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MARCH 8-MAY 11,1362. 

U 3. a. MONITOR 

MARCH 9, 1862-JANUARY2.1863. 





^ And a Complete History of 
the Operations of these Two 
Historic Vessels in Hampton 
Roads and adjacent waters. 

C. S. S. Virginia 

March 8^May 11, 1862 

U. S. S. Monitor 

March 9-January 2d, 1863 


Fiveash Publishing Corporation, Publishers 




Iwo Cooies Received 

MAY 3 laO*" 

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('ol>yiight, 1007, by 
II Trm.isiii.NO C'okfouation. 


In presenting the following pages descriptive of the revolution 
that occurred in naval warfare on the 8th day of March, 1862, when 
the Confederate iron-clad steamer Virginia destroyed the Federal 
frigates Cumberland and Congress, no statement will be made that 
cannot be verified by official records, nor will any illustration be 
printed that is not accurate in every detail, as far as it is possible to 
obtain accuracy by describing to an artist that which you desire to 
be transferred to canvas. With the exception of the l^attle between 
the iron-clads on the 9th of March, the challenge of Commodore 
Tatnall to battle on the 11th of April, and the destruction of the Vir- 
ginia on the 11th of May, the writer witnessed every movement that is 
depicted, and others not so important. The small battle scene on 
the frontispiece is especially commended to the reader for examination, 
as it presents the exact appearance of the Virginia when she reached 
the Navy Yard Sunday afternoon after the fight. Her boats and an- 
chor had been shot away, her armor had dents in it in many places, her 
smoke stack had been riddled until it resembled somewhat a huge nut- 
meg grater, and her flag, which had been shot away, was fastened to a 
boarding pike, which in turn was made fast to the smoke-stack. 

The picture "Passing the Naval Hospital," represents the Virginia 
opposite Town Point as she silently passed down the harbor. It is 
sketched from a plan drawn by Lieutenant Minor, the only change 
Ijeing a pilot-house at the rear of her shield. She was supplied with 
two pilot-houses instead of one, as originally intended. There may, 
and probably was, a group of officers on her upper deck as she passed 
down the river. The writer has no recollection on this point; what 

is ilistinclly remoiiilxTcil. tuiwcvcr. is that a s(>aiiian wiio was standing 
knee diH']) in water on lier forwanl deck, about twenty-five feet in front 
of the siiield, was "heaving tlie lead," and that two gunners were sitting 
in her forward portholes. The Cumberland was rammed on the star- 
board bow, as witness what Captain Buchanan says: "In about fifteen 
minutes after the action commenced we ran into her on starboard 
bow." The ])iiiiil where the Virginia was destroyed is thus described 
liy Coniiiiiuloie Tatiuill: "The ship was accordingly [Hit on shore as near 
the mainland in tlie vicinity of Craney Island as possible and the crew 
lan(l(>(l. She was then tired, iimi after i)urning fiercely fore and aft 
for u])war.l of an liour, blew up a little before 5 on the morning of the 
eleventh." The ho]);'s that the Virginia inspired in the South and the 
feai-s that she e.xcite 1 in the North, are now but a memory. Forty-five 
years have passed since she moved about the waters of Elizabeth River 
atui IIainj)ton Roails. and if really appears that the time has arrived 
when her true history should l)e known to the entir(> country. 

Xui{?x)i.K, Va., Marcii Uth. I'.l(l7. 





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[n the Historic Waters of Hampton Roads, as Wit- 
nessed by the Author. 

When the storm of war burst upon our country in April, 1861, after 
Virginia had vainly endeavored to avert the impending struggle, the 
shores of Hampton Roads became the dividing line between the con- 
tending forces^the Northern and Western shore, from Fortress Monroe 
to the mouth of the James River, at Newport News, being occupied by 
the Federals, while the Eastern and Southern shores were occupied by 
the Confederates.) As is well known, Fortress Monroe commanded 
the entrance to the great nuidsfcai! which was soon to be the scene of 
such stirring events, and l>\ thd-c best informed it was known to be 
the most important strateiiical position along the coast line of the seced- 
ing States. Prior to the secession of Virginia the garrison was very 
small, the Washington administration hesitating, until Fort Sumter 
was fired upon, to do anything that would have the appearam c of pro- 
voking hostilities in Virginia, w-hich State up to that time was opjjosed 
to secession. There were those in Norfolk and vicinity who favored 
the seizure of the fort, just as Fort Pulaski, in Georgia, had been seized 
before Georgia seceded, but consent could not be obtained at Rich- 
mond for such a proceeding, and when the State did secede, the time 
had passed for a successful attack to be made — the reinforcement of 
the garrison by Pennsjdvania and Massachusetts troops securing that 
great fortification to the North for the entire war. 

The reader of the present day has no idea of the rapidity of the 
movements, political and otherwise, that took place at the time named. 
The attack upon Fort Sumter was followed by a call for 75,000 
troops liy President Lincoln, and Virginia, which a few months before 
had elected, by a great majority, a Convention that was opposed to 
secession, answered that call by withdrawing from the Union and cast- 
ing her fortunes with the States of the South. 

So far as the Hampton Roads section of Mrginia is concerned, 
the war commenced the night of April 19th, 1861, when Fort Norfolk 
was seized by the local military companies of Norfolk, and the powder 

stored therein, iiniouiitinf!; to 300,000 pounds, was removed, a portion 
being sent by water to Kiclunond, and the remainder to tiie Fair Grounds 
for safekeeping. Tlie fall of Mr. Lincoln, for troops, was issued on 
the 15th, and so promptly was it answered that the Third Massachu- 
setts Regiment left Boston on the evening of the 17th, on the steam- 
ship S. R. Spaulding, for Fortress i\Ionroe. which place it reached on 
the 20th, where it found that the regular garrison had already been 
reinforced by a reginicnt from Pennsylvania. A few moments after 
the Mas.sachusetts troops rcadicil Old Point they were transferred to 
the gunboat Pawnee, to accomi)any Commodore Paulding to the Gos- 
port Nav}' Yard, to hold and defend that great work-shoj) — the largest 
in the country. The Pawnee, alive with sailors and soldiers, passed 
through the harbor about dusk, and went u]i to the Navy Yard, where 
the work of destruction had already commenced , bj' order of Commo- 
dore McCauley, the Conuiiandanl. Commodore Paulding had orders 
to hold the Yard if he thought he could do so, but when he reached the 
scene of operations he acquiesced in the abandonment and destruction 
of the Government's most extensive work-shop, with its enormous 
supplies of ordnance stores. On the morning of the 2()th there were 
at the Yard and in the stream the receiving ship Pennsylvania, 120 
guns; sloop-of-war Cumberland, 22 guns, in commission, with a full 
complement of men and officers; the sloops-of-war Plymouth and 
Germantown. each carrying 22 guns; the steam frigate Merrimac, of 
40 guns, and the brig l)ol|)hin. of six guns. There were several old 
vessels moored there, but they were of slight value. Within a stone's 
throw of each other were the two ves.sels which were destined, within 
less than a year, to figure so prominently in history — the Merrimac 
and Cumberland. The Merrimac was moored at one of the wharves, 
where .she was being repaired, and the Cumberland, the flagship of 
the Home Squadron, was anchored nearby, ready to sail. In the 
afternoon, when the work of destruction commenced, the Merrimac 
was the first to receive attention. Her bilge cocks were opened, and 
wlicn the Pawnee ani\cd .she rested upon the bottom of Southern 
Brancli, licr upjier deck, however, being above water. The Plymouth 
was also sunk, and the Germantown had her back broken by the im- 
mense shears falling across her. After the arrival of the Pawnee the 
troops and sailors were put to work spiking guns, breaking off their 
trunnions and doing whatever else thej^ could in the way of destruction. 
The families of such officers and Navy Yard employees as were going 
North were jjlaced upon the Cumberland, trains of powder were laid 
about the Yard to hasten the work of destruction, and about four 
o'clock Sunday morning, April 21st, the Yard and ships were fired, 
and shortly thereafter the Pawnee, with the Cumberland in tow, steamed 

away for Fortress Monroe. War had foinmenced, and Virginia was 
about to become the scene of its horrors, on land and water. 

