and her kind, as already said, counted for nought, excepting as their exploits should influence European
opinion and action.
The destruction they caused was a property destruction only, not a destruction of naval power, which was what really counted.
And the actual property destruction was finally found to amount to less than ten million dollars, or not more than the fiftieth part of that endured by San Francisco
in the catastrophe of 1906.
It was not until the ironclad came upon the scene that the Federal
cause was in jeopardy.
The frigate Merrimac
was sunk at Norfolk
when the navy-yard was so unfortunately yielded through the administration's unwillingness to use its strength, and the thousands of cannon there in store, along with those at Pensacola
, went to arm the Confederacy
With immense energy on the part of the Southern
officers, the Merrimac
was raised, her upper decks removed, and the ship reconstructed as an armored vessel.
Her advent in Hampton Roads
, March 8, 1862, where in the first moment were but some wooden ships, among them the large steam frigate Minnesota
and the sailing frigates Congress
, brought on a memorably heroic fight, in which the Congress
was burned and the Cumberland
sunk with her colors flying.
That night came almost providentially the Monitor
, with her heroic commander, Lieutenant Worden
, and her equally courageous first lieutenant, S. Dana Greene
The fight of the next day, its outcome, the withdrawal of the Merrimac
, her later destruction by the Confederates
, and the effect upon the world, we all know.
Besides saving to the Union
the possession of Hampton Roads
and Chesapeake Bay
, it saved a possible appearance of what, up to that moment, was an irresistible force off Northern ports, the appearance of which would have had a disastrous effect upon Federal interests in the development of European
action in favor of the South
Other ironclads had, in Europe
, preceded the Monitor
, some armored batteries having been used by the French
in 1855, during the Crimean war; and the French