over four thousand kegs of powder.
, with all these formidable ships of war, cannon, and munitions, had several hundred good and true men under his command.
He had received, some days before, express orders to send the Merrimac
forthwith to Philadelphia
, and had had her fitted out for the voyage, under the direction of Chief Engineer Isherwood
, who was sent thither from Washington
on purpose; but, when she was reported all ready but her guns, he declined to order them on board — or, rather, gave the order, but very soon countermanded it — excusing his vacillation or perplexity by his dread of exasperating the Rebels
, and referring to the reported obstructions sunk in the channel, which the Merrimac
, properly handled, would have crushed like an eggshell, and thus passed over without a check to her progress.
Finally, on the evening of the 20th, he gave orders to scuttle all the ships but the Cumberland
, preparatory to flight — as if this were not the very course to preserve them for the future use of the Rebels
The steam frigate Pawnee
, Capt. Hiram Paulding
, left Washington
on the evening of the 19th, and arrived, at 4 P. M. of the 20th, abreast of Fortress Monroe
Here she took on board Col. Wardrop
's regiment of Massachusetts volunteers, 450 strong, raising her fighting force to some six hundred men. She now steamed cautiously and slowly up the river to the Navy Yard
, which she reached soon after 8 o'clock. Capt. Paulding
had instructions from the Secretary of the Navy
, directing him to take command at Norfolk
, on his arrival there, and to act as circumstances should dictate; but, at all events, to save the public property from falling into the hands of traitors.
He found the guns in the Navy Yard
rendered useless by Capt. McCauley
's orders, and nearly all the ships of war disabled — several of them already sinking.
Among the scuttled was the Merrimac
— alone worth all the rest — barely the Cumberland
having been reserved to bear away the expectant fugitives.
Still, Capt. Paulding
might have held his position a week against all the traitors yet developed in Virginia
; and that week would have brought at least 30,000 men to his aid. But, without awaiting the firing of a shot, or even the appearance of a foe, he proceeded at once to transfer, with the utmost haste, books, papers, money, and some other of the most portable portions of the public property, to the Pawnee
and the Cumberland
; not even saving the small arms, of which his Government stood in urgent need.
The cannon he abandoned were (or had been) partially spiked; but so inefficiently, with nails, etc., that they were promptly and easily restored by the Rebels
to a serviceable condition.
The muskets, revolvers, etc., were broken, and, with great quantities of shot and shell, thrown into the water.
Several hours were spent in this work — the marine barracks, in the center of the Yard
, being set on fire, about midnight, to give light for its continuance.
Lieut. H. A. Wise1
had accompanied Capt. Paulding
, and was detailed by him, on or before their arrival, to board the Merrimac
and bring her out, if possible; and he was accordingly on her