During the exciting debates that had preceded hostilities the 
Southern people had been depicted as lacking in energy — as being 
lazy — but the scenes that were witnessed hereabouts on that bright 
April Sunday, when the Navy Yard and ships were in flames, nega- 
tived all that had been said in the way of detraction. There were 
two thousand cannon at St. Helena and the Navy Yard when the 
station was abandoned, and while the flames were still raging, the 
work of removing such pieces as were needed for immediate local 
tlefense was commenced. The Sunday schools and churches were but 
slimly attended that day, and in place of the usual quiet scenes that 
attended the Sabbath, preliminaries of terrible war were witnessed. 
Cannon drawn by oxen were distributed to the nearby points on the 
water front that were to be fortified, and this work was kept up for a 
considerable period. It may not be amiss to remark at this point 
that the cannon secured by the evacuation of the great naval station 
supplied, to a very large extent, the defensive works that were con- 
structed all over the South. They were sent as far as Columbus, Ken- 
tucky, and Island No. 10, in the Mississippi River, above Memphis, 
as well as to New Orleans, Charleston and many other places. 

On the night of the 20th the first troops to reach the city from 
outside points came in a train from Petersburg — -four companies. As 
the days passed others arrived from Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, North 
Carolina and Louisiana, until the territory bordering the Elizabeth 
River and Hampton Roads was an armed camp, containing in the 
neighborhood of 15,000 troops. Sewall's Point and Craney Island, 
however, were more extensively fortified than the other places, be- 
cause of their commanding positions, and that the work was w^ell 
done was afterwards attested by the report of Commodore Golds- 
borough to the Navy Department, made in May, 1862. At each of 
the points named about forty guns commanded the approach to the 

At the time that the war commenced the subject of using iron in ship 
construction was attracting attention at home and abroad, and espe- 
cially in Great Britain and France, where a few experiments had al- 
ready been made with a view to the use of iron in naval construction. 
Even before the Confederate capital was moved from Montgomery 
to Richmond the matter of using iron vessels was brought to the atten- 
tion of the Confederate authorities, and the subject was renewed 
shortly after the transfer was made. The Merrimac, which was slightly 
injured when the Navy Yard was destroyed, was raised on the 30th of 
May, by the Baker Wrecking Company, and placed in the dry dock, 

where she was inspected hy Naval Constnirtdr .loliii I,. I'orler, who 
was ill charge of the construction clcpartniciit at tlic Yani. In .June 
a conference was held at the office of Secretary Mallory, in Richmond, 
when it was decided to convert the Merrimac into an iron-clad, and a 
board, composed of Construitor John L. Porter, Chief Engineer William 
P. Williamson and Lieutenant John M. Brooke, was appointed to have 
charge of tlie work. The order to reconstruct the ve.ssel was issued 
July lltli. ISGl, and a couple of days thereafter operations were com- 
menied. A month later Secretary Mallory, in a communication to Flag 
Otfiior I'rench Forrest, urging the speedy completion of the ves.sel, 
used the language. "Chief Engineer Williamson and Con.structor Por- 
ter, severally in charge of tlie two branches of this great work, and for 
which they will be held personally responsible, will receive therefore 
every possible facility at the expense and delay of everj' other work 
on hand if necessary." To Lieutenant Brooke was assigned the 
of testing her armor plates and superintending the preparation of her 
battery. The injury to the Merrimac was caused by fire, her upper 
portion being burned. 

liariy in Manh, 1S62, the work on the Merrimac was sufiii iently 
advaiued to cnal)le a trial tri]) to be made, but as a matter of fa' t the 
vessel was not fully completed until a few days l)efore her destru tion. 
An undercurrent of doubt pervaded the community, shared by certain 
naval officers, relative to the ability of the transformed vessel to float. 
Some thought that she would turn over, but when water was turned 
into the dock all fears were dispelled, as she was so buoyant that many 
tons of pig iron had to be placed in her after her battery was in position, 
to enable her to be brought to the proper depth in the water. When 
she emerged from the dry dock she became the ironclad steamer Vir- 
ginia, by direction of Mr. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy, and that is 
her proper name in history. Sailors were very .scarce in the South, 
and although a number of men from General Magruder's command on 
the Peninsula enlisted for service on her, there was a deficiency of 
thirty-one men to complete her full complement, which deficiency 
was filled by that number of volunteers from the United Artillery of 
Norfolk, under command of their captain, Thomas Kovill. The last 
act of preparation that was made, was to cover her armored sides with 
a coating of tallow. 

I'nder command of Captain Franklin Buchanan she left the Navy 
■^ard al)out half past eleven o'clock Saturday, March Sth, 1862, and as 
she passed the Naval Hospital, when viewed from Town Point, her 
shield was the only part of the ves.sel visible, the forward and after 
portions being entirely .submerged. Her passage through the harbor 
and down to the Roads was witnessed 1)V thousands of citizens and 

Captain Franklin P.uchanan. C. S \.. in Command of Vj 

I.icillcnant Catcsb> An. R. Jones, who commaniliil the \ i 
the afternoon of Sth of March and 9lh of March 
in battle with Monitor. 

Battle wiUi Monitor, Marcli 9, luhl 

soldiers, and there was an entire absence of noisy demonstration. 
Everybody seemed to recognize the fact that her trial trip would be 
attended by terribly disastrous results, and they refrained from giving 
expression to their feelings. The Virginia was accompanied by the 
gunboats Raleigh and Beaufort, and when the little squadron reached 
the Roads the Congress and Cumberland were observed on blockade 
duty near Newport News, at the mouth of James River. On the latter 
vessel the clothes of the crew were hanging in the rigging. Captain 
Buchanan determined to ram the Cumberland, and at about two 
o'clock he opened the engagement by firing at her when a mile distant. 
As the Virginia proceeded, the Congress, which was a fifty-gun frigate, 
gave her a broadside, and then the firing became so rapid that the 
smoke of the conflict enveloped the different vessels. 

When it cleared, fifteen minutes later, the Cumberland had dis- 
appeared beneath the water, only portions of her masts being visible. 
She had been struck on her starboard bow by the prow of the Virginia 
and immediately began to settle in the water. Her crew made a gal- 
lant fight, standing by their guns until the water was about them, 
when they jumped overboard. The stern pivot gun was fired just 
before the water closed over the doomed vessel, and she went down 
with her colors flying. The Norfolk Day Book of March 10th, whose 
editor witnessed the engagement from the deck of the small steamer 
Harmony, which had on board Commodore French Forrest and a num- 
ber of officials, had this to say of the scene: "Slowly the Virginia 
.steams back, and the Cumberland, sunk now to her white streaks, opens 
upon her again. A gallant man fought that ship. Gun after gun he 
fired, lower and lower sunk his ship — his last discharge comes from 
his pivot gun — the ship lurches to starboard, now to port, his flag 
streams out wildly, and now the Cumberland goes down on her beam 
ends, at once a monument and an epitaph of the gallant men who 
fought her." 

