anxiety, as it would in all probability bring a renewed attack from the formidable assailant. At this critical and anxious moment the Monitor, one of the newly-furnished armored vessels, came into Hampton Roads, from New York, under command of Lieutenant John L. Worden, and a little after midnight anchored alongside the Minnesota. At 6 o'clock the next morning the Merrimac, as anticipated, again made her appearance, and opened her fire upon the Minnesota. promptly obeying the signal to attack, the Monitor raw down past the Minnesota and laid herself close alongside the Merrimac, between that formidable vessel and the Minnesota. The fierce conflict between these two ironclads lasted for several hours. It was in appearance an unequal conflict for the Merrimac was a large and noble structure, and the Monitor was in comparison almost diminutive. But the Monitor was strong in her armor, in the ingenious novelty of her construction, in the large caliber of her two guns, and the valor and skill with which she was handled. After several hours' fighting the Merrimac found herself overmatched, and, leaving the Monitor, south to renew the attack on the Minnesota, but the Monitor again placed herself between the two vessels and reopened her fire upon her adversary. At noon the Merrimac, seriously damaged, abandoned the contest and, with he companies, retreated toward Norfolk.

Thus terminated the most remarkable naval combat of modern times, perhaps of any age. The fiercest and most formidable naval assault upon the power of the Union which has even been made by the insurgents was heroically repelled, and a new are was opened in the history of maritime warfare.

* * * *


Numbers 2. Report of Major General John E. Wool, U. S. Army, commanding Department of Virginia.


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
Fort Monroe, Va., March 9, 1862.

GENERAL: Two hours after I sent my hurried dispatch to the Secretary of War last evening the Monitor arrived, and saved the Minnesota and the St. Lawrence, which were both aground when she arrived.

The Merrimac, supported by the Yorktown and Jamestown, commenced an attack on the Minnesota (still aground) early this morning, and after a contest of five hours was driven off in a sinking condition by the Monitor, aided by the Minnesota, and towed by the Jamestown and Yorktown toward Norfolk, for the purpose, no doubt, of getting her, if possible, in the dry-dock for repairs.


Page 3 Chapter XIX. NAVAL ENGAGEMENT IN HAMPTON ROADS, VA.

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