previous next

[652] him with hydrographical charts, by means of which he was able during a dark night to evade the vigilance of the Federal sailors.1

To bring this chapter to a close we have only to mention a maritime disaster which, although purely accidental, must find its place here; for we cannot allow the Monitor to disappear from the naval scene where she had played the most important part, without relating the manner of her loss. The year 1862 had seen her launched upon the sea, witnessed her first encounter with the Virginia, her fight at Drury's Bluff, and finally, when the year was about to expire, during the last night of December, it saw her go down in a storm.

The Federal navy was already assembling all its forces for the purpose of laying siege to Charleston. It was decided that the Monitor should precede the new turreted vessels which were being constructed on her model, and join Dupont's fleet on the coast of South Carolina. It was hoped that she would be able to force the passes of Fort Sumter. On the 29th of December she left Chesapeake Bay under the direction of Captain Bankhead, proceeding under steam, and towed, at the same time, by another vessel, the Rhode Island. As was to be expected at that season of the year, she found in deep water, south of Cape Hatteras, a chop sea, caused by strong southerly winds. It soon became evident that the Monitor was not in a condition to stand such a trial. The jerking of the tow-cable shook her violently, and the Rhode Island vainly slackened her speed to relieve her. The waves, breaking against the turret, shook it so as to detach the oakum inserted between the chinks of its junction with the deck. Moreover, this iron-plated deck, projecting considerably beyond the hull, formed a kind of balcony, which the sea struck underneath, and finally detached. Without any perceptible leak, the Monitor began to fill, the water penetrating at every point. The ordinary pumps being of no avail, it became necessary on the evening of the 30th to start the large centrifugal pump with the aid of the steam-engine; but at half-past 10 o'clock, tile storm increasing, the water gained decidedly. Captain Bankhead made a signal of distress, and two launches came to take a portion

1 Memoirs of Admiral Semmes, p. 516.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Bankhead (2)
Semmes (1)
Dupont (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1862 AD (1)
December 29th (1)
December (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: