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Doc. 82.-fight in Hampton roads, Va., March 8th and 9th, 1862.

Flag-officer Marston's report.

United States steamer Roanoke, Hampton roads, March 9, 1862.
To Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:
sir: I have the honor to inform you that yesterday, at one o'clock, one of the lookout vessels reported, by signal, that the enemy was coming out. I immediately ordered the Minnesota to get under way, and as soon as the two tugs appointed to tow this ship came alongside, I slipped our cable. The Merrimac was soon discovered passing out by Sewall's Point, standing up toward Newport News, accompanied by several small gunboats.

Every exertion was made by us to get all the speed on the Roanoke that the two tugs were capable of giving her, but in consequence of our bad steerage, we did not get ahead as rapidly as we desired to.

The Merrimac went up and immediately attacked the Congress and Cumberland, but particularly the latter ship, which was hid from us by the land.

When about seven or eight miles from Fortress Monroe, the Minnesota grounded. We continued to stand on, and when we came in sight of the Cumberland, we saw that she had careened over, apparently full of water.

The enemy, who had been joined by two or three steamers from James River, now devoted himself exclusively to the Congress, but she being aground, could bring but five guns to bear on him, and at ten minutes before four o'clock we had the mortification of seeing her haul down her flag. I continued to stand on until we found ourselves in three and a half fathoms of water, and was on the ground astern. Finding that we could go no further, I ordered one of the tugs to tow us round, and as soon as the Roanoke's head was pointed down the bay, and I found she was afloat again, I directed the tugs to go to the assistance of the Minnesota, under the hope that, with the assistance of the two others which had accompanied her, they would be able to get her off; but up to the time that I now write, have not succeeded in doing so.

At five o'clock the frigate St. Lawrence, in tow of the Cambridge, passed us, and not long after she also grounded, but by the aid of the Cambridge she was got afloat again, and being unable to render any assistance to the Minnesota, came down the harbor.

In passing the batteries at Sewall's Point, both going and returning, the rebels opened fire on us, which was returned from our pivot-guns, but the range was too great for them, while the enemy's shot fell far beyond us. One shot went through our foresails, cutting away two of our shrouds, and several shell burst over and near the ship, scattering their fragments on the deck.

Between seven and eight o'clock we discovered that the rebels had set fire to the Congress, and she continued to burn till one o'clock, when she blew up. This was a melancholy satisfaction to me, for as she had fallen into the hands of the enemy, it was far better to have her destroyed than she should be employed against us at some future day.

It was the impression of some of my officers, that the rebels hoisted the French flag, but I heard that the Monitor had arrived, and soon after Lieut. Commanding Worden came on board, and I immediately ordered him to go up to the Minnesota, hoping she would be able to keep off [267] an attack on the Minnesota till we had got her afloat again.

This morning the Merrimac renewed the attack on the Minnesota, but she found, no doubt greatly to her surprise, a new opponent in the Monitor.

The contest has been going on during most of the day between these two armored vessels, and most beautifully has the little Monitor sustained herself, showing herself capable of great endurance. I have not received any official accounts of the loss of the Congress and Cumberland, but no doubt shall do so, when it will be transmitted to you.

I should do injustice to this military department did I not inform you that every assistance was freely tendered to us — sending five of their tugs to the relief of the Minnesota, and offering all the aid in their power. I would also beg leave to say that Capt. Poor, of the Ordnance Department, kindly volunteered to do duty temporarily on board this ship, and from whom I have received much assistance.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John Marston, Captain and Senior Officer.

Report of Captain Van brunt.

United States steamer Minnesota, March 10, 1862.
sir: On Saturday, the eighth instant, at forty-five minutes after twelve o'clock P. M., three small steamers, in appearance, were discovered rounding Sewall's Point, and as soon as they came into full broadside view, I was convinced that one was the iron-plated steam-battery Merrimac, from the large size of her smoke-pipe. They were heading for Newport News, and I, in obedience to a signal from the senior officer present, Capt. John Marston, immediately called all hands, slipped my cables, and got under way for that point, to engage her. While rapidly passing Sewall's Point, the rebels there opened fire upon us from a rifle-battery, one shot from which going through and crippling my mainmast. I returned the fire with my broadside-guns and forecastle-pivot. We ran without further difficulty within about one and a half miles of Newport News, and there, unfortunately, grounded. The tide was running ebb, and although in the channel there was not sufficient water for this ship, which draws twenty-three feet, I knew the bottom was soft and lumpy, and endeavored to force the ship over, but found it impossible so to do. At this time it was reported to me that the Merrimac had passed the frigate Congress and run into the sloop-of-war Cumberland, and in fifteen minutes after, I saw the latter going down by the head. The Merrimac then hauled off, taking a position, and about half-past 2 o'clock P. M., engaged the Congress, throwing shot and shell into her with terrific effect, while the shot from the Congress glanced from her iron-plated sloping sides, without doing any apparent injury. At half-past 3 o'clock P. M., the Congress was compelled to haul down her colors. Of the extent of her loss and injury, you will be informed from the official report of her commander.

At four o'clock P. M., the Merrimac, Jamestown and Patrick Henry, bore down upon my vessel. Very fortunately, the iron battery drew too much water to come within a mile of us. She took a position on my starboard bow, but did not fire with accuracy, and only one shot passed through the ship's bow. The other two steamers took their position on my port bow and stern, and their fire did most damage in killing and wounding men, inasmuch as they fired with rifled guns; but with the heavy gun that I could bring to bear upon them, I drove them off, one of them apparently in a crippled state. I fired upon the Merrimac with my ten-inch pivot-gun, without any apparent effect, and at seven o'clock P. M., she too hauled off, and all three vessels steamed toward Norfolk.

The tremendous firing of my broadside guns had crowded me further upon the mud-bank, into which the ship seemed to have made for herself a cradle. From ten P. M., when the tide commenced to run flood, until four A. M., I had all hands at work, with steamtugs and hawsers, endeavoring to haul the ship off the bank; but without avail, and as the tide had then fallen considerably, I suspended further proceedings at that time.

At two A. M. the iron battery Monitor, Com. John L. Worden, which had arrived the previous evening at Hampton Roads, came alongside and reported for duty, and then all on board felt that we had a friend that would stand by us in our hour of trial.

