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Story of the fight.

About 11 o'clock Saturday the Virginia, then flagship, twelve guns, Captain Franklin Buchanan commanding, accompanied by the Raleigh and Beaufort, one gun each, left Gosport navyyard; when we were opposite Norfolk all hands were piped to dinner. After dinner all hands were called to quarters.

Then “All hands ready for action” was heard, Captain Buchanan speaking from the quarter-deck. Not one of the crew up to that time knew or suspected what he would hear from the captain, although we had crossed the roads and were closing in upon the enemy. The latter began to pour shot and shell into us, but with [245] no effect, as all the missles which struck the ship's sides slid off without inflicting the slighest damage.

Our first shot was from the bow gun, No. 1 (7 a-inch rifle), fired into the Cumberland. Immediately after firing, we rammed the starboard bow of the Cumberland and in fifteen minutes all was over, the vessel going down with her guns firing and colors flying. No braver heroes ever lived than the men who manned the Cumberland.

After sinking the Cumberland we were reinforced by the steamers Patrick Henry, Jamestown and Teaser, of the James river fleet, which rendered good service. We engaged the Congress and had considerable difficulty in getting in proper position, being under heavy fire from the shore batteries and the fleet of the enemy. In manoeuvering we silenced several of the shore batteries, blew up a steamer at the wharf, sank a sailing vessel and captured a schooner, which we sent to Norfolk. In the meantime the Congress had been run aground, and, getting in position, we commenced firing upon her. Our shots took quick effect, and the vessel hauled down her colors and sent up the white flag, many of the men hurriedly leaving the ship.

Our commander sent the Beaufort and the Raleigh to rescue the wounded aboard the Congress. Just as they were in the act of taking these poor mortals to safety and while the white flag was still flying, the shore batteries and the guns on the Congress opened fire upon our boats, killing some officers and men—a cowardly act in warfare.



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