The Cumberland was commanded by Lieutenant Geoi-ge U. Mor- 
ris, in the absence of Captain William Radford, who was attending a 
court-martial on board the frigate Roanoke when the Virginia made 
her appearance. Captain Radford arrived at Newport News just in 
time to see his vessel disappear beneath the waters of the James 
River. In his report to the Secretary of the Navy he placed the num- 
ber of his men killed in action and drowned at one hundred and twen- 

This engagement lasted about fifteen or twenty minutes, and just 
as it ended the James River squadron, consisting of the gunboats Pat- 
rick Henry, Jamestown and Teaser, under the command of Captain 
J. R. Tucker, reached the scene of action. In passing the Federal bat- 

terics at Newport News, however, a shot strut-k one of the steain pipes 
of the Patrick Henry, causing a number of her crew to be scalded, 
four of them fatally. She was towed out of action l)y the Jamestown, 
but after an interval of an hour or so, she returned to the conflict and 
took part in the engagement with the Minnesota, which vessel grounded 
while coming up from Old Point. 

The Virginia, after backing out from the sinking Cumberland, 
headed u]) James River, for the purpose of executing a speedy move- 
ment which would enalile her to ajjjiroach, bow on, the Congress, which 
was endeavoring to escape, and also to pa}' her respects to the frigates 
Minnesota, Roanoke and St. Lawrence, which were making their way 
towards Newport News from Old Point. She was compelled to pass 
the Newport News batteries twice in order to make the movement, 
and she gave them broadsides going and returning, which silenced 
them. Returning to the Roads she made for the Congress, which had 
been run ashore near Newport News Point, and taking a position about 
one hundred and fifty yards to the stem of that frigate, raked her from 
stern to stem. The Congress was aground and utterly helpless, and 
in a few moments two w-hite flags were displayed. The ^'irginia 
immediately ceased firing and Captam Buchanan gave directions for 
receiving the surrender of the vessel. His instructions were that the 
men should be permitted to go ashore, that the officers should be 
retained as prisoners, and that the vessel should be set on fire. In 
carrying out these instructions Lieutenant William H. Parker, com- 
manding the gunboat Beaufort, and Lieutenant J. W. Alex;inder, in the 
gunboat Raleigh, went alongside the Congress to arrange for the trans- 
fer of prisoners, l)ut before completing their task a detachment of 
Federal artillery and infantry appeared on the shore opposite and 
opened fire, with fatal results, to friends as well as foes. 

Lieutenant Minor, of the Virginia, who had been sent bj^ Cajjtain 
Buchanan to set the Congress on fire, was wounded as w^ell as Captain 
Buchanan. The latter in his report says: "Lieutenant Minor had 
scarcely reached within fifty yards of the Congress when a deadly 
fire w-as opened upon him, ^^^ounding him severely, and also several of 
his men. On witnossiim this \ilc t icaihory, I instantly recalled the 
boat and ordered flic Cuniiiv-- ilc-i lo^cil liy hot shot and incendiary 
shell. About this jx-ridil 1 was ilisaMcil 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 order was o])eyed, the Congress was set on fire and burned, her 
magazine exploding shortly after midnight. Lieutenant Austin Pen- 
dergrast, in making his rejiort to Secretary Welles, stated that the num- 
ber of killed and missing was one hundred and ten, and that ten of the 
wounded died on shore, making the entire loss one hundred and twenty. 

After leaving the Congress the Mrginia and the gunboats engaged 
the frigate Minnesota at long range. Shots were also exchanged with 
the frigates Roanoke and St. Lawrence, both of which got aground 
while endeavoring to move up towards Newport News. The Roanoke 
after getting off returned to Old Point, and was later followed by the 
St. Lawrence. The last named vessel fired about eighty shot at the 
Virginia without effect, and received one in return which did consid- 
erable damage to the interior of the ship. Darkness was now approach- 
ing, and the Virginia and her consorts proceeded to the neighborhood 
of Sewall's Point and anchored. 

Captain Gautier, of the French corvette Gassendi, who witnessed 
portions of the engagements from the deck of his vessel, furnished his 
government with a very full report of the two days' fighting. The 
Monitor arrived at Old Point shortly before nine o'clock on the night 
of March 8th, about two hours after the Virginia had steamed back 
to Sewall's Point, and here is what Captain Gautier said was the con- 
dition of affairs at the Point at that time: "Everything seemed des- 
perate on the evening of the 8th, and a general panic appeared to take 
possession of everyone. The terrible engine of war, so often announced, 
had at length appeared, and in an hour at most had destroyed two of 
the strongest ships of the Union, silenced two powerful batteries, and 
seen the rest of the naval force, which the day before had blockaded 
the two rivers, retreat before her. Several vessels changed their 
anchorage, and all held themselves in readiness to stand out to sea at 
the first movement of the enemy. Everything was in confusion at 
Fort Monroe; ferryboats, gunboats and tugboats were coming and 
going in all directions, drums and bugles beat and sounded with un- 
usual spirit. Fort Monroe and the battery of the Rip Raps exchanged 
night signals without intermission. In spite of the assistance of half 
a dozen steamers, the Minnesota could not succeed in getting afloat 
again, and I learned even that a council of war, held on this subject, 
entertained for a moment the thought of burning her." 


On board the Virginia the night passed without incident, except 
that the wounded were removed, and early next morning Captain 
Buchanan and Lieutenant Minor landed at Sewall's Point and later 
were sent up to the Naval Hospital. Shortly thereafter the vessels 
of the fleet were gotten in readiness to resume operations, and at eight 
o'clock thev started for the Minnesota, which was still aground, with 

the purpose of destroying her, but conditions had changed since Sat- 
urday evening — a new antagonist had appeared — and when the day's 
conflict ended, shortly after noon, the Federals had cause to rejoice 
at the result, as the Virginia returned to tlie Yard without destroying 
the Minnesota. The Monitor arrived at Old Point at nine o'clock 
Saturday night, and as soon as possii)le thereafter prot ceded up the 
Roads to assist the Minnesota. She laid by that distressed vessel 
the remainder of the night, and the following morning, upon the ap- 
proach of the Virginia and other Confederate vessels, she went out 
to meet them. In the engagement that followed, which lasted about 
three and a half hours, the Monitor, by reason of her light draft, had 
the advantage of hauling off into shallow water when closely pressed. 
The Virginia, drawing, as she did, twenty-two feet of water, was con- 
fined to the channel of the Roads, while the Monitor could leave the 
channel at pleasure. The engagement was mainly at close quarters, 
however, and especially when the Virginia was aground. Captain 
Worden endeavoring at that time to cripple her by reaching her rudder 
and propeller. At times during the engagement the two vessels were 
not more than forty or fifty yards apart, and once they were in actual 
collision, the Virginia striking her antagonist a glancing blow with 
her bow. As the Virgmia lost her prow when she rammed the Cum- 
berland, she inflicted no damage upon the Monitor, but rather in- 
creased the leak in her own bow by reason of the impact. The engage- 
ment between the ironclads lasted until the neighborhood of twelve 
o'clock, when the Monitor, retiring to .shoal water in the direction of 
Fortress Monroe, the Virginia, after firing about a dozen shot at the 
Minnesota, five or six of which took effect, returned to the Xavy Yard, 
arriving there late in the afternoon. When she reached the Yard she 
presented a battered appearance. Her two boats and one anchor 
had been shot away, her smoke stack and funnels had l)een riddled 
with missiles of various sizes, and a large number of dents were visible 
on her armor, where she had been struck by hostile shot. One of these 
dents about midships, and half way between her water line and the 
top of her armor, was larger and deeper than any other in its vi- inity, 
and the shot that made it must have struck her with terrific force. 
She came from the conflict with her flag attached to a boarding pike 
fastened to the smoke stack. When she was placed in the dry dock 
and examined, only six of her outer plates were found to be broken. 
None of the inner ones were injured. The vessels engaged on the 
Confederate side carried twenty-seven guns. Those on the Federal 
side carried more than two hundred. When the Virginia passed and 
silenced the Newport News batteries, a shell from her blew up a trans- 

