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[146]
You will hoist your flag on the Virginia, or any other vessel of your squadron, which will, for the present, embrace the Virginia, Patrick Henry, Jamestown, Teaser, Raleigh, and Beaufort.

The Virginia is a novelty in naval construction, is untried, and her powers unknown, and the department will not give specific orders as to her attack upon the enemy. Her powers as a ram are regarded as very formidable, and it is hoped that you may be able to test them.

Like the bayonet charge of infantry, this mode of attack, while the most destructive, will commend itself to you in the present scarcity of ammunition. It is one, also, that may be rendered destructive at night against the enemy at anchor.

Even without guns, the ship would be formidable as a ram.

Could you pass Old Point and make a dashing cruise on the Potomac as far as Washington, its effect upon the public mind would be important to the cause.

The reason that the Merrimac did not pass Old Point Comfort, or proceed to New York, is told in another place, when she and the little Ericsson Monitor met. However, as far as her anticipated work was done, it was successful. With the wooden vessels she had it all her own way. But as of the Monitor herself, after the engagement, too high hopes were formed, so, of her antagonist, before she had been tried out, too much was expected.

The monitors failed signally against well-protected shore batteries. As more and more of these turreted vessels were ordered to be constructed during the war, they were divided into classes that differed but slightly from the original type. There were two-turreted, and, even at the last, three-turreted monitors; although the low free-board was maintained, the protecting overhang had disappeared, and this added greatly to their seaworthiness. The tragic loss on the 31st of December, 1862, of the original little vessel, which became a coffin for sixteen of her crew in a gale off Cape Hatteras, had taught ship-designers more than a little. A war-ship must first be seaworthy, and beside having defensive and offensive qualities,

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Merrimac (1)
J. Ericsson (1)
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December 31st, 1862 AD (1)
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