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10 Series I Volume IX- Serial 9 - Roanoke

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Page 10 OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA. Chapter XIX.

(the middle ground being necessarily between the Virginia and Minnesota, and St. Lawrence and the Roanoke having retreated under the guns of Old Point), and again had an opportunity of opening upon the Minnesota, receiving her heavy fire in return, and shortly afterward upon the St. Lawrence, from which vessel was received several broadsides. It had by this time become dark and we soon after anchored off Sewell's Point. The rest of the squadron followed our movements, with the exception of the Beaufort, Lieutenant-Commanding Parker, who proceeded to Norfolk with the wounded and prisoners as soon as he had left the Congress, without reporting to me. The Congress, having been set on fire by our hot shot and incendiary shell, continued to burn, her loaded guns being successively discharged as the flames reached them, until a few minutes past midnight, when her magazine exploded with a tremendous report.

The facts above stated as having occurred after I had placed the ship in charge of Lieutenant Jones reported to me by that officer.

At an early hour next morning (the 9th), upon the urgent solicitations of the surgeons, Lieutenant Minor myself were very reluctantly taken on shore. The accommodations for the proper treatment of wounded persons on board the Virginia are exceedingly limited Lieutenant Minor and myself occupying the only space that could be used for that purpose, which was in my cabin. I therefore consented to our being landed on Sewell's Point, thinking that the room on board vacated by us could be used for those who might be wounded in the renewal of the action. In the course of the day Lieutenant Minor and myself were sent in a steamer to the hospital at Norfolk.

The following is an extract from the report of Lieutenant Jones of the proceedings of the Virginia on the 9th:

At daylight on the we saw that the Minnesota was still ashore, and that there was iron battery near her. At 8 [o'clock] we ran down to engage them (having previously sent the killed and wounded out of the ship), firing at the Minnesota and occasionally at the iron battery. The pilots did not place us as near as they expected. The great length and draught of the ship rendered it exceedingly difficult to work her. We ran ashore about a mile from the frigate, and backing fifteen minutes before we got off. We continued to fire at the Minnesota, and blew up a steamer alongside o her, and we also engaged the Monitor, and sometimes at very close quarters. We once succeeded in running into her, and twice silenced her fire. The pilots declaring that we could get no nearer the Minnesota, and believing her to be entirely disabled, and the Monitor having run into shoal water, which prevented our doing her any further injury, we ceased firing at 12 [o'clock] and proceeded to Norfolk.

Out loss is 2 killed and 19 wounded. The stem it twisted and the ship leads. We have lost the prow, starboard anchor, and all the boats. The armor is somewhat damaged; the steam-pipe and smoke-stack both riddled; the muzzles of two of the guns shot away. It was not easy to keep a flag flying. The flag-staffs were repeatedly shot away. The colors were hoisted to the smoke-stack and several times cut down from it.

The bearing of the men was all that could be desired; the enthusiasm could scarcely be restrained. During the action they cheered again and again. Their coolness and skill were the more remarkable from the fact that the great majority of them were under fire for the first time. They were strangers to each other and to the officers, and had but a few days' instruction in the management of the great guns. To the skill and example of the officers is this result in no small degree attributable.

Having thus given a full report of the action on the 8th and 9th, I feel in due to the gallant officers who so nobly sustained the honor of the flag and country on those days to express my appreciation of their conduct.

To that brave and intelligent officer Lieutenant Catesby Jones, the executive and ordnance officer of the Virginia, I am greatly indebted for the success achieved. His constant attention to his duties in the equipment of the ship; his intelligence in the instruction of ordnance


Page 10 OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA. Chapter XIX.

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