John L. Porter, »ho Constructed the Vi 

port schooner at the wliarf, another sunk a schooner nearljy, and a 
third vessel— a schooner— was captured and sent to the Navy Yard. 
The operations of the Virginia on the 8th of March were of such 
a decisive character that there has been no dispute as to what she 
did, but the failure of Lieutenant Jones, the following day, to destroy 
the Minnesota, after Captain Worden was wounded and the Monitor 
had retired from the engagement, gave rise to claims for victory on 
the part of the latter, that are disproved by official records. Veiy 
many persons have been taught in history to believe that the Monitor 
destroyed the Virginia, when, as a matter of fact, the former, on two 
notable occasions— the 11th of April and the 8th of May— declined 
to meet the latter. Any reader who doubts the accuracy of this state- 
ment is referred to Volume 7 of the "Records of the Union and Con- 
federate Navies," published last year by the Government. It is a 
book of eight hundred pages, and contains a vast deal of information 
in the form of official reports, orders, etc., relating to the two vessels 
that figured so prominently in Hampton Roads in the Spring of 1862. 
A few extracts from the reports contained in this volume may interest 
the reader. On the 12th of March, three days after the engagement 
between the Virginia and the Monitor, Lieutenant S. R. Greene, who 
succeeded Captain John L. Worden, after the latter was injured, in 
his report to Secretary Welles, makes this statement: "At 8:45 a. m. 
we opened fire upon the Merrimac and continued the action mitil 11:30 
a. m., when Captain Worden was injured in the eyes by the explosion 
of a shell from the Merrimac upon the outside of the eye-hole in the 
pilot house, exactly opposite his eye. Captain Worden then sent for 
me and told me to take charge of the vessel. We continued the action 
until 12:15 p. m., when the Merrimac retreated to Sewall's Point and 
we -went to the Minnesota and remained by her until she was afloat." 
On the 10th of March, two days before the date of the alcove. 
Captain G. J. Van Brunt, of the Minnesota, made his report to the 
Navy Department. It was the most interesting of all those forwarded 
by the commanders of the different Federal vessels. In it he said: 
"The Merrimack, finding she could make nothing of the Monitor, 
turned her attention to me. In the morning she had put an 11-inch 
shot under my counter near the water line, and now, on her second 
approach, I opened upon her with all my broadside guns and 10-inch 
pivot, a broadside which would have blown out of the water any tim- 
ber-built ship in the world. She returned my fire with her rifled bow 
gun with a small shell, which passed through the Chief Engineer's state- 
room, through the engineers' mess-room, amidships, and burst in the 
boatswain's room, tearing four rooms all into one in its passage, ex- 
ploding two charges of powder, which set the ship on fire, but it was 

promptly extinguished hy a, party headed by my first lieutenant; her 
second shot went through the 1)oilcr of the tugboat Dragon, exploding 
it and causing some consternation on Ixiard my ship for the moment, 
until the matter was explained. This time I had concentrated upon 
her an incessant fire from my gun deck, spar dec-k and forecastle pivot 
guns, and was informed Ijy my marine odicer, who was stationed near 
the poop, that at least fifty solid shot struck her on her slanting side 
without ijroducing any apparent efifect. By the time she had fired 
her third shell the little Monitor had come down upon her, placing 
herself lictween us, and compelled her to change her position, in doing 
which she grounded, and again I poured into her all the guns which 
could Ije brought to l^ear upon her. As soon as she got off she stood 
down the bay, the little battery chasing her with all speed, when sud- 
denly the Merrimack turned around and ran full speed into her an- 
tagonist. For a moment I was anxious, but instantly I saw a shot 
plunged into the iron roof of the Merrimack, whic-h surely must have 
damaged her. For some time after the rebels concentrated their 
whole l)attery upon the tower and pilot house of the Monitor, and soon 
after the latter stood down for Fortress Monroe, and we thought it 
prol)abIe that she had exhausted her supply of ammunition or sus- 
tained some injury. 8oon after the Merrimack and two other steamers 
headed for my ship, and I then felt to the fullest extent my condition. 
I was hard and immo\'ably aground, and they could take position 
under my stem and rake me. I had expended most of my solid shot 
and my ship was badly crippled and my officers and men were worn 
out with fatigue; but even then, in this extreme dilemma, I determined 
never to give up the ship to the rebels, and, after consulting my officers, 
I ordered every preparation to be made to destroy the ship after all 
hope was gone to save her. On ascending the poop deck I observed 
that the enemy's vessels had changed their course and were heading 
for Craney Island." 

Lieutenant Catesby Jones, who commanded the Virginia in the 
fight with the Monitor, agrees with Captain Van Brunt relative to the 
Monitor withdrawing from the action before the Virginia did. Here 
is what he says in his report, which was forwarded to Secretary Mallory 
by Captain Buchanan: "At daylight on the 9th we saw that the 
Minnesota was still ashore, and that tliere was an iron Isattery near 
her. At eight o'clock we ran down to meet 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 draft of the ship ren- 
dered it exceedingly difficult to work lier. We ran ashore about a 
mile from the frigate and were backing fifteen minutes before we got 

off. We continued to fire at the Minnesota and blew up a steamer 
alongside of her, and we also engaged the Monitor, 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 Mon- 
itor having rmi into shoal water, which prevented our doing her any 
further injury, we ceased firing at 12 o'clock and proceeded to Nor- 

Upon the return of the Virginia to the Na^y Yard she was placed 
in the dry dock, remaining there about three weeks, during which 
time a new and improved prow was fastened to her bow to replace 
the one lost in ramming the Cumberland, her two guns which were 
injured in the first day's fight by shot striking them through open port 
holes, were replaced by two improved ones, six of her outer plates of 
iron that wei-e injured were replaced by perfect ones, and 432 plates 
of armor, weighing 248 tons, extending four feet down from the knuckle, 
were placed upon her. Improved shot had been furnished her, and 
when, on April 4th, she emerged from the dock, she was a complete 
vessel, with the exception of her port shutters, eight in number, which 
had not been fitted to her. Commodore Josiah Tatnall, of Georgia, 
had been ordered to command her, and so great was the demand for 
her to resume offensive operations, that on the 11th of April she visited 
Hampton Roads and offered battle. 

After moving al:)Out the Roads for a time she took a position not 
far from the two forts fFort Monroe and Rip Raps), so as to cover 
the operations of her wooden consorts, and sent the Jamestown in 
toward Hampton bar to capture three transports that were anchored 
there. The movement was successful, the three vessels being taken 
from imder the gmis of Fortress Monroe and towed to the Navy Yard. 

The most interesting account of this visit that appears in the 
Records was contained in a lengthy telegraphic dispatch dated April 
nth, sent to the Secretary of War at Washington, by Mr. C. C. Fulton, 
the owner and editor of the Baltimore American. In it Mr. Fulton, 
after describing what happened when the Virginia made her appear- 
ance, expressed his feelings in the following language: 

"I said two days since that we were looking for the JMerrimack 
and sunshine together; both are here this morning. Day opened 
bright and clear, with the broad expanse of Hampton Roads almost 
unruffled by wave. About 7 o'clock a signal gun from the Miimesota 
turned all eyes towards Sewell's Point, and, coming out from under 
the land, almost obscured by a d^m haze, the Merrimack was seen, fol- 
lowed by the Yorktown, Jamestown, and four small vessels, altogether 
seven in number. There wa.? nstantaneous activity among the 

transports and vessels in llu> upper roads to get out of the way of the 
steamboats, several of which were crowded with troops, and moved 
down out of danger. Steam tugs ran whistling and screammg about, 
towing strings of vessels behind them, whilst sloops, schooners and 
brigs taking advantage of what air there was, got up all sail and 
moved out of harm's way. In the course of an hour the appearance 
of crowded roads was greatly altered. 

"Forest of masts between Fortress Monroe and Sewell's Point 
disappeared, and the broad, open expanse of water bore on its surface 
the rebel fleet and two French and one English men-f)f-war, which, 
with steam up, still maintained position. 

