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works. The first of these commenced at a point on the York River, and extended south until it met the head of Warwick River, which, running about four miles south, empties into the James. In the rear of this was another line of detached works, and still further in the rear a third line, extending in front of Williamsburg. In front of the first line of defence there were numerous detached works, from which the enemy were successively driven. The army gradually approached this line. Several skirmishes occurred, but nothing serious until the 16th of April, when it was ascertained that the enemy had thrown up a new battery on the Warwick, about one mile above Lee's Mills. This was the left of the Union lines held by General Keyes. General Brooks's brigade with Mott's battery moved forward to within twelve hundred yards of the new work. The ground on the Union side front of the work was open, but with woods on either flank. The batteries of Ayers, Wheeler, Mott, and Kennedy advanced to this open space in front of the enemy, and began a terrific fire at eight hundred yards distant. The Sixth Vermont, Colonel Lord, the Fourth, Colonel Stoughton, and the Third, Colonel Hyde, approached both flanks of the enemy through the woods to reconnoitre. They were received with a telling fire of musketry, which drove them back. Four companies of the Third Vermont then made a rush at the stream, and attempted to ford, the water being waist deep; but the fire of the enemy overpowered them. The Sixth Vermont left the woods on the right, in support of the Third, dashed across the stream, and actually entered the work; but, not being properly supported, they were subjected to a murderous fire from the rifle-pits, which drove them back with heavy loss. This action produced much sensation in consequence of the dauntless bravery displayed by the men, and the apparently useless nature of the sacrifice of life, and in the opinion of competent officers might, if properly conducted, have secured the Federal troops a lodgment on the right bank of the Warwick River. It has been mentioned how weak the rebel garrison was at the arrival of the Federal army. It may now be added that evidence of that fact was presented to the commander-in-chief, but had no effect upon his determination to conduct regular siege operations.
The idea of forcing the enemy's lines seems after this to have been abandoned, and the siege progressed very steadily with the immense resources at the command of General McClellan. The transports on the Chesapeake Bay brought supplies freely to either flank of his army on the York or James River, and to Ship's Point, which, after it was abandoned by the enemy, became an important dépôt. Lines of approach were commenced against the place on a large scale, and batteries established to command important points. The enemy showed activity in his attempts to impede and destroy these works, and frequent encounters along the line tested the courage and address of the men. The front of our lines was occupied by sharpshooters, who were very efficient in picking off the enemy's gunners, in some cases silencing the guns that most annoyed the trenchers. As suitable positions were reached, siege-guns were placed in battery. On the 25th of April, General Grover sent a portion of the First Massachu
setts to carry a lunette, which the Confederates had constructed on the east side of the Warwick, near its head. This work, having a strong parapet and ditch six feet deep, was manned by two companies of infantry, who deserted the place before the vigorous charge of the Massachusetts men. These operations were continued as the works progressed, aided by the occasional shelling of Yorktown and Gloucester by the gunboats. The enemy, in the mean time, continually strengthened his works, constructing batteries to answer those erected by the Union troops, and on both sides the most formidable preparations were made for the final struggle which was now approaching. By the close of April, there had been constructed fourteen powerful batteries and three redoubts within breaching distance of the enemy's works. These contained ninety-six heavy guns in position ready to thunder against the opposing walls. Of the number there were two 200-pounders, three 100-pounders, ten 13-inch mortars, forty-three 10-inch mortars, and twenty-five Parrott guns of different calibre. These were well supplied, and nearly ready for the attack on May 1st.
On the other hand, the enemy had so strengthened his position as to deem it impregnable against any assaults from without, and re-enforcements were within reach from Richmond, to supply his three lines of defence. He had so fortified Yorktown and Gloucester, opposite, with the heaviest description of guns, commanding the narrow passage up the York River, that it was deemed impossible for any vessels to pass. The naval officers decided the position too strong. If the York River could be forced, the position of Yorktown could not be held; on the other hand, as long as the passage between Yorktown and Gloucester could be commanded, the works of Yorktown were good against any assaults of the besiegers. The Confederates therefore continued the defence with a confidence that had been strengthened by the results of the naval combat of March 8th, when the iron-clad Merrimac made havoc with the wooden ships in Hampton Roads, an event which not only created a great sensation in the North, but startled all Europe.
Iron-plated Ships.-Merrimac.-Federal Fleet.-Hampton Roads.-Destruction of the Cumberland and Congress.-Monitor.-Iron-clad Duel.-Repulse of the Merrimac.
