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Then came the fearful moment of the Cumberland, and at three o'clock trial. The Merrimac, sure of her prey, in the afternoon, she was ready to complunged headlong into the side of the plete the destruction of the Congress helpless frigate. The iron horn or and the other vessels not far off. Sceram, striking her just forward the main ing the fate of the Cumberland, the chains, made a deep gash, knocking a commander of the Congress set the jib hole in the side near the water line as and topsail, and with the assistance of large as the head of a hogshead, and a gunboat, ran the vessel ashore. driving her back upon her anchors with The Merrimac took a position
1862. great force, while the water ran into her astern, at a distance of about 150 hold. Slowly drawing back, the Mer- yards, and raked the Congress fore and rimac poured a broadside into the sink- aft with shells, while one of the smaller ing ship. Still the Cumberland main- steamers kept up a fire on her starboard tained the unequal contest. Officers quarter. The two stern guns of the and men without a single voice of dis. Congress were her only means of desent, resolved never to surrender to the fence. These were soon disabled, one rebels. They stood by their guns up being dismounted, and the other having to the last moment; the dead, and the its muzzle knocked away, by the ter dying, and the wounded, strewed all rible fire of the enemy. around; the shots of the enemy pour Between four and five o'clock, Lieut. ing in upon the sinking frigate; the Smith, in command, was killed, and vessel on fire in the forward part; all Lieut. Prendergrast, deeming it utterly Lupe gone; yet the Cumberland waved useless to protract the fight, where his no white flag of surrender. Down she men were being slaughtered, and not sank, her hull grounding fifty-four feet a single gun could be brought to bear below the surface; but her glorious against the enemy, hauled down his flag still streamed at the topmast above flag, and surrendered to the Merrimac. the waves, and remained there long A small tug came along side, and all after the ram had departed. At the were ordered out of the ship, as she last, the men saved themselves as best was to be burned directly. Some of they could ; but many were drowned the troops on shore kept up a fire on the before a small steamer arrived from tug, and succeeded in driving her off; Newport News to their relief. Out of whereupon the Merrimac poured an. 376, officers and privates, 117 were other broadside into the Congress, known to be lost, about twenty-three although the white flag was flying at were missing, and the rest were saved.* her peak. With this inhuman act, the
The Merrimac had expended only Congress was left to her fate; hour about forty-five minutes in destroying after hour she burned, lighting up the * Lieut. Morris and the brave officers and men under
nder harbor till past midnight, when the his command, received the special acknowledgments magazine exploded, and the fragments and thanks of the navy department for “their courage of the lost frigate were scattered in and determination under the most disastrous and ap | palling circumstances."
every direction. There were 434,
135 officers and men, on the Congress ; 136 action; and providentially brought that were lost; the remainder were saved. help which none other was able to
The Minnesota, one of the first-class | afford. vessels in the nary, was the next object Untried, unknown, regarded with of the Merrimac's attention. Late in much doubt by many who were thought the afternoon, accompanied by two to be wise in such matters, this remarksteam tugs, she bore down upon the able vessel arrived at Fortress Monroe, Minnesota Fortunately, there was about ten o'clock in the evening. In not sufficient depth of water to allow every way a novelty; in appearance, of her coming very near; so, taking a not unlike what the Norfolk rebels position a mile distant, on the starboard termed her, “a Yankee cheese-box set bow, she opened fire, but did not ac on a raft;" and with hardly anything complish much by the operation. The visible but a flat iron deck on the surMinnesota lay aground about two face of the water, surmounted by a low miles from Newport News; and the round tower, pilot box, and smoke-pipe, St. Lawrence, also anxious to join in few supposed the Monitor capable of the contest, was grounded near by. performing what the next day fully As there was no chance of these vessels proved her ability to do. With a hull getting away that night, and as the impossible to be injured, and with a evening had already set in, the Merri- tower only ten feet high and twenty in mac steamed back to her anchorage, diameter, revolving readily, and mountsatisfied with what she had done, and ing two 11-inch guns, the Monitor was, waiting for the next day's light to in fact, a bomb-proof fort, of immense prove further her powers of destructive power and effectiveness.* ness. Two were reported to have The Monitor was now emphatically been killed; Buchanan, the commander, on her trial trip. She had just been and seven others wounded.