At six A. M. the enemy again appeared, coming down from Craney Island, and I beat to quarters ; but they ran past my ship, and were heading for Fortress Monroe, and the retreat was beaten, to allow my men to get something to eat. The Merrimac ran down near the Rip Raps, and then turned into the channel through which I had come. Again all hands were called to quarters, and opened upon her with my stern-guns, and made signal to the Monitor to attack the enemy. She immediately ran down in my wake, right within the range of the Merrimac, completely covering my ship, as far as was possible with her diminutive dimensions, and, much to my astonishment, laid herself right alongside of the Merrimac, and the contrast was that of a pigmy to a giant. Gun after gun was fired by the Monitor, which was returned with whole broadsides from the rebels, with no more effect, apparently, than so many pebble-stones thrown by a child. After a while they commenced manoeuvring, and we could see the little battery point her bow for the rebel's, with the intention, as I thought, of sending a shot through her bow-porthole; then she would shoot by her, and rake her through her stern. In the mean time the rebels were pouring broadside after broadside, but almost all her shot flew over the little submerged propeller; and when they struck the bomb-proof tower, the shot glanced off without producing any effect, clearly establishing the fact that wooden vessels cannot con tend [268] successfully with iron-clad ones, for never before was anything like it dreamed of by the greatest enthusiast in maritime warfare. The Merrimac, finding that she could make nothing of the Monitor, turned her attention once more to me in the morning. She had put one eleveninch shot under my counter, near the water-line, and now, on her second approach, I opened upon her with all my broadside-guns and ten-inch pivot — a broadside which would have blown out of water any timber-built ship in the world. She returned my fire with her rifled bow-gun, with a shell which passed through the chief engineer's state-room, through the engineer's mess-room amidships, and burst in the boatswain's room, tearing four rooms all into one, in its passage exploding two charges of powder, which set the ship on fire, but it was promptly extinguished by a party headed by my first lieutenant. Her second went through the boiler of the tugboat Dragon, exploding it, and causing some consternation on board my ship for the moment, until the matter was explained. This time I had concentrated upon her an incessant fire from my gun-deck, spardeck and forecastle pivot-guns, and was informed by my marine officer, who was stationed on the poop, that at least fifty solid shot struck her on her slanting side, without producing any apparent effect. By the time she had fired her third shell, the little Monitor had come down upon her, placing herself between us, and compelled her to change her position, in doing which she grounded, and again I poured into her all the guns which could be brought to bear upon her. As soon as she got off, she stood down the bay, the little battery chasing her with all speed, when suddenly the Merrimac turned around, and ran full speed into her antagonist. For a moment I was anxious, but instantly I saw a shot plunge into the iron roof of the Merrimac, which surely must have damaged her, for some time after the rebels concentrated their whole battery upon the tower and pilot-house of the Monitor, and soon after the latter stood down for Fortress Monroe, and we thought it probable she had exhausted her supply of ammunition, or sustained some injury. Soon after the Merrimac and the two other steamers headed for my ship, and I then felt to the fullest extent my condition. I was hard and immovable aground, and they could take position under my stern and rake me. I had expended most of my solid shot, and my ship was badly crippled, and my officers and men were worn out with fatigue; but even in this extreme dilemma I determined never to give up the ship to the rebels, and after consulting my officers, I ordered every preparation to be made to destroy the ship, after all hope was gone to save her. On ascending the poop-deck, I observed that the enemy's vessels had changed their course, and were heading for Craney Island; then I determined to lighten the ship by throwing overboard my eight-inch guns, hoisting out provisions, starting water, etc. At two P. M. I proceeded to make another attempt to save the ship, by the use of a number of powerful tugs and the steamer S. R. Spaulding--kindly sent to my assistance by Captain Talmadge, Quartermaster at Fortress Monroe--and succeeded in dragging her half a mile distant, and then she was again immovable, the tide having fallen. At two A. M. this morning I succeeded in getting the ship once more afloat, and am now at anchor opposite Fortress Monroe.

It gives me great pleasure to say that, during the whole of these trying scenes, the officers and men conducted themselves with great courage and coolness.

I have the honor to be your very obedient servant,

G. J. Van brunt, Captain U. S. N., Commanding Frigate Minnesota. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, washington, D. C.

Commander Radford's report.

Fortress Monroe, Va., March 10, 1862.
sir: It is my painful duty to have to report the loss of the United States ship Cumberland, under my command, on the eighth inst., at Newport News, Va. I was on board the United States frigate Roanoke, by order of the Hon. Secretary of the Navy, as member of a Court of Inquiry, when the Merrimac came out from Norfolk. I immediately procured a horse, and proceeded with all despatch to Newport News, where I arrived only in time to see the Cumberland sunk, by being run into by the rebel iron-clad steamer Merrimac. Though I could not reach the Cumberland before the action was over, I have the satisfaction of reporting that, so long as her guns were above water, every one on board must have done his duty nobly. I send with this the report, by Lieut. George W. Morris, of the action, he being, in my absence, the commanding officer, and also the Surgeon's report of the wounded saved. The loss was very large in killed, wounded and drowned, though the number cannot be ascertained. Enough is known, however, to make the loss one hundred. I send also a list of the men known to have been saved, but have no accurate means of giving the names of those lost or killed, as no officer or man brought anything on shore save what he stood in, consequently I have no muster-roll of the crew.

Very respectfully your obedient servant,

Wm. Radford, Commander. The Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy.

Report of the Sick and Wounded of the United States sloop-of-war Cumberland, March 10, 1862:
Geo. W. Butt, seaman, Virginia, hospital of Seventh regiment, Camp Butler; burns and contusions of head and face.

John Grady, seaman, Ireland, hospital of the Seventh regiment, Camp Butler; lacerated wound of right arm, burns of face.

John McGwin, Providence, R. I., hospital at Fort Monroe; slight wound right side of head.

John Bates, New-York City, hospital at Fort Monroe; slight wounds on left arm and buttock. [269]

John Orvine, Assistant Mate, Roxbury, Mass., hospital at Fort Monroe; wound on left heel.

Edward Cobb, Signal — Quartermaster, Boston, hospital at Fort Monroe; wounds slight of head, throat and abdomen.

John Gardner, Quartermaster, New-York City, hospital at Fort Monroe; contusion of right thigh.

Alexander McFadden, Mate, Philadelphia, hospital at Fort Monroe; lacerated wound of left fore-arm.

John B. Cavenaugh, Whitehall, N. Y., hospital at Fort Monroe; slight wound over the left temple.

John Bart, Ireland, hospital at Fort Monroe; contusion and abrasion of back.

J. V. Russell, Philadelphia, hospital at Fort Monroe; exhaustion — a long time in the water.

Lochlin Livingston, Boston, Mass., hospital at Fort Monroe; intermittent fever.

James Benson, Detroit, Mich., hospital at Fort Monroe; rheumatism.

M. Stuyvesant, Master, Cincinnati, O., hospital at Fort Monroe; slight penetration-wound on left forearm from splinter.

Respectfully your obedient servants,

Chas. Martin, United States Navy. Wm. Radford, Commander United States Navy.

Lieutenant Morris's report.

Newport News, Va., March 9, 1862.
sir: Yesterday morning, at nine A. M., I discovered two steamers at anchor off Smithfield Point, on the left-hand or western side of the river, distant about twelve miles. At twelve meridian I discovered three vessels under steam, standing down the Elizabeth river toward Sewall's Point. I beat to quarters, double-breeched the guns on the main deck, and cleared ship for action.

At one P. M. the enemy hove in sight, gradually nearing us. The iron-clad steamer Merrimac, accompanied by two steam gunboats, passed ahead of the Congress frigate and steered down toward us. We opened fire on her. She stood on and struck us under the starboard fore-channels. She delivered her fire at the same time. The destruction was great. We returned the fire with solid shot with alacrity.

At thirty minutes past three the water had gained upon us, notwithstanding the pumps were kept actively employed to a degree that, the forward-magazine being drowned, we had to take powder from the after-magazine for the ten-inch gun. At thirty-five minutes past three, the water had risen to the main hatchway, and the ship cantered to port, and we delivered a parting fire — each man trying to save himself by jumping overboard.