"Curious maneuvers. 8.30 o'clock. For the last hour the 
maneuvers of the reliel fleet have apparently been directed towards 
decoying our fleet up towards Sewell's Point. When the Merrimack 
first appeared she stood directly across the mouth of Elizabeth river, 
followed by her consorts as if they were bound for Newport News. 

"The Merrimack approached the English sloop-of-war, and after 
apparently communicating with her, fell slowly and moved back 
toward her consorts in the rear. The French and English vessels then 
moved up as if they had been informed that the lower roads were to 
be the scene of conflict and they had been warned to get out of range. 

"For an hour the rebel fleet kept changing position, without 
making any decided advance in any direction. 

"On our part no movement was made. The Monitor, witli steam 
up and in fighting trim, laid quietly near her usual anchorage. The 
Naugatuck (Stevens' battery) came out and took position alongside 
the Monitor. Signals were exchanged between our vessels, the Fort 
and Rip Raps, but no movements were made. Curiosity grew rapidly 
into suspense. A bold stroke. At length the Yorktown [should be 
Jamestown] moved rapidly up, and, after advancing well toward 
Newport News, steamed rapidly toward Hampton. 

"The object was seen to be the capture of three sailing vessels, 
two brigs and a schooner, transports, which w'ere lying either aground 
or had not been furnished with a steam tug in order to make their 
escape. The bold impertinence of manoeuvering continued. The 
apparent apathy of our fleet excited surprise and indignation. 

"There was a rebel boat, not built for war purposes, having the 
protection of the Merrimack and her consorts, where it appeared to 
impartial eyes she could easily be cut ofT, and yet no attempt on our 
part to do it. Of course there were good reasons for this poliiy, though 
the crowd could not see it." 

Commodore Tatnall, before making this visit to the Roads, made 
all necessary arrangements to board and capture the Monitor, should 

the two vessels again come to close quarters, and the Federal authori- 
ties, during the month that had intervened since the Virginia was last 
in Hampton Roads, had worked out a plan to destroy the Virginia, 
should opportunity offer. This was for a number of swift, powerful 
steamships to run into her and disable her when she attempted to 
pass between Fort Monroe and the Rip Raps. The plan appears to 
have been arranged at the residence of Mr. Henry B. Ren wick, 21 
Fifth Avenue, New York, and Cornelius Vanderbilt, the great ship- 
owiier, visited Old Point and remained there for several days for the 
purpose of giving instructions to those who were to execute it. The 
powerful steamship that he gave to the Government, and five or six 
other large steamships chartered by the Navy Department, kept 
steam up night and day for several weeks, to be in readiness to ram 
and destroy the "Rebel monster" when she should attempt to reach 
Chesapeake Bay, but she never made the attempt; nor did the Mon- 
itor move out into the Roads where Commodore Tatnall desired to 
engage her. The crews of two of these chartered vessels refused 
to do duty and were replaced by volunteers. 

During the next four weeks— or, to be more definite, until the 
8th of May— the Virginia alternated between Hampton Roads and 
the Navy Yard, all of her port shutters having, in the meantime, been 
fitted to her. She was then a complete iron-clad, so far as it was pos- 
siljle to make her, but events were rapidly transpiring that would 
bring her career to a close. 

The operations of General Bumside in North Carolina, in the 
rear of Norfolk, and the transfer of General McClellan's army from 
the neighborhood of Washington to the Virginia Peninsula, between 
the York and James Rivers, caused the Confederate authorities to 
determine to evacuate Norfolk and vicinity to prevent the capture of 
the 15,000 troops in the department. As early as March 26th the 
commandant of the Navy Yard was confidentially informed of the in- 
tended action, and ordered to quietly prepare to send valuable machin- 
ery to the interior of North Carolina. The peremptory order of General 
Joseph E. Johnston for the abandonment of the Navy Yard was com- 
municated to Captain S. S. Lee by Secretary Mallory, in a letter dated 
Richmond, May 3d, 1862. The work of evacuation was expected to 
be accomplished in two weeks. The citizens at first would not believe 
the reports of the intended abandonment of the department, but they 
were very soon convinced of their truth. The work had been progress- 
ing several days when, on May 8th, an incident occurred that hastened 
matters and brought about results that were far-reaching in their 
hnportance. Captain James Byers, of the tug J. B. White, had Ijeen 
instructed to proceed to Sewall's Point early on the morning of the 

Stli, and tow to Norfolk a vessel tontaining the most valual)le gun at 
that pUuc, an 11-inch Columbiad. He certainly made an early start, 
as the records show that he reached Old Point before eight o'clock. 
By his desertion General A\'ool learned that Norfolk was Ijeing evacu- 
ated, and shortly after 12 o'clock the same day a squadron composed 
of the iron-dads Monitor and Naugatuck, gunboats Seminole and 
Dakotah, and sloojjs-of-war Susquehanna and San Jacinto, commenced 
to bombard the batteries at Sewall's Point, which were being dis- 
mantled. The Virginia at that time was taking on stores at the Na\'y 
Yard, Ijut as soon as the bombardment commenced she started for 
the Roads to give battle to the boml^arding squadron. When she 
reached the neighborhood of Craney Island, where there is a bend in 
the Elizabeth River, and came into view of the six vessels named, 
they all immediately returned to Old Point. She then proceeded to 
the neighborhood of the Rip Raps and fired a shot to windward. This 
was her last challenge. The historical accuracy of this statement 
can be verified by referring to a telegram of Commodore Goldsborough 
to President Lincoln, to abstracts from the logs of the Minnesota, 
Dakotah, Susquehanna, Naugatuck, St. Lawrence and San Jacinto, 
and to reports of Captain John P. Gillis, of the Seminole, and Lieu- 
tenant Constable, of the steamer E. A. Stevens. The report, however, 
whi'h contains the fullest information, was that furnished by Com- 
mander W. N. W. Howlett, V. C. of H. B. M. S. Rinaldo, dated 
Fortress Monroe, May 10th, 1862, and forwarded to the British gov- 
ernment by Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K. C. B., on 24th of Jlay, 
1862. This is an extract from it: 

"May the 8th, 1862. The same morning a Confederate tugboat 
arrived at Fortress Monroe from Norfolk, having deserted. She 
reported that the Confederates were preparing to evacuate Norfolk, 
etc., and that they had sunk the Virginia (Merrimiick). On this in- 
telligence becoming known, at 12.30 p. m. of the same day a Federal 
squadron, consisting of the Dacotah and Oneida, screw sloops, 6 guns 
each; the San Jacinto, screw, 11 guns; Susquehanna, paddle sloop, 15 
guns; Monitor and Naugatuck, iron cased batteries, moved up the 
river towards Sewell's Point and commenced shelling the Confederate 
battery on that point, at very long range. This was the prelude to 
their intended attack on Norfolk. The Confederates returned a slow 
fire. I suppose their guns are not of very long range. The Federal 
squadron continued firing to 2.30 p. m. without intermission. The 
Monitor at the time was about 1,800 yards from Sewell's Point. She 
was then observed to be coming ])ack again toward the rest of the 
squadron, which were some 4,000 yards from the pohit, and in the 
direction of Newport News. 

"The smoke of a steamer could be seen rising ahove the trees and 
moving towards Hampton Roads from the direction of Norfolk. At 
3 p. m. the Confederate iron-cased battery Virginia rounded Sewell's 
Point [should be Lambert's Point] and the whole of the Federal 
squadron steamed down quickly under the guns of the fortress. * * 
"As the Virginia alone fame within the range of their guns and 
those of Fort Wool, or Rip Raps, the Federal frigate Minnesota, accom- 
panied by four large steamers, which are intended to act as rams, pro- 
ceeded up the river [liay, it should be] abreast of Old Point, and joined 
the rest of the squadron. With the exception of a few shots fired 
from the Rip Raps at the Virginia, the Federals made no attemjit to 
niok^st her, but, on the contrary, as she approached them they steamed 
away from her. They left off firing at Sewell's Point immediately on 
sighting her coming from Norfolk. * * * * 

"The Virginia, havmg driven the Federal fleet away, returned 
and anchored under Sewell's Point, where she now remains." 

