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[35] the destruction of the Confederate vessel Virginia (Merrimac) has naturally called forth many letters from those engaged in the naval operations in Hampton Roads from March 8, 1862, to May 6, 1862.

I commanded the Beaufort in the battles of the 8th and 9th of March, and in the operations under Commodore Tattnal, to which I shall allude. In fact, I may say I commanded a consort of the Merrimac from the time she was put in commission until she was blown up. I therefore profess to be familiar with her history.

The battle of March 8th I propose describing at some future day, in order to show more particularly what part the wooden vessels took in that memorable engagement. The battle of March 9th—that between the Monitor and the Merrimac—has been fully described by Captain Catesby Jones, her Commander, and by other of her officers. I do not propose here to repeat it; but there are some points in relation to the operations subsequent to that engagement which have either been unnoticed, or but lightly touched upon. These points are in my judgment so important, and bear so immediately upon the claim of the Monitor for prize money, that I venture to submit the following:

I. After the battle of the 9th of March, the Merrimac went into dock to replace the prow, or ram, which had been lost in sinking the Cumberland, to exchange some of her guns, and to make some small repairs to her armor and machinery. On the 11th of April Commodore Tattnall, who had succeeded Commodore Buchanan in the command, went down with his entire squadron, consisting of the Merrimac, Patrick Henry, Jamestown, Teaser, Beaufort and Raleigh, to offer battle to the Federal fleet then lying in Hampton Roads, or below Old Point. The Merrimac was the only iron-clad. Upon the appearance of our squadron the entire Federal fleet retreated below the Rip-Raps, or under the guns of Old Point. Three merchant vessels were run on shore by their masters between Newport's News and Old Point, and were partially abandoned. The Jamestown and Raleigh towed them off almost under the guns of Old Point and the Federal fleet. Their flags were hauled down and hoisted Union down under the Confederate flag as a defiance to induce the fleet to attempt to retake them. The fleet, under Flag-officer Goldsborough, consisted of a large number of wooden vessels, some of them very heavy frigates, the Monitor, the Naugatuck (a small iron-clad), and even the Vanderbilt, a powerful steamer specially prepared ‘to run down and sink the Merrimac.’

An English and a French man-of-war were present in the Roads

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