Timely notice was given, and all the wounded who could walk were ordered out of the cockpit; but those of the wounded who had been carried into the sick bay and on the berth-deck, were so mangled that it was impossible to save them.

It is impossible for me to individualize. Alike, the officers and men all behaved in the most gallant manner. Lieut. Selfridge and Master Stuyvesant were in command of the gun-deck divisions, and they did all that noble and gallant officers could do. Acting Masters Randall and Kennison, who had charge each of a pivot-gun, showed the most perfect coolness, and did all they could to save our noble ship; but, I am sorry to say, without avail. Among the last to leave the ship were Sergeant Martin and Assistant-Surgeon Kershaw, who did all they could for the wounded promptly and faithfully.

The loss we sustained I cannot yet inform you of, but it has been very great. The warrant and steerage officers could not have been more prompt and active than they were at their different stations. Chaplain Lenhart is missing. Master's mate John Harrington was killed. I should judge we have lost upward of one hundred men. I can only say, in conclusion, that all did their duty, and we sank with the American flag flying at the peak.

I am, sir, etc.,

Geo. M. Morris, Lieut. and Executive Officer.

Report of Lieutenant Pendergrast.

Lieut. Pendergrast states that, “owing to the death of the late commanding officer, Joseph B. Smith, it becomes my painful duty to make a report to you of the part which the United States frigate Congress took in the efforts of our vessels at Newport News to repel the attack of the rebel flotilla on the eighth instant.” The report says that “when the Merrimac, with three small gun-boats, was seen steaming down from Norfolk, and had approached near enough to discover her character, the ship was cleared for action. At ten minutes past two the Merrimac opened with her bow-gun with grape, passing us on the starboard side at a distance of about three hundred yards, receiving our broadside and giving one in return. After passing the Congress, she ran into and sunk the Cumberland. The smaller vessels then attacked us, killing and wounding many of our crew. Seeing the fate of the Cumberland, we set the jib and topsail, and with the assistance of the gunboat Zouave, ran the vessel ashore. At half-past 2, the Merrimac took a position astern of us, at a distance of about one hundred and fifty yards, and raked us fore and aft with shells, while one of the smaller steamers kept up a fire on our starboard quarter. In the mean time, the Patrick Henry and the Thomas Jefferson, rebel steamers, appeared from up the James River, firing with precision, and doing us great damage. Our two stern-guns were our only means of defence. These were soon disabled, one being dismounted, and the other having its muzzle knocked away. The men were knocked away from them with great rapidity and slaughter by the terrible fire of the enemy.”

Lieut. Pendergrast first learned of the death of Lieut. Smith at half-past 4 o'clock. “The death happened ten minutes previous. Seeing that our men were being killed without the prospect of any relief from the Minnesota, which vessel had run ashore in attempting to get up to us from Hampton Roads, not being able to get a single [270] gun to bear upon the enemy, and the ship being on fire in several places, upon consultation with Commander William Smith, we deemed it proper to haul down our colors, without any further loss of life on our part. We were soon boarded by an officer of the Merrimac, who said he would take charge of the ship. He left shortly afterward, and a small tug came alongside, whose captain demanded that we should surrender and get out of the ship, as he intended to burn her immediately. A sharp fire with muskets and artillery was maintained from our troops ashore upon the tug, having the effect of driving her off. The Merrimac again opened upon us, although we had a peak to show that we were out of action. After having fired several shells into us, she left us, and engaged the Minnesota and the shore-batteries,” after which, Lieut. Pendergrast states, the wounded were taken ashore in small boats, the ship having been on fire from the beginning of the action, from hot shot fired by the Merrimac, He reports the death of the following officers: Lieut. Joseph B. Smith, Acting Master Thomas Moore, and Pilot Wm. Rhodes.

Report of Captain Watson.

United States steamer Dragon, March 8, 1862.
At six P. M., went alongside of the Roanoke, and was ordered to get up a big head of steam, and go on the starboard side and make fast, as the Merrimac was in sight, and the signal given to get under weigh and go after her. At half-past 1 P. M., slipped the anchors of the Roanoke and started for the Merrimac. At two P. M., received orders to take a hawser and go ahead, as the ship had got ashore, and it was necessary to get her head in the right direction. At the same time the batteries at Sewall's Point opened on the tow, which was immediately responded to by the Roanoke and Dragon. On nearing Newport News, I was ordered to tow the Roanoke head toward the Rip Raps, and let go, and go to the Minnesota and render every assistance possible, which was done with a will. Arriving at the Minnesota, took position and opened fire on the Yorktown and Jamestown. Kept it up until dark, when we received orders to cease firing and lay by the ship until morning. At two A. M., tried to tow the Minnesota off the bottom, and succeeded only to ground in another and more exposed place. Made fast for the night. Second day, at eight A. M., we were ordered to take up position as best we could, and opened fire on the Yorktown and Jamestown, with good effect; could plainly see our shells bursting on the enemy. At twelve M., received orders to go alongside of the Minnesota, and be ready to assist in towing her off. Made fast on the port-side, being in direct line of the Merrimac's batteries. At the same moment received two shots from her, one taking effect in the boiler, blowing up the vessel, together with the captain and three men; seriously wounding Charles J. Freese; badly scalding Ben. S. Hungerford, and breaking the legs of----McDonald, which will have to be amputated Received orders to get on board the Minnesota. Vessel on fire. Shortly after received orders to get bags and hammocks on board of the Whitehall.

The following is a list of officers at the time:

Acting Master Commanding.--Wm. Watson.

First Engineer.--Wm. A. Seward.

Second Engineer.--Thomas Jordan.

Master's Mate.--Wm. Bowdin.

Quartermaster.--Ben. S. Hungerford.

Steward.--Jeferine Banditche.

Six firemen and ten seamen.

Wm. Watson, Captain.

G. V. Fox's despatch.

Fortress Monroe, March 9, 6.45 P. M.
Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy:
The Monitor arrived at ten P. M., yesterday, and went immediately to the protection of the Minnesota, lying aground just opposite Newport News. At seven A. M., to-day, the Merrimac, accompanied by two wooden steamers and several tugs, stood out toward the Minnesota and opened fire. The Monitor met them at once, and opened her fire, when all the enemy's vessels retired, excepting the Merrimac. These two iron-clad vessels fought, part of the time touching each other, from eight A. M. to noon, when the Merrimac retired. Whether she is injured or not it is impossible to say. Lieut. J. L. Worden, who commanded the Monitor, handled her with great skill, assisted by Chief-Engineer Stimers. Lieut. Worden was injured by the cement from the pilot-house being driven into his eyes, but I trust not seriously. The Minnesota kept up a continuous fire, and is herself somewhat injured. She was moved considerably to-day and will probably be off to-night. The Monitor is uninjured, and ready at any moment to repel any attack.