The information conveyed by the captain of the tug J. B. White 
relative to the evacuation of Norfolk enabled General Wool to hasten 
it by landing a force on the Bay shore, about ten miles distant from 
the city. This occurred on Saturday, the 10th of May, two days 
after the bombardment of Sewell's Point. The Virginia was then lying 
in the river near Craney Island, and Commodore Tatnall, in his report 
of the Virginia's destruction, made in Richmond on the 14th of May, 
states that he did not learn of the withdrawal of the troops and the 
destruction of the Navy Yard until se\'en o'clock in the evening (May 
10th). He then recites how he lightened the Virginia for the purpose 
of taking her up the James River, and after she had been so lightened 
until she was vulnerable, he was informed by his lieutenant that the 
pilots reported that the vessel could not reach the desired point up the 
river on account of a West wind, whi( h had prevailed for several days. 
He then determined to destroy her, which he did by causing her to be 
set on fire. His report says: "The ship was accordingly put on shore 
as near the mainland in the vicinity of Craney Island as possible, and 
the crew landed. She was then fired, and after burning fiercely for 
upwards of an hour, blew up a little before five o'clock on the morn- 
ing of the 11th." Thus ended the career of the Virginia, which had 
lasted but two months. Never at any time, until the last visit to 
Hampton Roads, May 8th, was she capable of doing what was first 
expected of her— that of safely passing Fort Monroe and the Rip Raps— 
and w^hen she reached her perfect condition the changes of her sur- 
roundings were such that she had no base of supplies and was con- 
fined to Hampton Roads. 

On the Virginia the loss was two killed and eight wounded on the 

Stli. On the 9th there were no casuaUies. The entire Confederate 
squadron, consisting of the ironclad and five gunboats, Patriciv Henry, 
Jamestown, Teaser, Beaufort and Raleigh— lost seven men killed and 
seventeen wounded. These figures are from the Norfolk Day Book 
of March 11th, 1862. The shots that killed Lieutenant Tayloe and 
Midshipman Hutter and which wounded Captain Buchanan and Lieu- 
tenant Minor, were fired by General Mansfield's soldiers on shore, while 
the Congress, with two white flags flying, was being surrendered. 

The destruction of the Virginia by her commander caused intense 
feeling in the South; so much so, indeed, that a court of inquiry was 
held and Commodore Tatnall was censured for his action. He de- 
manded a court martial, and that body exonerated him. Admiral 
Franklin Buchanan was a member of the court. 

A few years after the close of the war efforts were made to induce 
Congress to pay prize money to Captain Worden and the crew of the 
Monitor for their "services in destroying the Virginia." A bill was passed 
in one branch of the Forty-second Congress making such an appro- 
priation, but it failed to secure action in the other house. Eight years 
later the claim was revived, the bill authorizing an appropriation of 
S200,000. The whole subject of the Virginia's operations in Hamp- 
ton Roads was carefully investigated by the Committee on Naval 
Affairs of the House, and on the 31st of May, 18S4, Mr. Ballentine, 
for the committee, submitted a very exliaustive report, which was 
adopted, rejecting the claim. The committee, in submitting the 
result of their labors, concluded their report in the following language: 

"All the evidence leads us clearly to the opinion that the Monitor, 
after her engagement with the Merrimac on the 9th of March, declined 
again to engage her, though offered the opportunity, and that so great 
doulit existed with the United States naval and military authorities as 
to the power of the Monitor to successfully meet the Merrimac, that 
orders were given her commander by the President not to bring on an 
engagement. It also appears that the Merrimac, so far from being 
seriousl}'' injured, was enaliled after the engagement to protect the 
approaches to Norfolk and Richmond until after the evacuation. 

"We assume that the proof shows that the only serious damage 
sustained by the Merrimac was inflicted by the Cumljerland, and that 
the Merrimac went back to Norfolk when her adversaries were out of 
her reach; and they being in shoal water, and she, on account of the 
great depth of water which she drew, unable to attack them, went into 
dock for repairs, and again came out and offered liattle, which was 
refused; and that eventually, on the evacuation of Norfolk by the 

Josiah Tatnall, who Ci>mnianded Virginia from Marcii 27th L'nUl She was Destroyed, May lllh, 

Confederate forces, she was destroyed by her officers and crew, to pre- 
vent her falhng into the hands of the Union forces, and that, there- 
fore, her destruction was not the result of her engagement with the 
Monitor, and that if the proof shows this state of facts to exist, the 
claim of the petitioners in this memorial ought not to be allowed." 
Then, after submitting the proof which fully substantiates the above 
assumption, it concludes: "Holding these views, we respectfully re- 
port adversely to the passage of the bUl." 

The Virgmia was 262 feet 9 mches long and she drew 22 feet when 
ready for action. Her shield was 167 feet 7 inches in length, and was 
covered with two layers of iron that were rolled at the Tredegar Iron 
Works in Richmond. The plates were eight inches wide, two inches 
thick and about twenty feet long. Their capacity for resistance was 
tested by Lieutenant John M. Brooke, of the Ordnance Department at 
Richmond. The first layer ran fore and aft, and the top layer was 
placed up and down. The timber backing was twenty-two inches 
thick, and the iron armor four inches. Her shutters were of ham- 
mered iron, four inches thick, and her pilot houses were of cast iron 
twelve inches thick, with four holes each for observation. They were 
placed at each end of her shield. The pitch of the gun deck was seven 
feet, and the iron grating above, forming a deck, was two inches thick. 
There were three hatchways in the top of the grating, with pivot shut- 
ters. She carried two seven-inch rifled pivot guns, one at the bow 
and the other at the stern, and eight nine-inch Dahlgren guns, four on 
each side. Two of the latter were disabled during the first day's 
fight by shell coming into the port-holes, and they were replaced later 
by two six-inch rifled guns. The port-holes of her bow and stern guns 
(six in all, three at each end of the shield) were protected by shutters 
on the 8th and 9th of Manh. The other port-holes, eight in number, 
were not. The defects of the Virginia— the weakness of her engines ancl 
her inability to stand heavy seas— were made known to the Confederate 
authorities in the reports of Chief Engineer H. Ashton Ramsay and Com- 
modore Tatnall, which may be found in Volume 7, "Naval War Records." 
The crew of the Virginia numbered three hundred and twenty, but in or- 
der to obtain her full complement of men it was necessary to procure vol- 
unteers from the army. A call was made upon the Norfolk United Artil- 
lery for men to supply the deficiency. The entire company responded, 
but as only thirty-one were needed, that number was selected. The 
following is a list of them as far as remembered by those now living: 
Captain Thomas Kevill, John Thomas Bullock, John Gillis, William 
Bums, John Capps (wounded), William Collona, William Crosby, 
Richard Carstarphen, William Drake, James Duncan, A. J Dalton 
(wounded), Jacob Mowle, B. A. Richardson, Albert C. Griswold John 

Belote, George Kiiifilit, (Icorgie Bowers. Ike Walling, Alex. Spence, 
Charles Spence, Daniel Knowles, John D. Smith, Edward Applewhite, 
William Dudley, Miles K. Bell, George Scultatus, Eleazor Stillman, 

John Flinn and Graham. All but six of the above are now 

dead. Five of the survivors reside in Norfolk, and the sixth is a resi- 
dent of Jackson, N. C. 

