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[350] station—the Cumberland and Congress. The neck of land forming Pinner's Point obstructed our line of vision, and the movements consequent upon preparation for an engagement were visible to us for some time before the Virginia hove in sight. It was an hour later when her ponderous form, majestic, though ungraceful, steamed circularly around the jutting headland of the Elizabeth, and headed directly towards the two detached Federal ships in the upper roads. Activity now prevailed in the shore batteries at Newport News, and in a little while curls of black smoke began to issue forth from the funnels of the Minnesota and her consorts. The Cumberland and Congress were kedged around to present something like a broadside to the approaching antagonist, nearest in the path of which the Congress lay. After this I took no note of time; but General Mansfield commanding the port at Newport News, in his report to General Wool, says that it was just 2 o'clock when the Virginia opened her bow gun. This was the signal for general engagement. The noise was terrific and the spectacle grand. Under fire of both the Federal frigates, several gunboats and of the numerus guns on the river bank, the Virginia steamed slowly but steadily on, returning the all-sided fusilade with spirit, and suffering no apparent damage from the shot that rained incessantly against her armored ribs. Disregarding the Congress, except to fling her a disdainfnl bolt or two in passing, she glided (rather than ran), with terrible deliberation and precision down upon the predoomed Cumberland. Nearer and nearer she drew. The suspense was agonizing, though the excitement was intoxicating. ‘By G—d!’ shouted one of the boatmen, ‘She is going to run her down!’ And so it was. From every porthole on the starboard side of the Cumberland flashed the lightnings of a rapid cannonade, the missiles of which glanced from the turtleback of her adversary as hailstones from a hipped roof of metal. The gallant tars who served the batteries of the Cumberland discharged an ineffective broadside at the very moment which sealed their fate. Then into the frail wooden walls crashed the terrible steel prow of the Virginia; the timber were cut in twain as though of parchment, the tall ship reeled and staggered as a drunken man—and then went down, the heroic crew still at their posts, the colors flying, and the cannon still belching out defiance, even as the water engulfed their iron throats. Even after her hull had disappeared, the smothered echo of one gun was heard mingling with the cries of strong men in their agony.

So absorbed had we become in this supreme tragedy that other

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