G. V. Fox, Assistant-Secretary of the Navy.

Engineer Stimers' letter.

iron-clad Monitor Hampton roads, March 9, 1862.
my dear sir: After a stormy passage, which proved us to be the finest sea-boat I was ever in, we fought the Merrimac for more than three hours this forenoon, and sent her back to Norfolk in a sinking condition. Iron-clad against iron-clad. We manoeuvred about the bay here, and went at each other with mutual fierceness. I consider that both ships were well fought; we were struck twenty-two times: pilot-house twice, turret nine times, side-armor eight times, deck three times. The only vulnerable point was the pilot-house. One of your great logs (nine by twelve inches thick) is broken in two. The shot struck just outside of where the captain had his eye, and it has disabled him by destroying his left eye and temporarily blinding the other. The log is not quite in two, but is broken and pressed inward one and a half inches. [The “log” alluded to is made of wrought-iron of the best material.] She tried to run us down and sink us as she did the Cumberland yesterday, but she got the worst of it. Her bow passed over our deck, [271] and our sharp upper-edged side cut through the light iron shoe upon her stem and well into her oak. She will not try that again. She gave us a tremendous thump, but did not injure us in the least. We are just able to find the point of contact.

The turret is a splendid structure. I don't think much of the shield, but the pendulums are fine things, though I cannot tell you how they would stand the shot, as they were not hit.

You were very correct in your estimate of the effect of shot upon the man inside of the turret when it was struck near him. Three men were knocked down, of whom I was one; the other two had to be carried below, but I was not disabled at all, and the others recovered before the battle was over. Captain Worden stationed himself at the pilot-house, Greene fired the guns, and I turned the turret until the Captain was disabled and was relieved by Greene, when I managed the turret myself, Master Stodden having been one of the two stunned men.

Captain Ericsson, I congratulate you upon your great success. Thousands have this day blessed you. I have heard whole crews cheer you. Every man feels that you have saved this place to the nation by furnishing us with the means to whip an iron-clad frigate that was, until our arrival, having it all her own way with our most powerful vessels.

I am, with much esteem, very truly yours,

Alban C. Stimers. Captain J. Ericsson, No. 95 Franklin Street, New-York.

Official reports to the rebel Congress, sent in March 13, 1862.

President's message.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States:
I herewith transmit a letter of the Secretary of the Navy, of this date, covering the official report of the naval engagement between the James River squadron and the enemy's fleet at Hampton Roads on the eighth instant. The officers and men of the navy engaged in this brilliant affair deserve well of the country, and are commended to the consideration of Congress. The disparity of the forces engaged did not justify the anticipation of so great a victory, and it is doubly gratifying that it has been won upon an element where we were supposed to be least able to compete with our enemy. Special attention is called to the perfidious conduct of the enemy in hoisting, on the frigate Congress, a white flag, and renewing fire from that vessel under the impunity thus obtained.

Jefferson Davis. March 11, 1862.

C. S. Steam-battery Virginia, off Sewall's Point, March 8, 1862.
Flag-officer: In consequence of the wound of Flag-Officer Buchanan, it becomes my duty to report that the Virginia left the yard this morning, at eleven A. M., steamed down the river past our batteries and over to Newport News, where we engaged the batteries ashore, and also two large steam frigates, supposed to be the Minnesota and Roanoke, and a sailing frigate and several small steamers, armed with heavy rifled guns. We sunk the Cumberland, drove the Congress ashore, when she hauled down her colors and hoisted the white flag; but she fired upon us with the white flag flying, wounding Lieut. Minor and several of our men. We again opened fire upon her, and she is now in flames. The shoal-water prevented our reaching the other frigates. This, with the approach of night, we think, saved them from destruction. Our loss is two killed and eight wounded. Two of our guns have the muzzles shot off. The prow was twisted and the armor somewhat damaged. The anchor and all flagstaffs shot away, and smoke-stack and steampipe were riddled. The bearing of the officers and men was all that could be wished, and in fact it could not have been otherwise, after the noble and daring conduct of the Flag-Officer, whose wound is deeply regretted by all on board, who would gladly have sacrificed themselves in order to save him. We were accompanied from the yard by the Beaufort (Lieut. Parker) and Raleigh, (Lieut. Alexander,) and as soon as it was discovered up the James River that the action had commenced we were joined by the Patrick Henry, (Com. Tucker,) the Jamestown, (Lieut. Barney,) and the Teazer, (Serg. Webb.) all which were actually engaged, and rendered very effective service. Enclosed I send the surgeon's report of casualties. I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

Catesby ap R. Jones. Executive and Ordnance Officer. Flag-Officer F. Forest.

The official report of the naval battle in Hampton Roads was read. The accompanying letter of the Secretary of the Navy states that Flag-Officer F. Buchanan was disabled near the close of the engagement by a painful wound, though not very dangerous. The report was made by the executive officer, upon whom thee command devolved, Lieut. Jones. The confederate vessels engaged were the steam-sloop Virginia, of ten guns; the Patrick Henry, Com. Tucker, of six guns; the Jamestown, Lieut.-Com. Barney, of two guns; the Raleigh, Lieut. Commanding Alexander; the Beaufort, Lieut. Commanding Parker; the Teazer, Lieut. Commanding Webb, each of one gun. With this force (twenty guns) Flag-Officer Buchanan engaged the enemy's fleet, consisting of the frigate Cumberland, of twenty-four guns; the Congress, of fifty guns; the St. Lawrence, of fifty guns; the steam-frigate Minnesota, of forty guns; the enemy's batteries at Newport News and several small steamers, armed with heavy rifled guns.

The engagement commenced at half-past 3 P. M., and at four P. M. Capt. Buchanan had sunk the Cumberland, captured and burned the Congress, disabled and driven the Minnesota ashore, and defeated the St. Lawrence and Roanoke, which sought shelter under the guns of Fortress Monroe. Two of the enemy's small steamers [272] were blown up, and the two transport-steamers were captured.

The Cumberland went down with all on board, her tops only remaining above water, but many of her people were saved by boats from the shore.

The flag of the Congress and the sword of the officer commanding at the time of her surrender are at the Navy Department.

The report concludes as follows:

To the dashing courage, the patriotism, and eminent ability of Flag-Officer Buchanan, and to the officers and men of his squadron, our country is indebted for this brilliant achievement, which will hold a conspicuous place among the heroic contests of naval history.

S. R. Mallory. Secretary of the Navy.

Letters and Narratives: statement of the pilot of the Cumberland.

