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 command, to blockade our ports, to permeate the rivers that ran through our land, to aid its own armies and protect their lines of supply, to cut communications between Confederate armies and destroy Confederate depots of supply. The water was the weak point of the Confederacy; it was the opportunity of the Federal government. The task before the Navy Department of the Confederacy seemed utterly hopeless, but true courage never despairs. What was accomplished, if I had time to tell it all, would sound like a tale of fairy land. Confederate genius seemed to have discovered anew the Lamp of Aladdin. When Virginia added herself to the Confederacy, she brought with her the Tredegar Iron Works, which had never cast a large gun, had never made a naval engine, but had a plant which was a foundation on which to build. Virginia brought also the Norfolk Navy Yard, which was a construction yard; but the few ships at the Norfolk yard which could not be carried away had been burned or scuttled and sunk. And yet, in less than eleven months, the Confederate navy astonished the world. The sunken Merrimac, now the Virginia, had been raised, covered with deflective armor, and, on new lines, reconstructed into the grandest fighting machine that up that day had ever fired a gun in battle. On March 8, 1862, the Virginia appeared in Hampton Roads, and with her ten guns confronted the Minnesota, the St. Lawrence, the Roanoke, the Congress and the Cumberland, mounting altogether 174 guns. The Congress and the Cumberland were destroyed, and every other vessel that could, sought safety in flight. That was a glorious day for the new navy of the Confederacy, and a glorious day, too, it was for the old navy of the United States. As the Cumberland went down in the unequal contest, the Stars and Stripes still floated from her mast, and her guns still thundered and sent their useless missiles against the impenetrable sides of the Virginia, until they were enveloped in the water. While dedicating this monument, which is to tell to future generations the story of Confederate valor, let us, as we recall the memories of that combat, recall also the fact that all who are entitled to share in the glories of that day are our countrymen. Buchanan and Catesby Jones and Littlepage and others who fought the Virginia, and the gallant officers and men of the Congress and the Cumberland—they were Americans all, and the memory of the illustrious
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