Early yesterday afternoon, the rebel iron-plated steamer Merrimac came out of Norfolk harbor, moved slowly down the channel leading to Newport News, and steamed direct for the United States sailing frigates Cumberland and Congress, which were lying at the mouth of the James River. The Cumberland opened fire on her, but the balls had no effect. In the meantime the rebel steamers Yorktown and Jamestown, came down the James River and joined in the engagement. The Merrimac ran against the Cumberland, striking her about midships and laying open her sides. This movement was repeated, and then the steamer started for the Congress. The latter surrendered, and in the evening it was fired. The Minnesota attempted to engage in the conflict, but run aground not far from Newport News.  The St. Lawrence fired a number of shots, but was unable to get near the rebel steamers. The gunboat Oregon was disabled by a shot in her boiler, and the gunboat Zouave was also damaged to some extent. The new Ericsson iron-clad battery, the Monitor, arrived in the roads at ten o'clock in the evening, and at once went to the protection of the Minnesota. This morning the contest was renewed, and from eight o'clock to twelve o'clock, the two iron-clad steamers fought, part of the time touching each other. At last the Merrimac retired, having sustained serious injuries. The Monitor was uninjured.--(Doc. 82.)
A brigade of United States troops from Cairo, Ill., occupied Point Pleasant, Mo., about ten miles below New Madrid, thus cutting off the communication of the rebels with the main confederate army further down the Mississippi River. At Point Pleasant the National troops took possession of a rebel transport loaded with flour, and scuttled her.--Cincinnati Gazette.
The citizens of Shelbyville, Bedford County, Tenn., burned a large quantity of confederate stores, to prevent their falling into the hands of the rebel troops under A. Sydney Johnston, who were in full retreat from Murfreesboroa.
Cockpit Point, Va., was occupied by the National troops. About two P. M., the rebels commenced to retreat, and fired their tents and other property difficult of removal. They also burned their steamer George Page, and all the other craft which they had in the creek. The National gunboats opened fire on the battery about three o'clock P. M., and at half-past 4 a force was landed, and ran up the Union flag over the rebel works.--(Doc. 83.)
Great excitement existed throughout the seaboard cities and towns of the Northern States, concerning the possibility of the rebel gunboat Merrimac's escaping from Hampton Roads and visiting them.
This morning at daybreak, the camp of Gen. McCook, situated on the Franklin Turnpike, three miles south of Nashville, Tenn., was attacked by a party of rebels, and a corporal of the First Wisconsin regiment killed.--Louisville Journal, March 12.
A skirmish took place to-day at Burk's Station, near Fairfax Court-House, Va., between a detachment of the Lincoln cavalry, consisting of fourteen men, under command of Lieut. Hidden, and about one hundred and fifty rebel infantry. The cavalry charged upon the rebels and drove back the majority of them, with the loss, however, of Lieut. Hidden. The remainder fought desperately on both sides, three rebels being killed, five wounded and eleven taken prisoners. The members of the Lincoln cavalry were commanded by Corporal Eugene Lewis, after Lieut. Hidden fell.--(Doc. 84.)
Two powder-mills, on the opposite side of the river, at New Orleans, were blown up, and five workmen were killed. The loss of property was principally in machinery. There was only about three thousand pounds of powder on hand.--New Orleans Crescent, March 10.