In the summer of 1S61, by direction of Commodore French For- 
rest, the Norfolk County Rifle Patriots, commanded by Captain Wm. 
Etheredge, was stationed at the Navy Yard to guard that great naval 
depot. Captain Etheredge was instructed to observe the utmost 
vigilance with reference to the iron-clad that was in course of con- 
struction, and although five attempts were made to bum the Yard 
while he was on guard duty, there was never an attempt to destroy 
the Merrimac. Every night, after the workmen ceased labor, he 
caused the vessel to be searched by picked men from his company, 
every part of her, from stem to stern and from the keel to her top 
deck, being thoroughly examined. Captain Etheredge afterwards 
became major of the Forty-first Virginia Regiment, and is living in 
Norfolk at this time. He is now almost 87 years old. 

The strength of the vessels and batteries that fought the Virginia 
appears in this tiible. 


CoDgress 406 .50 

Cumberland 2SS 24 

Minnesota .540 47 

iMonitor 4!) 2 

Koanoke :547 44 

St. Lawrence •S74 52 

Total .... 2,014 219 

Two liiUteries at Newport News, aliout .... 20 

The gunboat Whitehall, four guns; tug Dragon, and gunboats 
William Whildon and Rescue, are mentioned as having been injured 
by .'fhells from the Virginia. 

March 8th, 1862. 

Flag Officer — Franklin Buchanan, of Maryland. 

Executive and Ordnance OfTicer — Lieutenant Catesby Ap. R. Jones, 
of Virginia. 

Flag Officer — Lieutenant R. D. Minor, of Virginia. 

Lieutenants — Charles C. Simms, of Virginia; Hunter Davidson, 
of Virginia; J. Taylor Wood, of Louisiana; J. R. Eggleston, of Mis- 
sissippi, and Walter R. Butt, of Virginia. 

Captain of Marines — R. T. Thom, of Alabama. 

Captain of United Artillery — Thomas Kevill (volunteer). 

Midshipmen — R. C. Foote, of Tennessee; H. H. Marmaduke, of 
Missouri; H. B. Littlepage, of Virginia; W. J. Craig, of Kentucky; 
J. C. Long, of Tennessee, and L. M. Roots, of Virginia. 

Paymaster — James Semple, of Virginia. 

Surgeon — Dinwiddie Phillips; Assistant Surgeon — Algernon S. 
Garnett, both of Virginia. 

Chief Engineer (acting) — H. Ashton Ramsay, of Virginia. 

Assistants — John W. Tynan, of Virginia; Loudon Campbell, of 
Virginia; Benjamin Herring, of North Carolina; E. A. Jack, of Vir- 
ginia, and E. V. White, of Georgia. 

Boatswain — Charles H. Hasker, of Virginia. 

Gunner — Charles B. Oliver, of Virginia. 

Carpenter — Hugh Lindsay, of Virginia. 

Pilots — Wm. Parrish, George Wright, Hezekiah Williams, 
William Clark and Thomas Cunningham, all of Virginia. 

Clerk — Arthur Sinclair, Jr., of Virginia. 

Volunteer Aide — Lieutenant Douglas Forrest, of Virginia. 

On the 9th of March, when the Monitor was engaged. Captain 
Buchanan's place was taken by Lieutenant Jones, and Lieutenant 
Simms, in addition to his own duties, acted as Executive Officer. Lieu- 
tenant Jones relieved Captain Buchanan, when the latter was wounded 
on the evening of the 8th, while the Virginia was near the Congress. 


A history of the Hampton Roads engagements would not be com- 
plete without giving an account of the operations of the five wooden 
vessels that co-operated with the Virginia. They were: Gunboat 
Raleigh, Lieutenant J. W. Alexander, commanding, mounting one 
32-pound rifled gun; Beaufort, Lieutenant Wm. H. Parker, one rifled 
32-pounder; Steamer Patrick Henry, Commander John R. Tuckei, 
ten guns; Steamer Jamestown, Lieutenant J. N. Barney command- 
ing, two guns; and Gunboat Teaser, Lieutenant W. A. Webb command- 
ing, one rifled 32-pounder. The Raleigh, Beaufort and Teaser were 
mere tugs; the Jamestown and Patrick Henry were larger and faster. 
The latter two were owned by a company that has been succeeded by 
the present Old Dominion Steamship Company, and plied between New 
York, Norfolk and Richmond. When Virginia seceded they were up 
James River, and both were seized by the State authorities. Thej' 
were then known as the Yorktown and Jamestown. When they were 
converted into war vessels by the Confederates, their names were 
changed to Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, but the latter vessel 
figures in Captain Buchanan's official report as the Jamestown, and 
that is the name given her in most of the official reports. They were 
converted into war vessels by Naval Constructor Joseph Pierce and a 
force of workmen sent up to Richmond from the Gosport Navy Yard. 
The Jamestown had a brief career, as two months after the Hamp- 
ton Roads engagements she, with other vessels, was sunk near Drew- 
ry's Bluff, in James River, to obstruct the channel. The Patrick 
Henry's name clung to her, however, and she had a longer life. 
When the Confederate Congress decided to establish a school for naval 
cadets, she was made the training ship, and Captain Wm. H. Parker 
was chosen to conduct the school, which he did until the Sunday that 
Kicliiuoad was evacuated, when he and his cadets accompanied the 
('(lufcilerate Treasury Department on its journey southward. The 
Patrick Henry was set on fire that same afternoon and destroyed. 

As previously stated, the Raleigh and Beaufort accompanied the 
Virginia from the Navy Yai'd to Hampton Roads on the Sth. The 
James River s(|ua<lron, composed of the Patrick Henry, Jamestown 
and TcastM-, conunanded by Captain John R. Tucker, was then in 
James River, aljout twelve miles above Newport News. As soon as the 
Virginia's smoke was seen in the Elizabeth River, the squadron started 
for Hampton R(i:nl> .tml arrived at the mouth of the James River 
just as tlie Cuiiilicrl.inil i^oing down. In passing the strong Federal 
batteries at .\c\\ pni't \c\vs, at a distance of seven hundred yards, 
one of the Patrick Henry's steam pipes was injured by a shot, the cscap- 

ing steam scalding four men to death and causing injury to three others. 
The loss of life would have been greater but for the prompt action of Engi- 
neer Elias Hall, of Norfolk, in shutting off steam, to do which he risked 
his life. The vessel was towed out of action by the Jamestown, and 
later in the evening took part in the attack upon the Minnesota. Cap- 
tain \'an Brunt, in his report, states that the Patrick Henry and James- 
town did more damage to the Minnesota that afternoon (March 8th) 
than did the Virginia, for the reason that they came nearer to his 
vessel. Here is an extract from his report: "At 4 p. m. the Merri- 
mac, Jamestown and Patrick Henry bore down upon my vessel. Very 
fortunately the iron battery drew too much water to come within a 
mile of us. She took a position on my starboard bow, but did not 
fire with accuracy, and only one shot passed through the ship's bow. 
The two other steamers took their position on my port bow and stern, 
and their fire did most damage in killing and wounding men, inasmuch 
as they fired with rifled guns; but with the heavy gun that I could 
bring to bear upon them I drove them off, one of them apparently in 
a crippled condition." 

