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[76]

The two pounded away at each other at long range. While the damage to the Virginia was not great, the Minnesota suffered so severly that her captain reports that he had resolved to abandon and destroy her, when he saw the Virginia, after her engagement with the Monitor, turning toward Norfolk to procure a new beak and repair other damages.

Our noble admiral, Franklin Buchanan, of Maryland, was struck down by a severe wound while fighting the Congress. The command of the Virginia then developed upon Captain Catesby Jones, of Virginia, under whom the fighting was continued to its successful issue.

At daylight of the second day the Monitor, which had come in during the night, was discovered lying by the Minnesota. She bravely advanced to battle with the Virginia, and for more than an hour the most remarkable combat the world had ever seen was sustained by these two ships, until the captain of the Monitor was wounded, when his ship escaped into shoal water and never again ventured out to attack the Virginia.

During the fighting of the two days the heavy guns of Newport News, and of the Cumberland, Congress, Roanoke, St. Lawrence, Minnesota and Monitor, had inflicted some damage on the Virginia, and ever since her beak had been wrenched off by the sinking Cumberland she had been leaking. There being no Federal ship to offer or accept battle, she returned to Norfolk to repair damages.

Some weeks later, with a new beak and again ready for battle, the Virginia sailed out from Norfolk to attack the reinforced Federal fleet, then bombarding our batteries at Sewell's Point. When she hove in sight, this whole fleet, consisting of the Monitor, two other ironclads, ten wooden frigates, etc., ceased firing and incontinently fled to shoal water and the protection of Fortress Monroe.

The Virginia pursued them as closely as her draught would permit, and challenged the Monitor to come out and fight; but neither she nor any other ship would venture out from their place of refuge, and the Virginia retired to her anchorage off the mouth of James river, in full view of her enemy. She daily renewed her challenge to battle, and remained unmolested until the Confederate Government withdrew the troops and vessels towards Richmond, when the Virginia, drawing too much water to get over James river bar, was dismantled, abandoned and destroyed by her crew. A few years ago the United States Congress voted $200,000 prize money to the crew of the Monitor for destroying the Virginia!


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