Mr. A. B. Smith, pilot on board the United States frigate Cumberland, at the time of her battle with the iron-plated steamer Merrimac, gives the following authentic statement of the great naval battle in Hampton Roads:

On Saturday morning, the United States frigate Cumberland laid off in the roads at Newport News, about three hundred yards from the shore, the Congress being two hundred yards south of us. The morning was mild and pleasant, and the day opened without any noteworthy incident. About eleven o'clock, a dark-looking object was discovered coming round Craney Island through Norfolk Channel, and proceeding straight in our direction. It was instantly recognised as the Merrimac. We had been on the lookout for her for some time, and were as well prepared then as we could have been at any other time, or as we have been during the last six months. As she came ploughing through the water right onward toward our port-bow, she looked like a huge half-submerged crocodile. Her sides seemed of solid iron, except where the guns pointed from the narrow potts, and rose slantingly from the water like the roof of a house, or the arched back of a tortoise. Probably the extreme height of the apex from the water's edge, perpendicularly, was ten feet. At her prow I could see the iron ram projecting, straight forward, somewhat above the water's edge, and apparently a mass of iron. Small boats were slung or fastened to her sides, and the rebel flag floated from one staff, while a pennant was fixed to another at the stern. There was a smoke-stack or pipe near her middle, and she was probably a propeller, no side-wheels or machinery being visible. She is probably covered with railroad-iron. Immediately on the appearing of the Merrimac, the command was given to make ready for instant action. All hands were ordered to their places, and the Cumberland was sprung across the channel, so that her broadside would bear on the Merrimac. The armament we could bring to bear on the Merrimac was about eleven nine and ten-inch Dahlgren guns, and two pivot-guns of the same make. The gunners were at their posts, and we waited eagerly for her approach within range. She came up at the rate of four or five knots per hour. When the Merrimac arrived within about a mile, we opened on her with our pivot-guns, and as soon as we could bear upon her, our whole broadside commenced. Still she came on, the balls bouncing upon her mailed sides like India-rubber, apparently making not the least impression, except to cut off her flag-staff, and thus bring down the confederate colors. None of her crew ventured at that time on her outside to replace them, and she fought thenceforward with only her pennant flying. She appeared to obey her helm, and be very readily handled, making all her movements and evolutions with apparent facility and readiness. We had probably fired six or eight broadsides when a shot was received from one of her guns which killed five of our marines. It was impossible for our vessel to get out of her way, and the Merrimac soon crushed her iron horn or ram into the Cumberland, just starboard the main chains, under the bluff of the port-bow, knocking a hole in the side, near the water-line, as large as the head of a hogshead, and driving the vessel back upon her anchors with great force. The water came rushing into the hold. The Merrimac then backed out and discharged her guns at us, the shot passing through the main bay and killing five sick men. The water was all the while rushing in the hole made by the ram, so that in five minutes it was up to the sick-bay on the berth-deck. In the mean time her broadsides swept our men away, killed and maimed, and also set our vessel on fire in the forward part. The fire was extinguished. I cannot tell how many were wounded. The sick-bay, berth-deck and gun-deck, were almost literally covered with men killed and wounded, but the surviving ones still fought well, and every one, officers and men, displayed the utmost heroism. The fight lasted about three fourths of an hour, the Cumberland firing rapidly, and all the time the water pouring in the hold, and by and by the ports as her bow kept sinking deeper and deeper. Near the middle of the fight, when the berth-deck of the Cumberland had sunk below water, one of the crew of the Merrimac came out of a port to the outside of her iron-plated roof, and a ball from one of our guns instantly cut him in two. That was the last and only rebel that ventured within sight, the rest remaining in their safe, iron-walled enclosure. We fired constantly, and the Merrimac occasionally, but every shot told upon our wooden vessel and brave crew. Her guns being without the least elevation, pointed straight at us along the surface of the water, and her nearness, she being much of the time within three hundred yards, made it an easy matter to send each ball to its exact mark. Probably her guns would be useless at a considerable distance, as it appears impossible to elevate them. Finally, after about three fourths of an hour of the most severe fighting, our vessel sank, the Stars and Stripes still waving. That flag was finally submerged, but after the hull grounded on the sands, fifty-four feet below the surface of the water, our pennant was still flying [273] from the topmast above the waves. None of our men were captured, but many were drowned as the vessel went. We had about four hundred on board, and I suppose from one hundred and fifty to two hundred were killed during the engagement and drowned at the sinking. Lieut. George M. Morris was in command of the vessel, Capt. Radford being absent on the Roanoke at a court of inquiry. Very few of our men swam ashore, most of those who were rescued from the water being saved by small boats. The Merrimac seemed to be uninjured, although her small boats and flagstaff were shot away in the commencement of the action.

The Merrimac then turned to the Congress, which lay probably two hundred yards to the south of where the Cumberland was. The Merrimac came up under her stern, and her crew fired their pistols into the ports of the Congress as she approached. I saw her fire on the Congress. The sailors of that vessel say that the Merrimac struck her; but of this I am not sure. The Congress had a good crew of fifty men from the Cumberland, previously taken on board; fifty from the Minnesota, fifty of the Naval Brigade, fifty from the Roanoke, and some others. Lieut. Joseph Smith, who was in command, was killed by a shot. A great many of the Naval Brigade were also killed. The entire command seemed to have acted bravely during the engagement, which probably lasted not over a half an hour, when the white flag was run up. During that night, some sailors and men of the Congress re turned and set fire to her, and she blew up about twelve o'clock. Neither the shot of the Cumberland nor Congress appeared to have any effect on the Merrimac, bounding off harmlessly, with a loud ringing sound from the iron plates.

The engagement with the Minnesota resulted in the killing of four men on the latter vessel, which was aground. The Merrimac did not seem to like to go near her, perhaps on account of her large armament of heavy guns, but more probably because she was afraid also of getting aground, the water being quite shallow in that neighborhood. The Minnesota is not much injured. She was off, and steaming down about six o'clock Sunday night.

The Monitor came in Saturday night and proceeded up past the Minnesota. The rebel steamers Jamestown and Yorktown were not iron-plated, or at any rate, only partially so. They came down in the daylight, making for the Minnesota, but to their surprise found the Monitor ready to receive them. On Sunday morning the Monitor moved close up to the Merrimac, and, side by side, engaged her for four hours and twenty minutes. Once the Merrimac dashed her iron prow squarely against the Monitor, but did not injure that vessel in the least. The Monitor in turn determined to try her force in a similar operation, but in some unaccountable manner the wheel or other steering apparatus became entangled, it is said, and the Monitor rushed by, just missing her aim. Capt. Worden is confident that he put three shot through the hull of his antagonist — probably through the ports. The Monitor fired one hundred and seventy-eight pound cast-iron shot. The wrought-iron shot were not used, because their great weight and peculiar construction renders the guns much more liable to burst. The Merrimac fired about forty shots on the Monitor, which replied rapidly as possible, but, so far as it is known, neither vessel is damaged. Those on board the Monitor say the balls rattled and rang upon both vessels, and seemed to bound off harmless. The Merrimac is probably not injured, at least more than the starting of a plate or so of her iron covering, and her machinery being uninjured, she is probably fit to come out again. It is impossible to keep the Merrimac from coming out. She can sail three knots an hour faster than the Monitor. From her evolutions, I should judge she can go at the rate of eight or nine knots per hour. It is impossible to board the Merrimac. Should she come out again, she will be obliged to pass within range of the Union gun at the Rip Raps, and a shot from it might perhaps crush her sides, but it is very difficult to manage so heavy a piece of artillery, and the Union gun, in all probability, might be fired fifty times without touching her. I do not think the Merrimac is calculated to carry much coal, and that might have been a reason for her retiring from the contest. The Monitor perhaps might follow up the rebel steamers and disable them, but if she gets among the rebel batteries a heavy fire might be concentrated on her from different points, and she be thus injured, or possibly she might be grappled to and towed ashore. These and other reasons may suffice to show why the Monitor did not follow among the batteries of Craney Island and Norfolk. Gen. Wool, I understand, has ordered all the women and children away from Fortress Monroe, in anticipation of the Merrimac's reappearance.

