previous next

[166] pushed with all possible haste. Her armament was on board, and she was taken out of the dock while the workmen were still employed upon her—indeed, the last of them were put ashore after she was started on her first experimental trip. Few men, conscious as Flag Officer Buchanan was of the defects of his vessel, would have dared such unequal conflict. Slowly—about five knots an hour—he steamed down to the roads. The Cumberland and the Congress, seeing the Virginia approach, prepared for action, and from the flagship Roanoke signals were given to the Minnesota and St. Lawrence to advance. The Cumberland had swung so as to give her full broadside to the Virginia, which silently and without any exhibition of her crew, moved steadily forward. The shot from the Cumberland fell thick upon her plated roof, but rebounded harmless as hailstones. At last the prow of the Virginia struck the Cumberland just forward of her starboard forechains. A dull, heavy thud was heard, but so little force was given to the Virginia that the engineer hesitated about backing her. It was soon seen, however, that a gaping breach had been made in the Cumberland, and that the sea was rushing madly in. She reeled, and while the waves engulfed her, her crew gallantly stood to their guns and vainly continued their fire. She went down in nine fathoms of water, and with at least one hundred of her gallant crew, her pennant still flying from her masthead.

The Virginia then ran upstream a short distance, in order to turn and have sufficient space to get headway, and come down on the Congress. The enemy, supposing that she had retired at the sight of the vessels approaching to attack her, cheered loudly, both ashore and afloat. But when she turned to descend upon the Congress, as she had on the Cumberland, the Congress slipped her cables and ran ashore, bows on. The Virginia took position as near as the depth of water would permit, and opened upon her a raking fire. The Minnesota was fast aground about one mile and a half below. The Roanoke and the St. Lawrence retired toward the fort. The shore batteries kept up their fire on the Virginia, as did also the Minnesota at long range, and quite ineffectually. The Congress, being aground, could but feebly reply. Several of our small vessels came up and joined the Virginia, and the combined fire was fearfully destructive to the Congress. Her commander was killed, and soon her colors were struck, and the white flag appeared both at the main and spanker gaff. The Beaufort, Lieutenant-commanding W. H. Parker, and the Raleigh, Lieutenant-commanding J. W. Alexander, tugs which had accompanied the Virginia, were ordered to the Congress to receive the surrender. The flag of the ship and the sword of its commander were

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
W. H. Parker (1)
Franklin Buchanan (1)
J. W. Alexander (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: