The great ship being ready, Flag-Officer Buchanan ordered the Jamestown, Captain Barney, and the Yorktown, Captain Tucker, down from Richmond; while he went out with the Raleigh and Beaufort --two of the smallest class of gunboats, saved by Captain Lynch from Roanoke Island.
This combined force-four of the vessels being frail wooden shells, formerly used as river passenger boats-carried only twenty-seven guns.
But Buchanan steamed boldly out, on the morning of the 8th of March, to attack an enemy carrying quite two hundred and twenty of the heaviest guns in the United States navy!
It was a moment of dreadful suspense for the soldiers in the batteries and the people of Norfolk.
They crowded the wharves, the steeples, and the high points of the shore; and every eye was strained upon the black specks in the harbor.
Slowly — with somewhat of majesty in her stolid, even progressthe Virginia steamed on-down the harbor-past the river batteries-out into the Ro