great importance, Fort Monroe
is still more so to the Union
at once proceeded on the steamer Pawnee
to Fort Monroe
. One of the two regiments which had arrived at Fort Monroe
that morning, about 370 strong, under Colonel Wardrop
, was marched on board the Pawnee
, which arrived at Norfolk
on the night of the 20th.
When Captain Wright
reached the navy yard he found that all the ships there, except the Cumberland
, had been scuttled on the 19th by Commodore McCauley
, the commandant of the navy yard, and were fast sinking; but finding McCauley
disposed to defend the yard, the troops were landed and dispositions taken for its defense, when Commodore Paulding
, who had come on the Pawnee
, decided to finish the destruction of the scuttled ships, and, after destroying the navy yard, to withdraw with the frigate Cumberland
in tow of the Pawnee
and a steam tug lying at the yard.
To Captain Wright
and Commodore Rodgers
was assigned the duty of blowing up the dry dock, a massive structure of granite masonry, which they prepared to do by placing a mine in a gallery along one of its side walls, in which they used 2,000 pounds of powder, brought from one of the ships, connected by a train of powder and slow matches with the outside.
This done, all the men were sent to the ship, except one to watch for the commodore's signal for lighting the matches to fire the mine and the buildings, which was done by Captains Wright
The lighted fires burned so rapidly that those officers had great difficulty in escaping from the yard, and were unable to reach the Pawnee
, which had already moved away, as the Virginia
troops just then advanced rapidly from the Portsmouth
side and opened fire on the yard, the steamer, and the boat in which Wright
tried to escape.
They then rowed to the Norfolk
side and delivered themselves to the commanding general
of the Virginia
forces, at about 6 o'clock on Sunday morning, April 21st.
Their attempt to blow up the dock was not successful, and to burn the arsenal but partially so.
On the 22d, Vice-President Stephens
telegraphed President Davis
, from Richmond
Gosport navy yard burned and evacuated by the enemy; 2,500 guns, artillery and ordnance saved, and 3,000 barrels of powder;