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[323] destroy the Minnesota when he had that vessel so completely in his power, and the Confederate naval authorities appeared to be dissatisfied with his action. To justify himself he wrote to several of his brother officers on the Virginia, who had advised him to return to Norfolk when he did, and of the replies that he received, that of Lieutenant Hunter Davidson, dated October 25, 1862, was the most interesting, as it emphasized the fact that the Monitor retired to shoal water some time before the Virginia was headed for Norfolk. Lieutenant Jones, in his letter to Lieutenant Davidson, said: ‘The action lasted four hours. We had run into the Monitor, causing us to leak, and received a shot from her which came near disabling the machinery, but continued to fight her until she was driven into shoal water.’ The following is a portion of Lieutenant Davidson's letter: It can be found on pages 60 and 61:

The Monitor engaged so much of your attention you had little time to attack the Minnesota, as it was evident the former's object was to relieve the latter by drawing us off. Whilst this novel warfare was going on the Virginia was run aground by the pilots; and remained so for about three-quarters of an hour, I think.

It was during the grounding of the Virginia that the Monitor received her coup de grace and hauled off on the shoals out of reach of our guns and gave us the opportunity to fire about eleven shells from my big bow gun at the Minnesota, six of which, not exploding prematurely as the rest did, appeared to take effect, although we were a mile distant.* * * When the Virginia was floated again I was informed that the pilots declared that it was impossible for us to get nearer the Minnesota. This circumstance, together with the fact that our officers and men were completely broken down by two days and a night's continuous work with the heaviest rifled ordnance in the world, and that the ship was believed to be seriously injured by ramming and sinking the Cumberland, and that if she should run aground and remain so in attempting to reach the Minnesota, she would probably open forward, where her horn had split the stem, and become an easy prey to the enemy, and in consideration also that the Monitor was drawn off and sought safety in shoal water and that the Minnesota was

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Norfolk (Virginia, United States) (2)
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