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[73] to displace several feet of the outside course; the wooden backing would not be broken through. When a shot struck directly at right angles, the wood would also be broken through, but not displaced. Generally the shot were much scattered; in three instances two or more struck near the same place, in each case causing more of the iron to be displaced, and the wood to bulge inside. A few struck near the water-line. The shield was never pierced; though it was evident that two shots striking in the same place would have made a large hole through everything.

The ship was docked; a prow of steel and wrought iron put on, and a course of two-inch iron on the hull below the roof extending in length 180 feet. Want of time and material prevented its completion. The damage to the armor was repaired; wrought-iron port-shutters were fitted, &c. The rifle guns were supplied with bolts of wrought and chilled iron. The ship was brought a foot deeper in the water, making her draft 23 feet.

Commodore Josiah Tatnall relieved Admiral Buchanan in command. On the 11th of April he took the Virginia down to Hampton Roads, expecting to have a desperate encounter with the Monitor. Greatly to our surprise, the Monitor refused to fight us. She closely hugged the shore under the guns of the fort, with her steam up. Hoping to provoke her to come out, the Jamestown1 was sent in, and captured several prizes, but the Monitor would not budge. It was proposed to take the vessel to York river, but it was decided in Richmond that she should remain near Norfolk for its protection.

Commodore Tatnall commanded the Virginia forty-five days, of which time there were only thirteen days that she was not in dock or in the hands of the navy-yard. Yet he succeed in impressing the enemy that we were ready for active service. It was evident that the enemy very much overrated2 our power and efficiency. The South also had the same exaggerated idea of the vessel.

On the 8th of May a squadron, including the Monitor, bombarded our batteries at Sewell Point. We immediately left the yard for the Roads. As we drew near, the Monitor and her consorts ceased bombarding, and retreated under the guns of the forts, keeping beyond the range of our guns. Men-of-war from below the forts, and vessels

1 French and English men-of-war were present. The latter cheered our gunboat as she passed with the prizes.

2 Some of the Northern papers estimated her to be equivalent to an army corps.

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