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Northern News.

We have received, through our special agent, a copy of the New York Herald, of the 10th inst. We copy the following from its account of the great naval battle of the 8th:

‘ We have to record to-day a slight reverse, combined with a reactionary success of the Union Navy, at Newport News, on the James river. The reverse recounts the destruction of two of our old wooden sailing frigates by the rebel naval monster, the Merrimac, and two iron-clad rebel gunboats. The success includes the subsequent defeat of the whole rebel force, and the disabling of the Merrimac by our new Ericsson battery and iron-clad gunboat Monitor. The facts, as officially reported are these: The Merrimac, which is said to be commanded by Capt. Buchanan, late of the Washington Navy Yard, came out of Nor folk on Saturday morning, and, together with the rebel iron-clad gunboats Yorktown and Jamestown, steamed down towards Newport News, where the frigates Cumberland and Congress were lying. Singals were at once displayed for assistance from the steamers Minnesota, Roanoke and St. Lawrence. The frigates being sailing vessels were completely at the mercy of the monster Merrimac and her attendant iron-mailed gunboats. The Merrimac made an attack on the Cumberland with her iron prow, and fairly cut her open; then drawing off she gave her a broadside and dashed into her again. The Cumberland immediately went down under this terrific shock, and it is said that about a hundred of her crew of five hundred were lost.--The Merrimac, Yorktown, and Jamestown then engaged the Congress with a heavy fire, our batteries at Newport News playing briskly on the rebel boats meanwhile, and the enemy returning with shell. The Congress, though she fought gallantly, had to succumb to the superior force of the enemy, and surrendered. Her officers were taken prisoners, the crew was allowed to escape in boats, and the frigate was then burned by the enemy.--The steamer going up to assist the frigates, although they opened a severe fire on the enemy, unfortunately were unable to approach near enough to disable them. The Minnesota also went aground. Darkness coming on, the progress of the fight could not well be observed.

The following morning, however, changed the features of the conflict, for the Ericsson battery, (gunboat Moniter, which left New York on Thursday, arrived at Fortress Monroe at 10 o'clock Saturday night, and at daylight yesterday morning she went gallantly into action with the whole three rebel steamers, having herself only two heavy guns.--The fight continued for five hours. Part of the time the Monitor and Merrimac were actually touching each other, that is to say, from 8 o'clock in the morning until noon, when the Merrimac drew off and was towed towards Norfolk in a sinking condition. The little Monitor is said to be uninjured, and ready to repel another attack at any moment. She went to Fortress Monroe merely on an experimental trip, and it would appear that the experiment proved quite successful.

The News and its Effects in Washington.

Washington, March 9.
--This has been a day of alternate gloom and sunshine, but has closed with a glorious burst of brightness for the Union cause. The news from Fortress Monroe about noon cast a deep gloom over the whole community. The achievements of the rebel iron-clad steamer Merrimac were the topic of every conversation. Fears were expressed that she would come up the Potomac and wipe out our Potomac flotilla, and perhaps set fire to the city of Washington and retire with impunity, as she was represented to be totally invulnerable. This evening the wind set in the other quarter.

A dispatch from the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, G. V. Fox, now at Fortress Monroe, shows that the little iron clad Erricson gunboat Monitor, with her two guns, is more than a match for the rebel iron monster that spread such consternation among our wooden ships at Newport News Point yesterday.

The dispatch was received here at 7½ o'clock. The telegraph line to Fortress Monroe was completed at 4 o'clock to-day.

The dispatch has created the wildest excitement in our city; which has been still more inflamed by the intelligence that the rebels had burned the steamer Page in Aquia creek, set fire to their camp equipage, and abandoned all their batteries along the Potomac. Our flotilla has landed forces and taken possession of the batteries, and the Stars and Stripes are now floating over them.

The vessels lost.

It will be observed that the Herald speaks of the vessels lost as "two old wooden sailing frigates;" but the same paper, in another column gives the following description of them:

The Cumberland.

The Cumberland was a sloop-of-war of 1,725 tons burthen, and carried twenty-four guns. She was built in 1842 at the Charlestown Navy-Yard, and was consequently twenty years old. She was lately attached to the Home squadron, and has done most effective service in helping to preserve the blockade. She was sunk, according to our advices, by being run down by the Merrimac. What portion of her officers, if any, have been lost, we have as yet received no positive information. The following is the last list of the officers that we have received:

The Congress.

The Congress is one of the wooden frigates of the line. She was built at the Kittery Navy-Yard in the year 1841, and is consequently twenty-one years old. She was of eighteen hundred and sixty-seven tons burthen and carried fifty guns. Previous to her having been placed on the blockading squadron she was in commission off the coast of Brazil, from which station she was recalled when the rebellion broke out. When she arrived in August last, four of her officers acted in such a manner as to cause them to be sent to Fort Lafayette. At last advices the vessel was under the charge of Commander Smith; but whether any change has since taken place in the commander, we have not yet learned. Our advices report that the vessel was surrendered after some heavy fighting.

The Herald's attempt to metamorphose a terrible disaster into a "slight reverse," or, as it says in another editorial, a "brilliant engagement," will not fail to excite a smile here. The account is intended for a foreign market, but we think it will hardly succeed, even in Europe.


The commandant of the French steamer, who arrived at Fortress Monroe from Norfolk on Friday last, states that the greatest excitement prevailed at Norfolk, in expectation of an attack and the destruction of the city by the Burnside expedition, and that the Merrimac was crowded with men ready for action.

Lieutenant J. S. Worden, who commanded the Monitor during the recent engagement, was injured by the cement from the pilot house being driven into his eyes.

The evacuation of Leesburg by the rebels and its occupation by Col. Geary on Saturday, is officially confirmed.

Yesterday morning the pickets of Colonel Hamilton, near Smith's Mills, were attacked by rebel scouts, and one of the 27th Indiana regiment was killed.

Scouting parties sent out in the direction of Winchester failed to meet with any resistance, except from a small cavalry pickets, but on Friday a brick skirmish took place between a company of our cavalry and a part of Colonel Ashby's rebel cavalry, between Bunker Hill and Winchester, in which six rebels were killed.

Up to last night all was quiet on the frontiers of the Upper Potomac.

Capt. Wm. D. Porter, Commander of the Mississippi gunboat Essex, is fast recovering from the injuries he sustained at the attack on Fort Henry.

Gen. McClellan has divided the grand army of the Potomac into five corps de armes. He has also ordered the following tariff of exchange of prisoners of war:

For a General Commander-in-Chief, sixty men.

  • Lieutenant-General, forty men.
  • Major-General, thirty men.
  • Brigadier-General, twenty men.
  • Colonel, fifteen men.
  • Lieutenant-Colonel, ten men.
  • Major, eight men.
  • Captain, six men.
  • Lieutenant, four men.
  • Sub-Lieutenant or Ensign, three men.
  • Non-commissioned officers, two men.
  • Privates, man for man.

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