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‘ [18] and Maine to protect their harbors with large timber rafts’— Rebellion Records, page 20, series 1, volume I. On the same date General McClellan sent telegrams to the commanding officers at New York, Newport, New London, Boston and Portland, Maine, to the same effect. Admiral Dalhgren is busy at Washington having twenty-four canal boats laden with stone to close the Potomac river.

General McClellan on March 9th sends a telegram to General Wool, at Fort Monroe, in which, foreseeing the necessity of evacuating Newport News in the event the Merrimac gains possession of the Roads, he consents to a withdrawal of the garrison to Old Point, Rebellion Records, page 23, series 1, volume I. March 10th while openly proclaiming the defeat of the Merrimac by the Monitor in the engagement of the 9th, Secretary Welles wires the Assistant-Secretary of the Navy at Fort Monroe, ‘The President directs that the Monitor be not too much exposed and authorizes vessels laden with stone to be sunk in the channel of Elizabeth river to prevent the Merrimac from again coming out.’—Do., page 25. As late as the 12th General McClellan telegraphs Assistant-Secretary Fox: ‘Can I rely on the Monitor to keep the Merrimac in check so that I can make “Fort Monroe a base of operations?” ’—Do., page 27. The same date General Barnard, chief of engineers, McClellan's army, wires Assistant-Secretary Fox: ‘The possibility of the Merrimac appearing again, paralyzes the movements of this army by whatever route is adopted.’—Do., page 27. The climax of absurdity is, however, reached when Secretary-of-War Stanton, passing over the educated, intelligent and skilled corps of naval and army officers, telegraphs Mr. C. Vanderbilt, a private citizen of New York, the owner of river and ocean steamers: ‘For what sum will you contract to destroy the Merrimac, or prevent her from coming out from Norfolk, you to sink or destroy her if she gets out? Answer by telegram, as there is no time to be lost.’—Do., page 31. The doughty commodore of steamboats was unequal to the conundrum, but his patriotism prompted him to make the munificent gift of the large ocean steamer Vanderbilt to the United States Government to be sacrificed, if necessary, in running the Merrimac down.

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