(See Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XI, page 32.)
The statement that the Merrimac was disabled and driven from Hampton Roads into Norfolk is entirely incorrect and absurd. * * * The Monitor was neither the direct nor the remote cause of the destruction of the Merrimac.
If prize-money is to be awarded for her, let it be given to the gallant officers and crew of the Cumberland, which went down with her colors flying after doing nearly all the damage sustained by the Merrimac on the 8th and 9th of March, 1862.
The broadside fired by the Cumberland just as the Merrimac rammed her cut one of the Merrimac's guns off at the trunnions, the muzzle off another, tore up the carriage of her bow pivot gun, swept away her anchor, boats, and howitzers, riddled her smokestack and steampipe, and killed and wounded nineteen men.
The next day in the fight with the Monitor the Merrimac did not have a man killed or wounded or a gun disabled.
The only damage sustained by her worth mentioning, was by ramming the Monitor with her wooden stem-her cast-iron prow having been wrenched of the day before in the Cumberland.
This probably saved the Monitor from a similar fate.
It is true the Monitor struck us some powerful blows with her 11-inch guns when only a few feet from us, but not one of her shots penetrated our armor. * * * When the Merrimac left Hampton Roads for Norfolk the Monitor had passed over the bar, and hauled off into shoal water, where we could not reach her, the Merrimac's draft being over 20 feet and her's only about 10.
As there was nothing more to fight, the tide being favorable the Merrimac returned to Norfolk, where she was docked.
She was then thoroughly overhauled and equipped for fighting an iron-clad.
A prow of steel and wrought-iron was put on. Bolts of wrought-iron and chilled iron were supplied for the rifle guns, and other preparations made especially for the Monitor.
They were such as to make all on the Merrimac feel confident that we would either make a prize of or destroy the Monitor when we met again.
On the 11th of April, all being ready for the expected fray, the Merrimac again went to Hampton Roads.
The Monitor was lying at her moorings at the mouth of Elizabeth River, publishing to the world that she was blockading the Merrimac.
Greatly to our surprise, she refused to fight us, and as we approached, she gracefully retired and closely hugged the shore under the guns of Fortress Monroe.
As if to provoke her to combat, the Jamestown was sent in, and she captured several prizes, in which the Monitor seemed to acquiesce, as she offered no resistance.
French and English men-of-war were present; the latter cheered and dipped their flags as the Jamestown passed with the prizes.
On the 8th of May, when the Merrimac had returned
to Norfolk for supplies, a squadron, consisting of the Monitor, Naugatuck, and Galena (iron-clads), and five large men-of-war commenced to bombard our batteries at Sewell's Point.
The Merrimac immediately left Norfolk for the scene of conflict.
As she approached the squadron at full speed, the Vanderbilt, one of the fastest steamers then afloat, which, we understood, had been fitted with a prow especially for ramming us, joined the other ships.
We regarded the attack as an invitation to come out, and we expected a most desperate encounter.
Much to the disappointment of our commodore, and greatly to the relief of many others besides myself, as soon as the Merrimac came within range they seemed to conclude that Sewell's Point was not worth fighting about, and all hurried below the guns of Fortress Monroe and the Rip-Raps.
The Merrimac pursued at full speed, until she came well under the fire of the latter fort, when she returned to her moorings at the mouth of the river.
After the evacuation of Norfolk the Merrimac was taken above Craney Island and blown up, on the 11th of May. * * * She (the Monitor) had refused the gage of battle offered her by the Merrimac daily since the 11th of April.