THE mode of constructing wood vessels by plating them with iron had long engaged the attention of the maritime nations of Europe, and great expense had been incurred in constructing such vessels in France and England. The Confederate States were the first to employ one in actual war. When Norfolk was abandoned in April, 1861, it will be remembered that among the steamers left behind was the Merrimac, which was scuttled and sunk. The Confederates, however, raised her, cut her down to the water's edge, and plated her
with interlapped railroad iron, placed sloping in such a manner that all shot must strike her at angles. She was provided with an iron beak for the purpose of crushing the sides of an enemy's vessel when run into. Her armament consisted of four eleven-inch guns on each side, and two one hundred-pounders at bow and stern. Nine months were spent in equipping her, and on the 8th of March, with a picked crew, under the command of Captain Buchanan,* formerly of the United States service, she left Norfolk, and made her appearance in Hampton Roads. The National fleet then in the Roads embraced the Congress, fifty guns; the Cumberland, twenty-two guns; the Minnesota, forty guns; the Roanoke, forty guns; the St. Lawrence, fifty guns; the gunboats Zouave, Dragon, and Whitehall, and some smaller vessels. These were all wooden vessels, very efficient of their class, and ably commanded. Of the larger vessels, only the Minnesota and Roanoke were propelled by steam. The Cumberland and the Congress lay off Newport News, covering the entrance of the Nansemond and James Rivers, and blockading in the latter the Confederate steamers the Jamestown and the Yorktown, or Patrick Henry, as she was called. These two vessels had been packetsteamers, running to New York, and were seized and converted into war-steamers at the outbreak of the war. The Minnesota, the St. Lawrence, and the Roanoke were at anchor near the Rip Raps, just without the range of the large rifled guns on Sewell's Point.
Rumors in relation to the Merrimac and her state of forwardness had long been rife, when on the 8th, at 1 P. M., she was descried from the deck of the Minnesota, rounding Sewell's Point. Signal was immediately made from the Roanoke, Captain Marston, for the vessels to engage. The Minnesota slipped her cables, and made sail for the stranger. In passing Sewell's Point, her mast was injured by a rifleshot, and the vessel grounded within one and a half miles of Newport News. The Merrimac, meantime, passed the Congress, and made directly for the Cumberland, which had promptly cleared for action, and which had opened fire upon her as she neared. The steamer did not reply till she struck the Cumberland under the starboard forechannels, staving in her side, and pouring in her shot at the same moment. The guns of the Cumberland played upon her with great vigor and rapidity, but with no apparent effect. In ten minutes the water had risen to the main hatchway, in spite of the pumps, drowning out the powder-magazines. The ship then canted to port, and all hands sprang to save the wounded. The rapidly sinking ship how
ington-a post of honor, and one which he had held for a length of time. Upon finding that Maryland did not secede from the Union, be asked to be restored to his commission, and, his request being refused, he entered the rebel naval service. He commanded the Merrimae in the action of March 8th, in which he was severely wounded; and, upon the evacuation of Norfolk, blew up the vessel. Subsequently, be was made admirs, ard commanded the rebel fleet in the action in Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864, where he was captured in his
Franklin Buchanan, the first commander of the Merrimac, was a native of Maryland, but was appointed to the United States Navy from Pennsylvania. He entered the service on the 28th of January, 1813, and steadily advanced through the various gradations of promotion, until, at the commencement of 1861. his name was No. 47 on the list of captains. While in the Union service, he received his captain's commission on the 14th September, 1555. His total seaservice had been about sixteen years and a half, and his total service under the United States Gov-flag-ship, the ram Tennessee, so severely wounded ernment over forty-six years. When he resigned, he was Commandant of the Navy-Yard at Wash
that his leg had to be amputated.
ever, cut short their efforts, carrying down a number of helpless heroes, and her guns delivered their last fire as the water closed over them, her flag still flying in defiance of her foe. The loss in men was about one hundred. All the papers having gone down with the frigate, it was difficult to ascertain the actual loss. The utmost gallantry was displayed by Lieutenant Morris and his officers, who earned imperishable renown. The whole affair lasted fifteen minutes. The Merrimac then attacked the Congress, Captain W. Smith, throwing shot and shell into her with terrific effect. The Congress returned the fire with the utmost energy and alacrity, but the missiles glanced from the iron plates like hailstones, while the heavy shot of the steamer completely riddled the Congress. On seeing the fate of the Cumberland, the Congress, with the assistance of the Zouave, was run ashore. The Patrick Henry and the Jamestown then came down the river and took part in the fight, firing into the Congress with great precision. The Congress could only bring to bear her two stern guns, which were soon disabled, amid frightful slaughter. There being no prospect of any relief, her colors were hauled down at half-past three o'clock. Lieutenant Parker was then sent on board by Captain Buchanan, to take possession, remove the wounded, and fire the ship.
