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[201] attendant spirits, she captures three sailing-vessels under the eye of our own fleet, among which was the Monitor herself. After this, the Merrimac slowly moves to and fro across the mouth of Elizabeth River, seemingly inviting a champion to come out and try conclusions with her; but her defiance is not accepted, and she retires with her prizes, unmolested. To make the sting of our mortification a little sharper, all this was done under the bows of two foreign frigates,--one French and one English.

Thus, the destruction of two frigates and the capture of three small vessels make up the list of the Merrimac's material triumphs and trophies; but these were by no means all the services she rendered the Confederates, nor all the harm she did to us. In the first place, she controlled the James River so long as she lived. This rendered it impossible for us to make use of that river as the base of our operations; and this was the best base for a movement upon Richmond, and that one which, unquestionably, we should have adopted but for her presence. And, in the second place, the necessity of watching the Merrimac rendered it impossible to detach from the squadron at Hampton Roads a suitable force to attack the enemy's water-batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester; and this delayed the army before the lines of Yorktown, and gave the Confederates--what they so much wanted — time. Thus the whole current of the Peninsular campaign was turned aside, and the course of the war itself materially influenced, by this single vessel. Never

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