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[274] her stem knocking port No. One and the bridleport into one, whilst her ram cut the Cumberland under water. Almost at the moment of collision, the Merrimac discharged from her forward gun an eleven-inch shell. This shell raked the whole gun-deck, killing ten men at gun No. One, among whom was master mate John Harrington, and cutting off both arms and legs of quarter-gunner Wood. The water rushed in from the hole made below, and in five minutes the ship began to sink by the head. Shell and solid shot from the Cumberland were rained on the Merrimac as she passed ahead, but the most glanced harmlessly from the incline of her iron-plated bomb-roof.

As the Merrimac rounded to and came up she again raked the Cumberland with heavy fire. At this fire sixteen men at gun No. Ten were killed or wounded, and were all subsequently carried down in the sinking ship.

Advancing with increased momentum, the Merrimac struck the Cumberland on the starboard side, smashing her upper works and cutting another hole below the water-line.

The ship now began to rapidly settle, and the scene became most horrible. The cockpit was filled with the wounded, whom it was impossible to bring up. The former magazine was under water, but powder was still supplied from the after-magazine, and the firing kept steadily up by men who knew that the ship was sinking under them. They worked desperately and unremittingly, and amid the din and horror of the conflict gave cheers for their flag and the Union, which were joined in by the wounded. The decks were slippery with blood, and arms and legs and chunks of flesh were strewed about. The Merrimac laid off at easy point-blank range, discharging her broadsides alternately at the Cumberland and the Congress. The water by this time had reached the after-magazine of the Cumberland. The men, however, kept at work, and several cases of powder were passed up and the guns kept in play. Several men in the after shell-room lingered there too long in their eagerness to pass up shell, and were drowned.

The water had at this time reached the berth or main gun-deck, and it was felt hopeless and useless to continue the fight longer. The word was given for each man to save himself, but after this order gun No. Seven was fired, when the adjoining gun, No. Six, was actually under water. This last shot was fired by an active little follow named Matthew Tenney, whose courage had been conspicuous throughout the action. As his port was left open by the recoil of the gun, he jumped to scramble out, but the water rushed in with so much force that he was washed back and drowned. When the order was given to cease firing, and to look out for their safety in the best way possible, numbers scampered through the port-holes, whilst others reached the spar-deck by the companion-ways. Some were incapable to get out by either of these means, and were carried by the rapidly sinking ship. Of those who reached the upper deck, some swam off to the tugs that came out from Newport News.

The Cumberland sank in water nearly to her cross-trees. She went down with her flag still flying, and it still flies from the mast above the water that overwhelmed her, a memento of the bravest, most daring, and yet most hopeless defence that has ever been made by any vessel belonging to any navy in the world. The men fought with a courage that could not be excelled. There was no flinching, no thought of surrender.

The whole number lost of the Cumberland's crew was one hundred and twenty.

The Cumberland being thoroughly demolished, the Merrimac left her — not, to the credit of the rebels it ought to be stated, firing either at the men clinging to the rigging, or at the small boats on the propeller Whildin, which were busily employed rescuing the survivors of her crew — and proceeded to attack the Congress. The officers of the Congress, seeing the fate of the Cumberland, and aware that she also would be sunk if she remained within reach of the iron beak of the Merrimac, had got all sail on the ship, with the intention of running her ashore. The tug-boat Zouave also came out and made fast to the Cumberland, and assisted in towing her ashore.

The Merrimac then surged up, gave the Congress a broadside, receiving one in return, and getting astern, raked the ship fore and aft. This fire was terribly destructive, a shell killing every man at one of the guns except one. Coming again broadside to the Congress, the Merrimac ranged slowly backward and forward, at less than one hundred yards distant, and fired broadside after broadside into the Congress. The latter vessel replied manfully and obstinately, every gun that could be brought to bear being discharged rapidly, but with little effect upon the iron monster. Some of the balls caused splinters of iron to fly from her mailed roof, and one shot, entering a port-hole, is supposed to have dismounted a gun, as there was no further firing from that port. The guns of the Merrimac appeared to be specially trained on the after-magazine of the Congress, and shot after shot entered that part of the ship.

Thus slowly drifting down with the current and again steaming up, the Merrimac continued for an hour to fire into her opponent. Several times the Congress was on fire, but the flames were kept down. Finally the ship was on fire in so many places, and the flames gathering such force, that it was hopeless and suicidal to keep up the defence any longer. The National flag was sorrowfully hauled down and a white flag hoisted at the peak.

After it was hoisted the Merrimac continued to fire, perhaps not discovering the white flag, but soon after ceased firing.

A small rebel tug that had followed the Merrimac out of Norfolk then came alongside the Congress, and a young officer gained the gun-deck through a port-hole, announced that he came on board to take command, and ordered the officers on board the tug.

The officers of the Congress refused to go on board, hoping from the nearness to the shore that they would be able to reach it, and unwilling to

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