The above facts go to show what Flag-officer Goldsborough thought of the Merrimac, and in citing them, I wish it to be understood that I intend to cast no imputations upon him and his gallant officers.
I have been told by some of them that he had positive orders from his government not to attack the Merrimac; and I believe it to be case.
Let us now see what some of the other officials thought.
At a council of war, assembled March 13th, 1862, at Fairfax C. H., Va., present, Generals Keyes, Heintzelman, McDowell, and Sumner, it was decided that General McClellan's plan to attack Richmond by York river should be adopted; provided, first, that the enemy's vessel, Merrimac, can be neutralized.
Page 55, series 1, vol. 5, official records of the Union and Confederate armies.
On page 751 I find the following letter:
Adjutant-General's office, Washington, March 13, 1862. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.
Sir,—I am directed by the Secretary of War to say that he