Midshipman Hutter, of the Raleigh, was killed by a Federal rifleman 
from the Newport^ News shore, while his vessel was alongside the Con- 
gress receiving the surrender of that frigate, and Lieutenant JamesTayloe, 
of the same vessel, was wounded fatally. During the duel between the 
ironclads on the 9th, the five wooden consorts of the ^'irginia remained in 
line of battle near Sewell's Point. On the Uth of April the same vessels 
accompanied the Virginia to the Roads, on which occasion the James- 
town captured three transports near the mouth of Hampton Creek. 
When the Virginia left the Navy Yard the last time, on May 8th, all 
the wooden vessels had gone up James River. They never returned, 
but the Patrick Henry outlived them all, as previously stated, her 
destruction taking place when Richmond was abandoned, April 2d, 


.News that the Confederates were constructing a great iron-dad 
liattory at the Gos])ort Navy Yard soon reached the North, and shortly 
thereafter the subject of construction of iron vessels was taken up by 
Congress. On the 3rd of August, 1861, that body made an appropri- 
ation for iron-clads. Designs were called for, and after some delay, 
three were selected for acceptance. One of these when tested proved 
a failure; the second, which was successful, required considerable time 
for construction, while the thinl — .lolin Ericsson's monitor — was capa- 
ble of being constructed within a brief space of time. The final con- 
tract with Mr. Ericsson was made (ui the 4th of October, and by the 
30th of the following January the hull of I lie Monitor was launched. 
The superiority of the North in the matter of resources was plainly 
demonstrated in the construction of this vessel. Three gangs of men, 
each working eight hours, were constantly employed from the time 
that the keel was laid until the hull was launched in East River. The 
battery left New York harbor March the 6th, and after a disagreeable 
voyage down the coast, although the wind was offshore, the Monitor 
passed Cape Henry about four o'clock Saturday afternoon, March 8th, 
and as she proceeded to Fortress Monroe her officers and crew could 
hear guns in the distance, fired bj- the Confederate and Federal fleets. 

Cai:)tain Worden reported to Secretary Welles at nine o'clock, by 
telegraph, that he had arrived at his destination and had been ordered 
by Fleet Captain Marston to proceed inmiediatcly to the assistance 
of the Minnesota, aground near Newport .News. .•\i)()ut midnight 
the ^Monitor reached the Minnesota, when Lieutenant S. 1). Greene 
wiMii on hoard that vessel, by direction of Captain Worden, and in- 
formed Cajitain Van Brunt that the Monitor would remain by him. 
.•\1 S:4.-) o'clock the next morninf; (Sunday) the Monitor opened fire 
ui)oii the Mrginia and continued the ai'tion until Captain Worden was 
injured, when she "sheered ofi" and proceeded in the direction of For- 
tress Monroe. As the accounts of this engagement, reported by Lieu- 
tenant Greene and Captain Van Brunt on one side, and by Lieutenant 
Catesby Jones on the other, have been given, it is not necessary to 
repeat what has already been .said. The appearance of the Monitor 
took the Confederates by surprise, and the gallant fight that .she made 
saved the Minnesota from destruction, but she, as well as the Vir- 
ginia, po.sscssed defects which were unknown to the pul)lic. Official 
records show that she declined to engage the Virginia on the 11th of 
April and the 8th of May, 1862, and that at Drewry's HlulT. on the 
l.^th of May, when the ironclad Galena, under the command of Com- 
modore Jolm Uodgers, was riddled with sliot from the small Confed- 

erate battery, she was imable to elevate her guns so as to he of any 
assistance in the engagement then in progress. She made a visit to 
Norfolk harbor on the Uth of May, before going up James River, and 
remained for a short while at the naval anchorage. During the cam- 
paign of MtClellan on the Peninsula she did duty up the James, but 
her first engagement was really her last, as she was ordered to Beau- 
fort, North Carolina, the latter part of the year. She left Hampton 
Roads on the 29th of December, 1862, in tow of the steamer Rhode 
Island, for her voyage down the Carolina coast. On January 2nd, 1863, 
she encountered a storm, which, increasing in severity, caused her to 
founder about midnight, sixteen of her crew losing their lives with her. 
She went down off Hatteras. 

Having referred to defects in the Virginia, it is in order to let the 
reader know what the defects of the Monitor were. On April 30th, 
Lieutenant H. A. Wise, of the United States Navy, wrote a letter to 
Lieutenant Badger, of the same service, in which he made the state- 
ment: "With reference to the Monitor, the moment I jumped aboard 
of her after the fight I saw that a steam tug with twenty men could 
have taken the upper part of her within twenty seconds, and perhaps 
the inside, too, by dropping two or three 12-pound shni]iiicl down in 
her little steam-pipe, or at all events by choking the luiivt, mikI even 
could that not have been done, it was quite easy to li:i\c daiK ol round 
with the dome, perfectly safe from harm." 

On the 22nd of May, while the Monitor was on duty up James 
River, Lieutenant William N. JefTers, her commander, wa-ote a letter 
to Commodore Goldsborough, reciting the defects of his vessel, in 
whi';h this paragraph occurs: "The opportune arrival of the vessel 
at Hampton Roads, and her success in staying the career of the Merri- 
mack, principally by the moral effect of her commander's gallant inter- 
position between that vessel and the Minnesota, caused an exaggerated 
confidence to be entertained by the public in the powers of the Moni- 
tor, which it was not good policy to check. I, however, feel that I owe 
it to you, sir, as commander of the fleet, and to the department, to put 
on record my deliberate opinion of her powers. With her present guns 
she cannot engage another iron-plated vessel of good construction w'ith 

These letters, which were printed in "War Records," show plainly 
why the Monitor declined the Virginia's challenge of battle on the 11th 
April and the 8th of May, the first thirty, and the latter sixty days 
after the fight of March 9th. 

ornciiRS or the aiomtor. 

Commander — Lieutenant J. L. Wordkn. 

Executive Ofii( er — Lieutenant S. D. Greene. 

Xavifiating Officer and Acting Master — Louis N. Stoudkr. 

Acting Master — J. N. Webber. 

Acting Master's Mate — G. Frkdrickson. 

Acting Assistant Surgeon — I). C. Lourr.. 

Acting Assistant Paymaster — W. F. 

Chief Engineer — A. C. Sti.mers. 

First Assistant Engineer — Isaac X i:\vton. 

Second Assistant Engineer — A. Campbki.i.. 

Third A.ssistant Engineer — R. \V. Hands. 

Fourth Assistant Engineer — M. T. Sin.stkom. 

Captain's Clerk— D. Tofeey. 

(Quartermaster — Peter Williams. 

(lunner's Mate — J. Crown. 

Boatswain's Mate — J. Stockinc;. 

'I'hc crew numbered forty-nine men. 

The .Monitor fired forty-one solid shot during her engagement with 
the \'irginia. These shot weighed about 170 jiounds each. Her turret 
was struck seven times by shell from her antagonist, the indentations 
b3ing about three inches deep. 

.\ fool note in \'()lume 7. of "Xaval War Records," states that Cap- 
tain Worden did not make his ofhcial report of the Hampton Roads 
fight until the summer of 1868 — more than six 3'ears after it occurred. 
Desiring to make this history as complete as possible, the Secretary of 
the Navy was requested, at the time that the work was commenced, 
to give information as to where this report could be seen, or as to the 
(ourse to lie pursueil to secure a copy fi'om the Navy De]iartinent. On 
the 10th (if .March llic following reply was received: 

X'avv Department. 

Washinctux. March 16th. 1<K)7. 

Mr. Joseph G. Fiveash, Norfolk. Va. 

Sir: — Replying to your letter of the 1st inst., requesting a copy of 
the Re]x)rt of Ca])tain Worden on the engagement between the " Mon- 

itor" and the " Merrimac," in Hampton Roads, on JIarch Sth and 9th, 
1862, I have to inform you that the same is not available for distribu- 

By direction of the Secretary of the Navy. 

Very respectfully, 

B. F. Peters, Chief Clerk. 

m^ ^ 




ap of Hampton Roads and Adjaci 

Capt. Thos. Kevill, Volunleer. 
Wm. Jarvis, Carpenter's Male 
E. V. White, Ass't Engineer. 
C. B. Oliver, Gunner, C. S. N. 

C. J. Creekmur, Engir 
Lieut. Jas. E. Barry. \ 
Andrew J. Dalton, Vd 

MAY 3 1907 


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