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A hasty conference with his officers decided Tatnall that the wisest course now open to him was to abandon and burn his ship and save his crew for service in Richmond. She was, therefore, put on shore as near Craney Island as possible, and having but two boats it took three hours to land her crew. She was set fire to fore and aft, and was soon in full blaze. At about 4.30 o'clock on the morning of the 11th of May, 1862, her magazine exploded, and the Merrimac was a thing of the past. In the blaze of the burning vessel the crew were marched to Suffolk, twenty-two miles distant, where they took train for Richmond, arriving there in time to render valuable service in our land batteries at Drury's Bluff, where they had the pleasure of again meeting and foiling their old adversaries, the Monitor, Galena, and other United States vessels in their attack on Drury's Bluff May 15, 1862.

The success and the fame of the Merrimac had far outreached, in the imagination of the Southern people, her real capacity. The disappointment and indignation of the public, and the criticism of our press, were so vehement in their condemnation of Commodore Tatnall that he promptly requested a court of inquiry, and then a court-martial upon his conduct. After a full and exhaustive examination of all the particulars he was awarded an unanimous acquittal. The court, composed of a board of twelve officers of the highest rank and with the experience of many years' service, closed its finding in these words:

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Josiah Tatnall (2)
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