During all Sunday morning, while the battle was raging between the two iron-clad vessels, the high cliffs at Newport News and vicinity were crowded with spectators, earnestly watching the progress of the fight.

Baltimore American account.

The Merrimac made her appearance, coming out from Elizabeth River about noon on Saturday. She stood directly across the roads toward Newport News. As soon as she was made out and her direction ascertained, the crews were beat to quarters on both the Cumberland and Congress, and preparations made for what was felt to be an almost hopeless fight, but the determination to make it as desperate as possible. The Merrimac kept straight on, making, according to the best estimates, about eight miles an hour. As she passed the mouth of Nansemond River, the Congress threw the first shot at her, which was immediately answered. The Merrimac passed the Congress, discharging a broadside at her, (one shell from which killed and disabled every man except one at gun No. Ten,) and kept on toward the Cumberland, which she approached at full speed, striking her on the port side near the bow, [274] her stem knocking port No. One and the bridleport into one, whilst her ram cut the Cumberland under water. Almost at the moment of collision, the Merrimac discharged from her forward gun an eleven-inch shell. This shell raked the whole gun-deck, killing ten men at gun No. One, among whom was master mate John Harrington, and cutting off both arms and legs of quarter-gunner Wood. The water rushed in from the hole made below, and in five minutes the ship began to sink by the head. Shell and solid shot from the Cumberland were rained on the Merrimac as she passed ahead, but the most glanced harmlessly from the incline of her iron-plated bomb-roof.

As the Merrimac rounded to and came up she again raked the Cumberland with heavy fire. At this fire sixteen men at gun No. Ten were killed or wounded, and were all subsequently carried down in the sinking ship.

Advancing with increased momentum, the Merrimac struck the Cumberland on the starboard side, smashing her upper works and cutting another hole below the water-line.

The ship now began to rapidly settle, and the scene became most horrible. The cockpit was filled with the wounded, whom it was impossible to bring up. The former magazine was under water, but powder was still supplied from the after-magazine, and the firing kept steadily up by men who knew that the ship was sinking under them. They worked desperately and unremittingly, and amid the din and horror of the conflict gave cheers for their flag and the Union, which were joined in by the wounded. The decks were slippery with blood, and arms and legs and chunks of flesh were strewed about. The Merrimac laid off at easy point-blank range, discharging her broadsides alternately at the Cumberland and the Congress. The water by this time had reached the after-magazine of the Cumberland. The men, however, kept at work, and several cases of powder were passed up and the guns kept in play. Several men in the after shell-room lingered there too long in their eagerness to pass up shell, and were drowned.

The water had at this time reached the berth or main gun-deck, and it was felt hopeless and useless to continue the fight longer. The word was given for each man to save himself, but after this order gun No. Seven was fired, when the adjoining gun, No. Six, was actually under water. This last shot was fired by an active little follow named Matthew Tenney, whose courage had been conspicuous throughout the action. As his port was left open by the recoil of the gun, he jumped to scramble out, but the water rushed in with so much force that he was washed back and drowned. When the order was given to cease firing, and to look out for their safety in the best way possible, numbers scampered through the port-holes, whilst others reached the spar-deck by the companion-ways. Some were incapable to get out by either of these means, and were carried by the rapidly sinking ship. Of those who reached the upper deck, some swam off to the tugs that came out from Newport News.

The Cumberland sank in water nearly to her cross-trees. She went down with her flag still flying, and it still flies from the mast above the water that overwhelmed her, a memento of the bravest, most daring, and yet most hopeless defence that has ever been made by any vessel belonging to any navy in the world. The men fought with a courage that could not be excelled. There was no flinching, no thought of surrender.

The whole number lost of the Cumberland's crew was one hundred and twenty.

The Cumberland being thoroughly demolished, the Merrimac left her — not, to the credit of the rebels it ought to be stated, firing either at the men clinging to the rigging, or at the small boats on the propeller Whildin, which were busily employed rescuing the survivors of her crew — and proceeded to attack the Congress. The officers of the Congress, seeing the fate of the Cumberland, and aware that she also would be sunk if she remained within reach of the iron beak of the Merrimac, had got all sail on the ship, with the intention of running her ashore. The tug-boat Zouave also came out and made fast to the Cumberland, and assisted in towing her ashore.

The Merrimac then surged up, gave the Congress a broadside, receiving one in return, and getting astern, raked the ship fore and aft. This fire was terribly destructive, a shell killing every man at one of the guns except one. Coming again broadside to the Congress, the Merrimac ranged slowly backward and forward, at less than one hundred yards distant, and fired broadside after broadside into the Congress. The latter vessel replied manfully and obstinately, every gun that could be brought to bear being discharged rapidly, but with little effect upon the iron monster. Some of the balls caused splinters of iron to fly from her mailed roof, and one shot, entering a port-hole, is supposed to have dismounted a gun, as there was no further firing from that port. The guns of the Merrimac appeared to be specially trained on the after-magazine of the Congress, and shot after shot entered that part of the ship.

Thus slowly drifting down with the current and again steaming up, the Merrimac continued for an hour to fire into her opponent. Several times the Congress was on fire, but the flames were kept down. Finally the ship was on fire in so many places, and the flames gathering such force, that it was hopeless and suicidal to keep up the defence any longer. The National flag was sorrowfully hauled down and a white flag hoisted at the peak.

After it was hoisted the Merrimac continued to fire, perhaps not discovering the white flag, but soon after ceased firing.

A small rebel tug that had followed the Merrimac out of Norfolk then came alongside the Congress, and a young officer gained the gun-deck through a port-hole, announced that he came on board to take command, and ordered the officers on board the tug.

The officers of the Congress refused to go on board, hoping from the nearness to the shore that they would be able to reach it, and unwilling to [275] become prisoners whilst the least chance of escape remained. Some of the men, supposed to number about forty, thinking the tug was one of our vessels, rushed on board. At this moment the members of an Indiana regiment at Newport News, brought a Parrott gun down to the beach and opened fire upon the rebel tug. The tug hastily put off, and the Merrimac again opened fire upon the Congress. The fire not being returned from the ship, the Merrimac commenced shelling the woods and camps at Newport News, fortunately, however, without doing much damage, only one or two casualties occurring.

By the time all were ashore, it was seven o'clock in the evening, and the Congress was in a bright sheet of flame fore and aft. She continued to burn until twelve o'clock at night, her guns, which were loaded and trained, going off as they became heated. A shell from one struck a sloop at Newport News and blew her up. At twelve o'clock the fire reached her magazines, and with a tremendous concussion her charred remains blew up. There were some five tons of gunpowder in her magazines, and about twenty thousand dollars in paymaster Buchanan's safe.

The loss of life on board the Congress is not over one hundred and twenty, and possibly may not exceed a hundred. The crew consisted of two hundred and seventy-seven blue jackets, eighty-eight of the coast-guards, forty-seven marines, and twenty-two officers — in all, a total of four hundred and thirty-four. At the muster at Newport News, one hundred and ninety-six blue jackets and coast-guards and twenty-two marines appeared; about forty went on board the rebel tugs and are prisoners, and about forty, it is estimated, left before the muster, and made their way to Fortress Monroe. About one hundred are thus unaccounted for, and are undoubtedly killed.

