previous next

“ [270] gun to bear upon the enemy, and the ship being on fire in several places, upon consultation with Commander William Smith, we deemed it proper to haul down our colors, without any further loss of life on our part. We were soon boarded by an officer of the Merrimac, who said he would take charge of the ship. He left shortly afterward, and a small tug came alongside, whose captain demanded that we should surrender and get out of the ship, as he intended to burn her immediately. A sharp fire with muskets and artillery was maintained from our troops ashore upon the tug, having the effect of driving her off. The Merrimac again opened upon us, although we had a peak to show that we were out of action. After having fired several shells into us, she left us, and engaged the Minnesota and the shore-batteries,” after which, Lieut. Pendergrast states, the wounded were taken ashore in small boats, the ship having been on fire from the beginning of the action, from hot shot fired by the Merrimac, He reports the death of the following officers: Lieut. Joseph B. Smith, Acting Master Thomas Moore, and Pilot Wm. Rhodes.

Report of Captain Watson.

United States steamer Dragon, March 8, 1862.
At six P. M., went alongside of the Roanoke, and was ordered to get up a big head of steam, and go on the starboard side and make fast, as the Merrimac was in sight, and the signal given to get under weigh and go after her. At half-past 1 P. M., slipped the anchors of the Roanoke and started for the Merrimac. At two P. M., received orders to take a hawser and go ahead, as the ship had got ashore, and it was necessary to get her head in the right direction. At the same time the batteries at Sewall's Point opened on the tow, which was immediately responded to by the Roanoke and Dragon. On nearing Newport News, I was ordered to tow the Roanoke head toward the Rip Raps, and let go, and go to the Minnesota and render every assistance possible, which was done with a will. Arriving at the Minnesota, took position and opened fire on the Yorktown and Jamestown. Kept it up until dark, when we received orders to cease firing and lay by the ship until morning. At two A. M., tried to tow the Minnesota off the bottom, and succeeded only to ground in another and more exposed place. Made fast for the night. Second day, at eight A. M., we were ordered to take up position as best we could, and opened fire on the Yorktown and Jamestown, with good effect; could plainly see our shells bursting on the enemy. At twelve M., received orders to go alongside of the Minnesota, and be ready to assist in towing her off. Made fast on the port-side, being in direct line of the Merrimac's batteries. At the same moment received two shots from her, one taking effect in the boiler, blowing up the vessel, together with the captain and three men; seriously wounding Charles J. Freese; badly scalding Ben. S. Hungerford, and breaking the legs of----McDonald, which will have to be amputated Received orders to get on board the Minnesota. Vessel on fire. Shortly after received orders to get bags and hammocks on board of the Whitehall.

The following is a list of officers at the time:

Acting Master Commanding.--Wm. Watson.

First Engineer.--Wm. A. Seward.

Second Engineer.--Thomas Jordan.

Master's Mate.--Wm. Bowdin.

Quartermaster.--Ben. S. Hungerford.

Steward.--Jeferine Banditche.

Six firemen and ten seamen.

Wm. Watson, Captain.

G. V. Fox's despatch.

Fortress Monroe, March 9, 6.45 P. M.
Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy:
The Monitor arrived at ten P. M., yesterday, and went immediately to the protection of the Minnesota, lying aground just opposite Newport News. At seven A. M., to-day, the Merrimac, accompanied by two wooden steamers and several tugs, stood out toward the Minnesota and opened fire. The Monitor met them at once, and opened her fire, when all the enemy's vessels retired, excepting the Merrimac. These two iron-clad vessels fought, part of the time touching each other, from eight A. M. to noon, when the Merrimac retired. Whether she is injured or not it is impossible to say. Lieut. J. L. Worden, who commanded the Monitor, handled her with great skill, assisted by Chief-Engineer Stimers. Lieut. Worden was injured by the cement from the pilot-house being driven into his eyes, but I trust not seriously. The Minnesota kept up a continuous fire, and is herself somewhat injured. She was moved considerably to-day and will probably be off to-night. The Monitor is uninjured, and ready at any moment to repel any attack.

G. V. Fox, Assistant-Secretary of the Navy.

Engineer Stimers' letter.

iron-clad Monitor Hampton roads, March 9, 1862.
my dear sir: After a stormy passage, which proved us to be the finest sea-boat I was ever in, we fought the Merrimac for more than three hours this forenoon, and sent her back to Norfolk in a sinking condition. Iron-clad against iron-clad. We manoeuvred about the bay here, and went at each other with mutual fierceness. I consider that both ships were well fought; we were struck twenty-two times: pilot-house twice, turret nine times, side-armor eight times, deck three times. The only vulnerable point was the pilot-house. One of your great logs (nine by twelve inches thick) is broken in two. The shot struck just outside of where the captain had his eye, and it has disabled him by destroying his left eye and temporarily blinding the other. The log is not quite in two, but is broken and pressed inward one and a half inches. [The “log” alluded to is made of wrought-iron of the best material.] She tried to run us down and sink us as she did the Cumberland yesterday, but she got the worst of it. Her bow passed over our deck,

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)
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 9th, 1862 AD (1)
March 8th, 1862 AD (1)
March 9th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: