No battle that was ever fought caused as great a sensation through the civilized world. The moral effect at the North was most marvelous; and even now I can scarcely realize it. The people of New York and Washington were in hourly expectation of the Merrimac's appearance off those cities, and I suppose were ready to yield at the first summons. At the South, it was expected that she would take Fortress Monroe when she again went out. I recollect trying to explain to a gentleman at the time how absurd it was to expect this of her. I told him that she might bombard Fortress Monroe all day without doing it any considerable damage; that she would get out of ammunition; that she carried but three hundred and fifty men, and could not land a force, even if her boats were not shot away, though they would be; that, in fine, I would be willing to take up my quarters in the casemates there and let the Merrimac hammer away for a month — but all to no purpose; the impression had been made on him: a gun mounted on an ironclad must be capable of doing more damage than one on a wooden vessel. An idea once fixed cannot be eradicated; just as we hear people say every day that Jackson at New Orleans defeated the veterans of Waterloo! As to the Merrimac going to New York, she would have foundered as soon as she got outside of Cape Henry. She could not have lived in Hampton Roads in a moderate sea. She was just buoyant enough to float when she had a few days' coal and water on board. A little more would have sent her to the bottom. When she rammed the Cumberland she dipped forward until the water nearly entered her bowport; had it done so she would have gone down. Perhaps it was fortunate for her that her prow did break off, otherwise she might not have extricated
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