completed, had left New York under That was a gloomy Saturday night, orders, on the 6th of March, and bad not only to those in the vicinity of arrived in Hampton Roads on the even. Fortress Monroe, but to every part of ing of the 8th. The passage was ex. the country whither the electric tele- ceedingly rough and stormy, but the graph conveyed the astounding news Monitor proved to be a capital sea boat, of the Merrimac's doings. The Cum- and all on board of her were eager to berland was sunk in the waters, the test her capabilities in a deadly grapple Congress lay wrapped in flames, the with the Merrimac. Captain Worden Minnesota was helplessly imbedded in was directed to lay the Monitor along che sand, nothing appeared to be safe, side the Minnesota, which he accord. for nothing on land or water seemed to
* For a full and carefully prepared account of ironed be able to meet the terrible assaults of
or armored vessels, in referenco both to our own and the Merrimac. It was at this point, to the navies of other nations, see Appleton's "Ameriwher. hope was well nigh gone that can Annual Cyclopædia,” pp. 604-628. See also the
first volume of Boynton's “ History of the Navy during the Monitor appeared on the scene of the Rebellion.”
ingly did, reaching that position at two orders to act on the defensive; and as o'clock on Sunday morning.
the lesson just given to the rebels was At daylight, the Merrimac was astir a severe one, it was thought that it again, ready to sweep from her path would probably answer for the present.* every obstacle, and expecting probably! The Merrimac was seriously injured, to clear the Roads entirely of the block but to what extent was not made pub. ading fleet, if not to bombard and take lic; the Monitor came out of the contest Fortress Monroe itself. She had numer- unbarmed, except by a tremendous ous attendants, even those who came blow from a shot striking the pilot merely to look on, and enjoy the sight house. Capt. Worden, who was in the of what the monster ram was to do in pilot house, directing the movements of the way of ruin. The Monitor took the vessel, was stunned by the concus. her position at once in front of the sion, and for a time partially blinded. Minnesota, and discharged one of her On rallying, he was greeted with the 11-inch Dahlgrens upon the Merrimac.cheering news that the Minnesota was It was an astounding challenge, like a safe, and the Merrimac driven off to lier pigmy assaulting a giant; but a hund. rebel home.t red and sixty-eight pound shot was not Gen. Shields, with his division at to be despised, coine from where it | Winchester (sce p. 131), having ascermight, and so the Merrimac prepared tained, March 19th, that Jackson was to make short work of her diminutive strongly posted near Mount Jackson, assailant. It was soon found, however, resolved to try and draw him out by a that the Monitor was not casily to be feigned retreat, and thus fight beaten. Broadside after broadside prohim
to greater advantage. duced no effect upon her; it was of no The troops were sent off towards Cenavail to attempt, as the Merrimac did,
* Mr. A. C. Stimers, chief engineer of the United to run her down, and crush her in that States service, was on board the Monitor as governway; the active Monitor, with her re ment inspector. He wrote a spirited letter on the day
of the fight to Captain Ericsson, the inventor, lauding volving battery ever pointing full upon
the Monitor in high terms:—“I congratulate you," he the ram, poured forth shot incessantly said, “ upon your great success. Thousands have this
day blessed you. I have heard whole crews cheer you. upon the sides, at the bow and the
Every man feels that you have saved this place to the stern, seeking some vulnerable spot. nation by furnishing us with the means to whip an The contest raged for hours, when the
iron-clad frigate, that was, until our arrival, having it
all her own way with our most powerful vessels.” For Monitor withdrew for a space to hoist
an interesting account of Mr. Ericsson's life and labors, more shot into her turret. This being see Duyckinck's “ War for the Union," vol. ii., pp. done, the fight was renewed: but the 308-312.
+ In order to complete the history of the Merrimac's Merrimac was glad ere long to retire career, we may mention here, that, on the 11th of April, towards Sewall's Point. It needed no
she appeared again in Hampton Roads, and captured
a few small vessels; and on the 11th of May, she was words to express the fact that she was
blown up by her officers in the Elizabeth River, to pre badly beaten, and compelled to stop in
vent her falling into the hands of the Union forces.
The Monitor, to the deep regret of all loyal men, was her career. The Monitor did not pur
. Wou put | lost in a violent gale off the coast of North Carolina, sue the fleeing vessel; she was under | Dec. 31st, 1862.
