the Merrimac, seriously damaged, abandoned the contest, and, with her companions, retreated towards Norfolk.
This terminated the most remarkable naval combat of modern times, perhaps of any age. The fiercest and most formidable naval assault upon the power of the Union which has ever been made by the insurgents was heroically repelled, and a new era was opened in the history of maritime warfare.
It has been stated that—
It is undisputed and undeniable that on the morning of the 9th of March, 1862, the Confederate iron-clad vessel Merrimac, with all the prestige and confidence gained by her victory of the previous day over the United States wooden fleet off Newport News, came out to destroy the United States frigate Minnesota, and whatever other vessels she might there encounter which had escaped her devastation of the previous day; that as she approached the Minnesota the United States steamer Monitor, commanded by Lieutenant John L. Worden, and which had arrived on the ground late on the night before, attacked the Merrimac; engaged her for four hours in fierce combat; that the Merrimac finally retired from the battle-ground in a disabled and crippled condition, retreated to Norfolk and immediately went into dry-dock to prevent her from sinking.
The evidence of these facts is most reliable and authentic, and it is not understood that up to this point there is any denial or controversy as to their existence.
This is a singular statement in view of the official record published in regard to this engagement.
In Volume IX, page 7, of the Official Records
of the War
of the Rebellion
will be found a report from S. R. Mallory
of the Confederate navy, dated Richmond, Va.
, April 7, 1862, in which he says:
I have the honor to submit herewith a copy of the detailed report No. 7, of Flag-Officer Buchanan, of the brilliant triumph of his squadron over the vastly superior forces of the enemy in Hampton Roads, on March 8th and 9th last, a brief report by Lieutenant Jones of the battle of the 8th having been previously made.
The conduct of the officers and men of the squadron in this contest reflects unfading honor upon themselves and upon the navy.
The report will be read with deep interest, and its details will not fail to arouse the ardor and nerve the arms of our gallant seamen.
It will be remembered that the Virginia was a novelty in naval architecture, wholly unlike any ship that ever floated; that her heaviest guns were equal novelties in ordnance; that her motive power and her obedience to her helm were untried, and her officers and crew strangers, comparatively, to the ship and to each other, and yet, under all these disadvantages, the dashing courage and consummate