I served afterward in the Palmetto State, a vessel of similar construction to the Merrimac, but much more buoyant; yet I have seen the time when we were glad to get under a lee, even in Charleston Harbor.
The Merrimac, with but a few days' stores on board, drew twenty-two and one-half feet of water.
She could not have gone to Baltimore or Washington without lightening her very much.
This would have brought her unarmored hull out of the water, and then she would no longer have been an ironclad!
I was not so much surprised at the extravagant expectations of the Southern people, who necessarily knew but little of such matters; but I must say I could not have imagined the extent of the demoralization which existed at Fortress Monroe and in the Federal fleet on the 8th and 9th of March.
I have been told by an officer of high rank, who was present in the fort, that if the Merrimac had fired a shot at it on the 8th, the general in command would have surrendered it; and, if I am not very much mistaken, I have seen a despatch from that general to the effect that if the Merrimac passed Fortress Monroe it must necessarily fall!
After this, one can well understand what Napoleon has said in reference to the moral as compared to the physical effect in war.
But John Taylor Wood
, C. S. N., a lieutenant on the Merrimac
, speaks in “Battles and leaders of the Civil war” of the vessel's condition as she lay at anchor off Sewell's Point
The armor was hardly damaged, though at one time our ship was the focus on which were directed at least one hundred heavy guns, afloat and ashore.
But nothing outside escaped.
Two guns were disabled by having their muzzles shot off. The ram was left in the side of the Cumberland. One anchor, the smoke-stack, and the steampipes were shot away.
Railings, stanchions, boat-davits, everything was swept clean.
The flagstaff was repeatedly knocked over, and finally a boarding-pike was used.
Commodore Buchanan and the other wounded were sent to the Naval Hospital, and after making preparations for the next day's fight, we slept at our guns, dreaming of other victories in the morning.
Shortly after breakfast-time on the 9th, the Merrimac
, followed by the Confederate
squadron, got under way under a