137 treville, leaving Ashby's cavalry, who! This victory was highly commended were on the lookout, to suppose that by the authorities as “auspicious and Winchester was being evacuated. On decisive," and it served to elevate the the 22d of March, a skirmish took place spirits of the people in view of the near Winchester, during which Shields campaign now just being entered upon. was badly wounded in the left arm. Gen. Shields's force was between 7,000 During the night, a strong force was and 8,000; his loss was 103 killed, 440 placed in advance, on the Strasburg wounded, twenty-four missing. The road, in a masked, admirably protected rebels numbered about 10,000; their position, near Kernstown. The next loss in killed and wounded was over day, Jackson's troops made an attack | 1,000. upon our men, endeavoring to turn In carrying forward the plan of the Shields's left flank; but they were re-campaign indicated on p. 129, troops pulsed after a severe struggle. An at were embarked, during the latter part tack was then made on our right, with of March, from Alexandria for Fortress desperate energy and determination; | Monroe. The transports supplied were it was, however, met with equal spirit found to be insufficient, and
1862. and bravery; Tyler's brigade dashed there was much delay in getting forward to carry the enemy's batteries, the troops to their destination. Heint. and hurl his left flank back upon the zelinan's corps led the way, and landed centre. Jackson, with his supposed on the Peninsula, March 23d. Other invincible stone-wall brigade and the detachments followed, as rapidly as accompanying brigades, were compelled means of transportation allowed. Gen. to fall back upon their reserve. They McClellan, expecting to have the supmade an attempt to retrieve the fortune port of the four army corps, directed of the day; but were not able to stand that the first corps (McDowell's), be the fire of our men. They speedily filed embarked last, intending to use it in in disorder, leaving Shields in possession mass on either bank of the York River, of the field, the killed and wounded, according as seemed best. He left 300 prisoners, two guns, four caisons,
Washington, April 1st, and arrived at and 1,000 stand of small arms.
Fortress Monroe the next day. BlenToo fatigued to pursue the enemy
ker's division of 10,000 men had been that night, Shields prepared for the
withdrawn, despite his protest, March next day's work, whether a renewal of 31st, to reinforce Fremont;* at the the fight with Jackson reinforced, or a same time, McClellan was allowed to driving him into flight. On the 24th detain him a while at Strasburg, uutil of March, the rebels retreated, and dur. Jackson was disposed of. As an offset ing the following week, were pursued * Under date, March 31st, the president wrote to to Woodstock, and thence to Edenburg,
| McClellan, “I felt constrained to order Blenker's divi
sion to Fremont;" and some days later, April 9th, he about twenty miles beyond Strasburg. wrote, "you know the pressure under which I withdrew Skirmishing was kept up by Ashby's cav
Blenker's division." What the constraint or pressure
was, in how far it was political, personal, or otherwise, is alry, which protected Jackson's retreat. When protected JACKSOns retreat. | not explained. The reader must judge for himself.
to this, some 10,000 men, under Wool! It was at this point, while thus enat Fortress Monroe, were placed at Mc- gaged, McClellan received an order, Clellan's disposal, at first; but on April dated April 4th, from the president, de. 3d, he was forbidden to use them with taching McDowell's corps from his out Wool's sanction. “This order," command. Although done under the McClellan remarks, in his report, “left impression that it was essential to the
out any base of operations under safety of Washington against rebel asmy control, and to this day I am ignor. saults, it proved a severe disappointant of the causes which led to it.” ment to McClellan ; it rendered him
Very little information was obtained powerless, as he says, to turn Yorktown at Fortress Monroe as to the position of by West Point, and left him no choice affairs on the Peninsula, and the topo- but to attack the place directly in front graphy of the region had to be learned with such force as he had under his by experience, rather than by previous command.* In his report, McClellan surveys or maps. The navy also, it was affirms positively that Mr. Lincoln, found, was too busy in looking after the when withdrawing Blenker's division, Merrimac and rebel gunboats, to be able had assured him that no other interferto give any of that support on which Mc-ence of any kind would be made with Clellan had counted, in operating against the proposed operations on the PeninYorktown and Gloucester. His plan sula; and he goes on to say that he was, as he says, by rapid movements to was shocked at this order, that it drive before him or capture the enemy marred all his expectations, that, in on the Peninsula, open the James River, short, it was a fatal error.” Careful and press on to Richmond, before the reconnaissances were made for several rebels should be materially reinforced days, and developed the serious difficul. from other quarters. But McClellan's ties in the way of our advance, as it had plans were not carried out as he intend to be forced through dense forests, deep ed, because, as he asserts, the means swamps, flooded roads, and the necessary were taken away from him. On examination by McClellan himself, it The army was put in immediate move was concluded not to risk an immediate ment against the enemy's works, at assault upon the extensive fortifications various points between Fortress Mon which protected so fully Yorktown and roe and Yorktown. Heavy rains had Gloucester. From the first arrival of made the roads bad, and altbough our troops before Yorktown, there was the rehels abandoned some points, yet, when Gen. Keyes reached Lee's Mills,
* There is a curious question as to a matter of fact,
which one would suppose not difficult to settle. It is he found the post too strong to be car. instructive as well as curious, and may give the reader ried, as he had been directed, by assault.
an idea how hard it is to attain positive accuracy where
numbers are concerned. The president and secretary Heintzelman arrived in front of York.
of war said that McClellan, according to his own retown on the afternoon of April 5th; | turns had, April 7th, 108,000 men for the peninsular
campaign. McClellan declared that at that date, 85,000 both columns having been exposed to a
was the extent of his force all counted. Rather a large warm artillery fire during the advance. | difference that of 23,000!