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9 Series I Volume IX- Serial 9 - Roanoke

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Page 9 Chapter XIX. NAVAL ENGAGEMENT IN HAMPTON ROADS, VA.

in order to wind her. During all the time her keel was in the mud; of course she moved but slowly. Thus we were subjected twice to the heavy guns of all the batteries in passing up and down the river, but it could not be avoided. We silenced several of the batteries and did much injury on shore. A large transport steamer alongside the wharf was blown up, one schooner sunk, and another captured and sent to Norfolk. The loss of life on shore we have no means of ascertaining. While the Virginia was thus engaged in getting her position for attacking the Congress the prisoners state it was believed on board that ship that we had hauled off. The men left their guns and gave three cheers. They were soon sadly undeceived, for a few minutes after we opened upon her again, she having run on shore in shoal water. The carnage, havoc, and dismay caused by our fire compelled them to haul down their colors and to hoist a white flag at their gaff and halfmast and another at the main. The crew instantly took to their boats and landed. Our fire immediately ceased, and a signal was made for the Beaufort to come within hail. I them ordered Lieutenant-Commanding Parker to take possession of the Congress, secure the officers as prisoners, allow the crew to land, and burn the ship. He ran along-side, received her flag and surrender from Commander William Smith and Lieutenant Pendergrast, with the side-arms of those officers. They delivered themselves as prisoners of war on board the Beaufort, and afterward were permitted at their own request to return to the Congress to assist in removing the wounded to the Beaufort. They never returned, and I submit to the decision of the Department whether they are not our prisoners. While the Beaufort and Raleigh were alongside the Congress, and the surrender of that vessel had been received from the commander, she having two white flags flying, hoisted by our own people, a heavy fire was opened upon them from the shore and from the Congress, killing some valuable officers and men. Under this fire the steamers left the Congress, but as I was not informed that any injury had been sustained by those vessels at that time, Lieutenant Commanding Parker having failed to report to me, I took if for granted that my order to him to burn her had been executed, and waited some minutes to see the smoke ascending from her hatches. During this delay we were still subject to the heavy fire from the batteries, which was always promptly returned.

The steam frigates Minnesota and Roanoke and the sailing frigate St Lawrence had previously been reported as coming from Old Point, but as I was deter,mined that the Congress should not again fall into the hands of the enemy, I remarked to that gallant young officer Flag-Lieutenant Minor, "That ship must be burned." he promptly volunteered to take a boat and burn her, and the Teazer, Lieutenant-Commanding Webb, was ordered to cover the boat. Lieutenant Minor had scarcely reached within 50 yards of the Congress when a deadly fire was opened upon him, wounding his severely and several of his men. On witnessing this vile treachery I instantly recalled the boat and ordered the Congress destroyed by hot shot and incendiary shell. About this period I was disabled, and transferred the command of the ship to that gallant, intelligent officer Lieutenant Catesby Jones, with orders to fight her as long as the men could stand to their guns.

The ships from Old Point opened their fire upon us. The Minnesota grounded in the north channel, where, unfortunately, the shoalness of the channel prevented our near approach. We continued, however, to fire upon her until the pilots declared it was no longer safe to remain in that position, and we accordingly returned by the south channel


Page 9 Chapter XIX. NAVAL ENGAGEMENT IN HAMPTON ROADS, VA.

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