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I commanded the Beaufort in the battles of the 8th and 9th of March, and in the operations under Commodore Tatnall, 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.

(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 Tatnall, who had succeeded Commodore Buchanan in the command, went down with his entire squadron, consisting of the Merrimac, Patrick Henry, Jamestown, Teazer, 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 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, and went up off Newport News evidently to witness the serious engagement which we at least expected. Their crews repeatedly waved their hats and handkerchiefs to our vessels as we passed and repassed them during the day.

The Merrimac, with her consorts, held possession of the Roads, and defied the enemy to battle during the entire day and for several days after—the Federal fleet lying in the same position below Old Point.

Towards sunset of the first day the Merrimac fired a single gun at the enemy; it was immediately replied to by the Naugatuck, lying, I think, inside Hampton Bar.

I do not know what Commodore Tatnall thought about attacking the Federal fleet as it stood, nor do I know what his instructions were, but I do know that our officers generally believed that torpedoes had been placed in the channel between Old Point and the Rip-Raps; indeed, we supposed that to be the reason why Flag-Officer Goldsborough declined to fight us in the Roads. Moreover, fighting the entire fleet—Monitor, Naugatuck, Vanderbilt, and all in the Roads—was one thing, and fighting the same under the guns of Old Point and the Rip-Raps was another.

(2.) The Merrimac remained for some days in this position, offering

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