an attack on the Minnesota till we had got her afloat again. This morning the Merrimac renewed the attack on the Minnesota, but she found, no doubt greatly to her surprise, a new opponent in the Monitor. The contest has been going on during most of the day between these two armored vessels, and most beautifully has the little Monitor sustained herself, showing herself capable of great endurance. I have not received any official accounts of the loss of the Congress and Cumberland, but no doubt shall do so, when it will be transmitted to you. I should do injustice to this military department did I not inform you that every assistance was freely tendered to us — sending five of their tugs to the relief of the Minnesota, and offering all the aid in their power. I would also beg leave to say that Capt. Poor, of the Ordnance Department, kindly volunteered to do duty temporarily on board this ship, and from whom I have received much assistance. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
John Marston, Captain and Senior Officer.
Report of Captain Van brunt.
United States steamer Minnesota, March 10, 1862.sir: On Saturday, the eighth instant, at forty-five minutes after twelve o'clock P. M., three small steamers, in appearance, were discovered rounding Sewall's Point, and as soon as they came into full broadside view, I was convinced that one was the iron-plated steam-battery Merrimac, from the large size of her smoke-pipe. They were heading for Newport News, and I, in obedience to a signal from the senior officer present, Capt. John Marston, immediately called all hands, slipped my cables, and got under way for that point, to engage her. While rapidly passing Sewall's Point, the rebels there opened fire upon us from a rifle-battery, one shot from which going through and crippling my mainmast. I returned the fire with my broadside-guns and forecastle-pivot. We ran without further difficulty within about one and a half miles of Newport News, and there, unfortunately, grounded. The tide was running ebb, and although in the channel there was not sufficient water for this ship, which draws twenty-three feet, I knew the bottom was soft and lumpy, and endeavored to force the ship over, but found it impossible so to do. At this time it was reported to me that the Merrimac had passed the frigate Congress and run into the sloop-of-war Cumberland, and in fifteen minutes after, I saw the latter going down by the head. The Merrimac then hauled off, taking a position, and about half-past 2 o'clock P. M., engaged the Congress, throwing shot and shell into her with terrific effect, while the shot from the Congress glanced from her iron-plated sloping sides, without doing any apparent injury. At half-past 3 o'clock P. M., the Congress was compelled to haul down her colors. Of the extent of her loss and injury, you will be informed from the official report of her commander. At four o'clock P. M., the Merrimac, Jamestown and Patrick Henry, bore down upon my vessel. Very fortunately, the iron battery drew too much water to come within a mile of us. She took a position on my starboard bow, but did not fire with accuracy, and only one shot passed through the ship's bow. The other two steamers took their position on my port bow and stern, and their fire did most damage in killing and wounding men, inasmuch as they fired with rifled guns; but with the heavy gun that I could bring to bear upon them, I drove them off, one of them apparently in a crippled state. I fired upon the Merrimac with my ten-inch pivot-gun, without any apparent effect, and at seven o'clock P. M., she too hauled off, and all three vessels steamed toward Norfolk. The tremendous firing of my broadside guns had crowded me further upon the mud-bank, into which the ship seemed to have made for herself a cradle. From ten P. M., when the tide commenced to run flood, until four A. M., I had all hands at work, with steamtugs and hawsers, endeavoring to haul the ship off the bank; but without avail, and as the tide had then fallen considerably, I suspended further proceedings at that time. At two A. M. the iron battery Monitor, Com. John L. Worden, which had arrived the previous evening at Hampton Roads, came alongside and reported for duty, and then all on board felt that we had a friend that would stand by us in our hour of trial. At six A. M. the enemy again appeared, coming down from Craney Island, and I beat to quarters ; but they ran past my ship, and were heading for Fortress Monroe, and the retreat was beaten, to allow my men to get something to eat. The Merrimac ran down near the Rip Raps, and then turned into the channel through which I had come. Again all hands were called to quarters, and opened upon her with my stern-guns, and made signal to the Monitor to attack the enemy. She immediately ran down in my wake, right within the range of the Merrimac, completely covering my ship, as far as was possible with her diminutive dimensions, and, much to my astonishment, laid herself right alongside of the Merrimac, and the contrast was that of a pigmy to a giant. Gun after gun was fired by the Monitor, which was returned with whole broadsides from the rebels, with no more effect, apparently, than so many pebble-stones thrown by a child. After a while they commenced manoeuvring, and we could see the little battery point her bow for the rebel's, with the intention, as I thought, of sending a shot through her bow-porthole; then she would shoot by her, and rake her through her stern. In the mean time the rebels were pouring broadside after broadside, but almost all her shot flew over the little submerged propeller; and when they struck the bomb-proof tower, the shot glanced off without producing any effect, clearly establishing the fact that wooden vessels cannot con tend