After sinking the Cumberland and firing the Congress, the Merrimac, with the Yorktown and Jamestown, stood off in the direction of the steamfrigate Minnesota, which had been for some hours aground, about three miles below Newport News. This was about five o'clock on Saturday evening. The rebel commander of the Merrimac, either fearing the greater strength of the Minnesota, or wishing, as it afterward appeared, to capture this splendid ship without doing serious damage to her, did not attempt to run the Minnesota down, as he had run down the Cumberland. He stood off about a mile distant, and with the Yorktown and Jamestown threw shell and shot at the frigate. The Minnesota, though from being aground unable to manoeuvre or bring all her guns to bear, was fought splendidly. She threw a shell at the Yorktown which set her on fire, and she was towed off by her consort the Jamestown. From the reappearance of the Yorktown next day, the fire must have been suppressed without serious damage. The after-cabins of the Minnesota were torn away in order to bring two of her large guns to bear from her stern-ports, the position in which she was lying enabling the rebels to attack her there with impunity. She received two serious shots: one, an eleven-inch shell, entered near the waist, passed through the chief engineer's room, knocking both rooms into ruins, and wounding several men. Another shot went clear through the chain-plate, and another passed through the main-mast. Six of the crew were killed outright, on board the Minnesota, and. nineteen wounded. The men, though fighting at great disadvantage, stuck manfully to their guns, and exhibited a spirit that would have enabled them to compete successfully with any ordinary vessel.

About nightfall, the Merrimac, satisfied with her afternoon's work of death and destruction, steamed in under Sewall's Point. The day thus closed most dismally for our side, and with the most gloomy apprehensions of what would occur the next day. The Minnesota was at the mercy of the Merrimac, and there appeared no reason why the iron monster might not clear the Roads of our fleet, destroy all the stores and warehouses on the beach, drive our troops into the Fortress, and command Hampton Roads against any number of wooden vessels the Government might send there. Saturday was a terribly dismal night at Fortress Monroe.

About nine o'clock, Ericsson's battery, the Monitor, arrived at the Roads, and upon her performance was felt that the safety of their position in a great measure depended. Never was a greater hope placed upon apparently more insignificant means, but never was a great hope more triumphantly fulfilled. The Monitor is the reverse of formidable; lying low on the water, with a plain structure amidship, a small pilot-house forward, a diminutive smoke-pipe aft, at a mile's distance she might be taken for a raft, with an army ambulance amidship. It is only when on board that her compact strength and formidable means of offensive warfare are discoverable.

When Lieut. Worden was informed of what had occurred, though his crew were suffering from exposure and loss of rest from a stormy voyage around from New-York, he at once made preparations for taking part in whatever might occur next day.

Before daylight on Sunday morning, the Monitor moved up, and took a position alongside the Minnesota, lying between the latter ship and the Fortress, where she could not be seen by the rebels, but was ready, with steam up, to slip out.

Up to now, on Sunday, the rebels gave no indication of what were their further designs. The Merrimac laid up toward Craney Island, in view, but motionless. At one o'clock she was observed in motion, and came out, followed by the Yorktown and Jamestown, both crowded with troops. The object of the leniency toward the Minnesota on the previous evening thus became evident. It was the hope of the rebels to bring the ships aboard the Minnesota, overpower her crew by the force of numbers, and capture both vessels and men.

As the rebel flotilla came out from Sewall's Point, the Monitor stood out boldly toward them. It is doubtful if the rebels knew what to make of the strange-looking battery, or if they despised it. Even the Yorktown kept on approaching, [276] until a thirteen shell from the Monitor sent her to the right about. The Merrimac and the Monitor kept on approaching each other, the former waiting until she would choose her distance, and the latter apparently not knowing what to make of her funny-looking antagonist. The first shot from the Monitor was fired when about one hundred yards distant from the Merrimac, and this distance was subsequently reduced to fifty yards, and at no time during the furious cannonading that ensued, were the vessels more than two hundred yards apart.

It is impossible to reproduce the animated descriptions given of this grand contest between two vessels of such formidable offensive and defensive powers. The scene was in plain view from Fortress Monroe, and in the main facts all the spectators agree. At first the fight was very furious, and the guns of the Monitor were fired rapidly. As she carries but two guns, whilst the Merrimac has eight, of course she received two or three shots for every one she gave. Finding that her antagonist was much more formidable than she looked, the Merrimac attempted to run her down. The superior speed and quicker turning qualities of the Monitor enabled her to avoid these shocks, and to give the Merrimac, as she passed, a shot. Once the Merrimac struck her near midships, but only to prove that the battery could not be run down nor shot down. She spun round like a top, and as she got her bearing again, sent one of her formidable missiles into her huge opponent.

The officers of the Monitor, at this time, had gained such confidence in the impregnability of their battery, that they no longer fired at random nor hastily. The fight then assumed its most interesting aspects. The Monitor ran round the Merrimac repeatedly, probing her sides, seeking for weak points, and reserving her fire with coolness, until she had the right spot and the exact range, and made her experiments accordingly. In this way the Merrimac received three shots, which must have seriously damaged her. Neither of these shots rebounded at all, but appeared to cut their way clear through iron and wood into the ship. Soon after receiving the third shot, the Merrimac turned toward Sewell's Point, and made off at full speed.

The Monitor followed the Merrimac until she got well inside Sewall's Point, and then returned to the Minnesota. It is probable that the pursuit would have been continued still further, but Lieut. Worden, her commander, had previously had his eyes injured, and it was also felt that, as so much depended on the Monitor, it was imprudent to expose her unnecessarily. Lieut. Worden, at the time he was injured, was looking out of the eye-holes of the pilot-house, which are simply horizontal slits, about half an inch wide. A round shot from the Merrimac struck against these slits as Lieut. Worden was looking through, causing some scalings from the iron, and fragments of the paint to fly with great force against his eyes. The injury was necessarily very painful, and it was once feared that he would lose one of his eyes. Before, however, he left Old Point, it was thought this danger had been removed.

Secession Narratives. Norfolk day-book account.

At a quarter past eleven o'clock on Saturday, March eighth, the iron-clad steamer Virginia cast loose from her moorings at the navy-yard, and made her way down to Hampton Roads, toward the blockading fleet lying off Newport News. She reached their neighborhood, after some detention at the obstructions below, at two o'clock. Here she found the two first-class sailing frigates Cumberland and Congress. With a determination to pay her respects to the Cumberland first, the Virginia bore down for that vessel, and while passing the Congress she gave her a broadside by way of a salute. Her operations on the Cumberland were performed in the short space of fifteen minutes time, at the end of which the Cumberland sunk just where she had been lying.

The Virginia, on approaching her and getting within point-blank range, fired her bow — gun several times, and ran into her, striking her fairly with her ram, which made her reel to and fro, and sent her speedily to the bottom; but while going down, we understand, the after-gun of the Cumberland was discharged at the Virginia, with what injury we know not.

The object in first getting rid of the Cumberland was probably to destroy the very heavy armament which the frigate carried, it being the heaviest in the Yankee navy. The officers and crew of the Cumberland made their escape as best they could, many of them being captured by our gunboats. The wounded on board it is believed went down with the vessel.

