previous next
[467] and Blue, and between parts first and second of the performance the band played a selection from Robert le Diable.

The Chairman said there had been a request from the audience to see the marine who fired the fatal shot; he was not present. His name was Gates. It was proposed to give three cheers for Lieut. Morris.

The cheers were given with a will, the crews joining in them.

Wm. M. Evarts, Esq., was then introduced. With eloquent panegyric upon the bravery of our sailors, he prefaced a few words upon the war. We were now, he said, paying for the remissness of a whole generation, in sacrifice which would bring sorrow to thousands of hearths, and burden our posterity with debt. Having nothing but praises for our ancestors, let us see to it that our posterity should have something besides reproaches for us. “Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish,” were brave words, but these men had translated them into braver deeds. He believed that the whole nation was wrought up to this resolve and to this action--“Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, we give our hands and our hearts to this war.” Nothing could surpass the bravery of these men. That day was the commencement of a new era in naval warfare, and so long as that should be a science the day would be remembered as that which saw the bravery of the men of the Cumberland and Congress. Nothing could be more dramatic than the events of these two days. In the results we had this paradox, that a tower which was shaken upon its pivot with every wave, was able to resist ordnance which no rock-built fort could stand. Mr. Evarts read an extract from a Southern paper which paid high tribute to the heroism of the Cumberland's crew. [ “Three cheers for 'em.” ] After this, who was there who could not give new meaning to the cry, “Don't give up the ship” ? It meant something. It meant, “Don't give up the ship, although you go the bottom in her.” It meant: “Don't give up the good ship, the Constitution; better be buried beneath the liberties of the country, than survive them.” [Loud applause.]

Mr. S. C. Campbell then sang “The white squall.”

The Chairman then introduced Mr. Willard, a sailor from the Congress.

Mr. Willard said: Gentlemen and ladies, I am not acquainted with this kind of speaking. I am not used to it; I have been too long in a man-of-war. I enlisted in a man-of-war when I was thirteen years of age; I am now forty. I have been in one ever since. We had been a long time in the Congress, waiting for the Merrimac, with the Cumberland. I claim a timber-head in both ships. I belonged to the Cumberland in the destroying of the navy-yard and the ships at Norfolk. On the eighth of March, when the Merrimac came out, we were as tickled as a boy would be with his father coming home with a new kite for him. [Loud laughter and applause.] She fired a gun at us. It went clean through the ship, and killed nobody. The next one was a shell. It came in at a port-hole, killed six men, and exploded and killed nine more. The next one killed ten. Then she went down to the Cumberland. She had an old grudge against her, and she took her hog-fashion, as I should say. [Great laughter.] The Cumberland fought her as long as she could. She fired her spar-deck guns at her after the gun-deck was under water, but the shot had no more effect than peas. She sunk the Cumberland in about seven fathoms of water You know what a fathom is--six feet. We, lay in nine fathoms, and it would not do to sink in that. We slipped our cable and ran into shallower water, to get our broadside on the Merrimac, but we got her bows on; that gave them a chance to rake us, as they did. The commander opened a little port-hole, and said: “Smith, will you surrender the ship?” Says he: “No, not as long as I have got a gun or a man to man it.” They fired a broadside. The men moved the dead bodies away, and manned the guns again. They fired another broadside, and dismounted both the guns and killed the crews. When they first went by us, they sot us a-fire by a shell exploding near the magazine. I know where the magazine is; you folks don't. Last broadside she killed our commander, Mr. Smith, our sailing-master, and the pilot. We had no chance at all. We were on the spar-deck, most of us; the other steamers firing at us, and we dodging the shot; no chance to dodge down below, because you could not see the shot till they were inside of the ship. We had no chance, and we surrendered. The rebel officers-we knowed 'em all — all old playmates, shipmates — came home in the Germantown with them — all old playmates, but rascals now. She left us, and she went toward Norfolk to get out of the way. She returned in the morning to have what I'd call a fandango with the Minnesota, and the first thing she knowed, the little bumble-bee, the Monitor, was there, and she went back. I have no more to say, people, but there is the flag that the fathers of our country left us, and by the powers of God above us, we'll-----[Tremendous cheering.]

One of the crew of the Congress, Walter M. Pierce, sang the “Boatswain's call,” and he was loudly applauded.

The Hon. George Bancroft was next introduced. He said we must remember the wonderful condition in which these brave men were placed — not face to face with an equal enemy, but met by a new and untried power, that proved itself vastly superior to anything with which they were acquainted. And not only were they unable to resist the iron, but the Cumberland was so badly wounded that they could see how many sands might yet flow out before she was destined to go down. It was under these circumstances that our friends who were with us manifested that extraordinary self-possession that led them even to the last to continue the combat. These men were entitled to congratulation and to the gratitude of every one who had regard for the cause of Liberty. Yes, they were the champions of humanity, the champions of the great cause

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Norfolk (Virginia, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Willard (2)
Morgan L. Smith (2)
William M. Evarts (2)
Walter M. Pierce (1)
George M. Morris (1)
E. Gates (1)
S. C. Campbell (1)
George Bancroft (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
March 8th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: