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[22] way immediately to render such assistance as might be needed. Commodore Tatnall's account of the matter is as follows:

‘Upon getting into the Roads we found six of the enemies ships, including the ironclads Stevens, Monitor, and Naugatuck, shelling the battery. We passed the battery and stood directly for the enemy to engage him, and I thought an action certain, particularly as the Minnesota and Vanderbilt, which were anchored below Fort Monroe, got under way and stood up to that point, apparently with the intention of joining their squadron in the Roads. Before we got within gunshot the enemy ceased firing and retired with all speed under the protection of the guns at the fort, followed by the Merrimac until the shells from the Rip Raps passed over us. We, thereupon, returned to our anchorage near Sewell's Point, and I proceeded to Norfolk for the purposes of the conference called for this day.’

Let us see what the Federal account has to say of the affair. Commodore Goldsborough, United States Navy, then in command of the station at Fort Monroe, says:

‘The Monitor had orders to fall back into fair channel way, and only to engage seriously in such a position that this ship, together with the merchant vessels, intended for the purpose, could run her (the Merrimac) down. The other vessels were not to hesitate to run her down, and the Baltimore, an unarmed steamer of high speed and curved bow, was kept in the direction of the Monitor, especially to throw herself across the Merrimac forward or aft of her plated casemate, but the Merrimac did not engage the Monitor, nor did she place herself where she could have been assailed by our rams to any advantage.’ Let us sum the matter up.

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