two feet of water and was hard to manage, whereas the Monitor
drew less than twelve, and required no maneuvering at all. That was done for her by her turret.
One attempt was made on the part of the larger vessel to ram, but the result was fruitless.
In her turn, the Monitor
tried to run in close to the stern of her antagonist, in the hope of disabling her rudder.
But this, also, was unsuccessful.
For over two hours the Monitor
and her huge antagonist pounded away at each other at close range.
The men in the casemate of the Merrimac
, although at times knocked over by the concussion of the heavy shells hurled against her sides, soon saw that their shield was invulnerable.
But apparently their own shots created no impression upon the revolving iron tower that was their target.
fired very slowly, for her speaking-tubes had been shot away, and the orders had to be passed by word of mouth from the conning tower.
After forty minutes the Merrimac
, changing her tactics, endeavored to get in position to run the smaller vessel aground, but she was so unwieldy that the Monitor
could easily avoid her, although once she was struck a glancing blow.
Toward the latter part of the action, Lieutenant Worden
placed the bow of his little craft against the Merrimac's
quarters and fired both guns at point-blank distance.
Had they been loaded with the charges that it was afterward found these guns could stand, both of these shots would have penetrated, and there would never have been any subsequent contention as to the result.
The impact of these shots forced the sloping side in two or three inches. The crew of the after pivot-gun fell bleeding from nose and ears.
It was at this moment that the Merrimac's
officers actually thought of boarding — in fact, the boarders were called away, but before they could swarm through the ports, the Monitor
had backed away and dropped astern.
With the honors even and a growing respect for each other, the two vessels kept in the fight for over six hours. Then the Monitor
hauled off into the shallow water of the Middle