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[107]

The gist of the whole argument which Mr. Swinton makes is, not that the Monitor had seriously injured the Merrimac, but that the latter, powerful as she had proven to be, was unable to penetrate the Monitor with her shots, or to seriously injure her with her prow.

It is not denied that the Merrimac was disabled, but there is nothing but speculation to show that her disability was so serious as not to have been speedily remedied. The author of the pamphlet referred to, on page 11, quotes from the affidavit of Captain James Byers, whose testimony is fully set out in the report made to the Forty-seventh Congress.

It is only necessary to say, in regard to his statement, that he makes positive assertions of events which it was very improbable, if not impossible, for him to have seen, and that it is very unusual for educated naval officers, in the vicinity of an enemy, to allow a stranger to board their flag-ship and make a thorough examination of it.

The naval engagement from which this claim has its origin was one of the most novel that, up to that time at least, had ever occurred, and will remain in all time to come as one of the most celebrated in the annals of war. The officers and men on both sides exhibited a skill, bravery, and determination almost without parallel, and their names and achievements deserve to, and doubtless will, go down to posterity among the honored, whose actions never die.

The Congress of the United States, representing the wishes of its people, promptly recognized the skill, bravery, and gallantry of the men and officers of the United States Navy engaged in this memorable battle, and a grateful people will ever cherish their memories.

Officers of the Navy are entitled to prize-money when they capture or destroy property, provided it is in a line where the law of capture applies, but not otherwise. On the destruction of a vessel the price of that vessel may be awarded as prize-money under the rule, but where the enemy's vessel is not destroyed, no such rule obtains, and never has obtained in this or any other civilized country. It is claimed that this money should be awarded the petitioners on the ground that the Monitor saved from destruction Washington, Baltimore and other large cities of the North, and also saved from destruction the vessels which were in the harbor. The question presented by the memorialists is not one of the saving of New York or Washington, or of the vessels which were in Hampton Roads for the presumed purpose of making battle and protecting the United States forts and property, but the question is, was there any destruction of the Merrimac

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