she had against the Cumberland
for two reasons: there would be no sense in ramming a beached vessel, and even if she had been lying in the deep channel, no such tactics could be employed, owing to the condition of the Merrimac's
twisted and leaking bow. The Congress
had been assisted to the place where she ran ashore, between the Middle Ground
and Newport News Point, by the tug-gunboat Zouave
, under Acting Master Henry Reaney
, who had passed a line to her, and thus she was dragged to the protection of the Federal
The decks of the Congress
were soon littered with the wounded and running with blood; she was afire in the main hold, in the sick-bay, and under the wardroom near the after magazine.
No vessel could come to her assistance; the shore batteries under the circumstances offered her little or no protection, and about four o'clock in the afternoon the colors were hauled down.
, son of the Confederate Secretary of the Navy
, turning to Lieutenant Parker
, on the Beaufort
, pointed to the descending flag, at the same time exclaiming, “I'll swear we fired the last gun.”
It was true.
The little gunboat that had rendered such good account of herself under the same officers in the early actions in North Carolina
waters, had fired the first and the last shot of the day.
A strange condition of affairs now followed, and they gave rise to subsequent bitter controversy.
Suffice it that when the Beaufort
and one or two of the other Confederate gunboats, under orders from the flagship to take off the officers and wounded as prisoners and let the crew escape ashore, came alongside the stranded vessel, they were fired upon with both musketry and artillery at close range from the shore.
was driven off, and the Merrimac
again opened on the Congress
, although a white flag had been hoisted to show that she was out of action.
Many of the Federal
wounded were hit a second time; some were killed; the casualties among the Confederate gunboats, and even on the Merrimac
, were considerably increased.