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[198] gallant little fleet. A rifled hundred-pound Parrott gun on board one of the gunboats, the Naugatuck, burst during the fight, and disabled the vessel. The great height of the bluff put it out of the range of many of our guns; and after a fight of between three and four hours, in which officers and men fully sustained the high character of the American navy, Commodore Rodgers gave the signal to discontinue the action.

One word more, in conclusion, upon the Merrimac, or Virginia, and the lessons her career teaches. Her first appearance upon the stage of the world was on the 8th day of March, and the drama closed with the flames of her funeral pyre on the morning of the 11th of May; and certainly never was there any mortal craft that within the short space of two months played a more important part or led a more eventful life. She was originally a United States steam screw frigate of fifty guns, and, being at Gosport when the rebellion broke out, was, like many of her consorts, partly burned and sunk when it became certain that Norfolk must fall into the hands of the seceding State of Virginia. After a while the Confederates fished her up, and it was found that the bottom of the hull, the boilers, and the essential parts of the engine were little injured. It was proposed to make this wreck the nucleus of a casemated vessel with inclined iron-plated sides and submerged ends. This ingenious suggestion was carried out with skill and energy. The peculiar feature of the Merrimac was that her ends and the caves of her casemate were submerged.

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