While these events were taking place, the shore batteries at Newport News were not idle. General Mansfield, in command, had been notified of the approach of the Merrimac, and made preparations to receive her. When she ran into the Cumberland, she was within a mile of the shore batteries, and by General Mansfield's order, she was opened upon with four columbiads, one James forty-two-pounder, three eight-inch siege-howitzers, and two light rifled cannon. The shot from all these fell upon her as harmlessly as hailstones. She paid no attention to them, but kept up her work of destruction. When the Congress had struck her flag, the steamers Beaufort and Raleigh ran alongside to take off the wounded-the flag of truce flying on the Congress. General Mansfield, observing this, ordered Captain Howard, with two rifled guns, and Captain Brown, with two companies of the Twentieth Indiana, to open upon the steamer from the beach, six hundred yards distant. The steamers then drew out of range, and the Merrimac again opened fire upon the Congress with hot shot, until she burned to the water's edge. The conflagration lasted through the night, throwing its lurid glare upon the surrounding bay and strand. Her fifty-four shotted guns discharged in turn as the flames reached them, until the final explosion of the magazine. closed the grand spectacle. A shot from one of the guns sunk a steamer at the wharf. Lieutenant J. D. Smith, of the Congress, was killed, and a great many others. The gunboat Zouave, while tending the Congress, was riddled with shot, without, however, losing any men. The Merrimac, which had been placed under the command of First Lieutenant Catesby Ap R. Jones, in consequence of Captain Buchanan having been wounded, accompanied by the Jamestown and Patrick Henry, now bore down upon the Minnesota, which was aground in a locality which prevented the Merrimac from coming
within a mile of her. She took, however, a position on the starboard bow, and the other two steamers on the port bow. The latter were driven off with ease, but the broadsides of the Minnesota made no perceptible impression on the Merrimac. In the mean time the St. Lawrence, Captain Purviance, got under way to aid the Minnesota, but grounded; she, however, opened upon the Merrimac, and received a shot in return, doing much damage. It was now seven o'clock, and the Confederate steamer withdrew towards Elizabeth River, with the intention of renewing the conflict in the morning. This delay, per haps made necessary by the state of the tide, was fatal to her further service, since in the night arrived a new enemy which was to prove her match.
The Monitor was constructed by Captain Ericsson, and differed materially from any vessel before constructed. Her length was one hundred and seventy-four feet on deck, and her breadth forty-one feet. Her hull floated eighteen inches above the water, and was covered with six inches of wrought-iron plates. Her deck was plated with two inches of wrought iron. A wrought-iron turret, twenty-one and a half feet outside diameter, nine feet high, and nine inches thick, was placed near the centre of buoyancy. In this turret were mounted two eleven-inch Dahlgren guns. The turret revolved, and was turned around with great facility by steam, its movements being controlled by the commanding officer inside. As she went into action, there was nothing above her deck but the turret and a shot-proof pilot-house, and when she was anchored outside a fort or battery, the pilot-house was lowered below the deck. In that position, if she was boarded by the enemy, they could not get below nor into the turret, and her decks could be swept by her own guns loaded with canister.
This vessel made her trial trip in New York Bay, March 3, with success; her speed was six and a quarter knots, the engines making sixty-five revolutions. She sailed for Fortress Monroe under command of Lieutenant John L. Worden, a ndreported for duty at two A. M. March 9, amidst the most anxious preparations for the expected renewed attack of the Merrimac in the morning. Her appearance on the scene was greeted by the awful explosion of the magazines of the Congress, whose flames had lighted the entrance of the Monitor into Chesapeake Bay. Her singular and diminutive appearance, which was described by the enemy as that of a "cheese-box upon a plank," was not of a character to create much confidence in the minds of those who had witnessed the terrible efficiency of her gigantic rival on the previous day, but she was at least a friend in the hour of need.
At six o'clock on the morning of the 9th, the Merrimac was again seen coming round Craney Island, accompanied by the Yorktown and Jamestown, and immediately she ran down for the Minnesota, still aground, but prepared to receive the enemy. An eleven-inch shot entered the Minnesota under her counter, doing great damage. Captain Van Brunt signalled the Monitor to attack the enemy, and that vessel immediately closed in upon the Merrimac, delivering her fire at close quarters with great rapidity, and receiving in exchange whole broad