The Virginia next turned her attention to the Congress, which vessel, it is said, gallantly resisted her inevitable fate for nearly an hour, but finally, finding the ship rapidly sinking, she hauled down her colors and made for the beach, where she was run as high aground as possible. Her officers and crew were taken off by our gunboats, and while she had her flag of truce hoisted and was being relieved of her killed and wounded by our boats, the Yankees on shore at Newport News, disregarding the flag of truce, with Minie muskets fired into her and killed several of their own men and slightly wounded in the arm Mr. John Hopkins, one of our pilots, attached to the Beaufort.

While the Virginia was engaged with the Congress with her bow-gun, she poured broadside after broadside into the shore-batteries of the enemy at Newport News. One discharge from the bow-gun of the Virginia, says one of the prisoners, capsized two of the guns of the Congress, killing sixteen of her crew and taking off the head of a Lieut. Smith, and literally tore the ship to pieces.

The enemy seemed entirely unaware of our intention to attack them, and, it is said, were so completely lulled into security that the Virginia [277] had got down to Sewall's Point before they took the alarm.

While the engagement was going on between the two frigates and the Virginia, the enemy's steam-frigate Minnesota put out from Old Point to their assistance. She laid well over toward Newport News, but not entirely out of the range of our batteries on Sewall's Point, which opened on her, with what effect we are unable to say, but she replied to them without any damage whatever. The Minnesota got aground when within a mile or two of Newport News Point. There she stuck, unable to get off, while the confederate steamers Patrick Henry and Jamestown peppered her with their batteries, while the Virginia was attending to the shore-batteries at Newport News.

The frigate St. Lawrence then came up to the assistance of the Minnesota, and she also got aground, and a steam-frigate, supposed to be the Roanoke, put off from Old Point with the same intention, it is supposed, but seeing the sad havoc which the Virginia was playing with the Federal vessels, she put back to Old Point.

The Minnesota and St. Lawrence, we learn, are hard aground and in the power of the Virginia, at high tide, as the latter vessel was at Sewall's Point, after the engagement, where she remained on Saturday night, ready to commence on them on Sunday morning. She is between them and all assistance from Old Point.

The frigate Congress was set fire to on Saturday night, by a boat's crew from some of our vessels. She illumined the whole Roads and river, and about midnight her magazine exploded with a tremendous noise. Her conflagration afforded a rare sight to many thousands of spectators who lined the shores of our harbor to witness the spectacle of a ship on fire. Many articles of value, we learn, were removed from her by our gunboats before being fired.

Tugs and steamers were sent to the assistance of the Minnesota and St. Lawrence from Old Point, after they grounded, but their efforts to haul them off were unavailing.

The first gun fired in the engagement is said to have been fired by the confederate gunboat Beaufort at the frigate Congress. All of our steamers and gunboats are said to have been managed with the utmost skill and dexterity, tendering great assistance to the Virginia in this magnificent and successful engagement.

We are without means of getting at the loss of the enemy in killed and wounded, though it is believed to have been very great. Our total loss, in killed and wounded, as far as we can learn, is nine killed and twelve wounded, most of them slightly.

Twenty-three prisoners were brought up to this city on Saturday night. These were all taken off the frigate Congress by the gunboat Beaufort, while our other gunboats took off others. One of these prisoners died while on his way to the city. He and another one wounded were shot by their own forces while being saved from the sinking frigate Congress. The wounded prisoners were carried to the hospital.

The Virginia had two men killed and some five or six wounded. A shot entered the port-hole and struck the gun in the muzzle, knocking off a piece nine inches long. This disabled the gun, which was immediately replaced by another of the same calibre.

Capt. Buchanan and Lieut. Minor, of the Virginia, are said to be wounded, the former slightly, the latter severely.

On board the Patrick Henry a shot entered one of her ports, we understand, and passed through one of her boilers, disabling it. She was compelled to haul off temporarily for repairs. There were four men killed and three wounded on board of her. Other damage not material

On board the gunboat Raleigh, Midshipman Hutter was killed, we understand, though we did not learn of any other casualties.

The James River steamers arrived at the scene of action, it is said, about one hour after the engagement commenced. They easily passed the Newport News battery, and, after joining in the fight, rendered very efficient aid.

By this daring exploit we have raised the James River blockade, without foreign assistance, and are likely, with the assistance of the Virginia, to keep open the communication.

Several small prizes were said to have been taken by our gunboats from the Yankees, one of which, the schooner Reindeer, was brought up to the Navy-Yard on Saturday night. Two others were said to have been carried over to Pig Point on Saturday.

Another report we hear says that but two persons were killed on board the Virginia.

Andrew J. Dalton, a printer, who left our office a few days since to join the Virginia, and who was at the bombardment of Sumter, and participated in several other engagements during the war, we learn, was one of the wounded on board that vessel on Saturday.

The engagement was renewed again on Sunday morning, about half-past 8 o'clock, by the Jamestown and several of our gunboats firing into the Minnesota and St. Lawrence. At high-water we expect the Virginia will pay her respects to these vessels.

Since the above was written we have been enabled to gather some additional particulars.

Some detention occurred on board the Virginia on Sunday morning, we learn, or she would have commenced the engagement much earlier than half-past 8 o'clock, at which time she, together with the Patrick Henry, Jamestown, and our other gunboats, opened fire on the Minnesota, which still lies hard and fast aground. The tide being at the ebb, the Virginia did not take the channel where the Minnesota lay, probably for fear of grounding, but getting within a good range of her, she opened fire with terrible effect, completely riddling her, and rendering constant exertion at the pump necessary to prevent her from filling. [278]

Early in the morning, the Ericsson battery, now called the Monitor, was discovered off Newport News Point, she having gone up there during the night. A sharp encounter soon took place between her and the Virginia, during which time they were frequently not more than thirty or forty yards apart. Unfortunately, the Virginia ran aground, and the Ericsson, using her advantage, poured shot after shot into her, but without doing any serious damage. In a short while, however, the Virginia succeeded in getting off, and, putting on a full head of steam, ran her bow into the Ericsson, doing, as it is thought, great damage.

We are rejoiced to say that, notwithstanding the firing was much heavier than on Saturday, there were no casualties on either of our vessels, not a man being in the least injured by shots from the enemy or otherwise.

Several of the enemy's gunboats being within range, they were favored with a shell or two from the Virginia, with telling effect, and, in every case, disabling or sinking them. One of these, lying alongside the Minnesota, had a shell thrown on board of her, which, on bursting, tore her asunder and sent her to the bottom.

Having completely riddled the Minnesota and disabled the St. Lawrence and Monitor, besides, as stated above, destroying several of the enemy's gunboats — in a word, having accomplished all that they designed, and having no more material to work upon, our noble vessels left the scene of their triumphs and returned to the yard, where they await another opportunity of displaying their prowess.

The enemy's loss, killed and wounded, during the two days battle, is exceedingly large, and estimated at from six to twelve hundred. The scene around the Congress is represented as heart-sickening. The officers of the Beaufort, who ran alongside of her on Saturday night, and who boarded her for the purpose of removing the wounded aboard of her, and who were brutally fired upon by the enemy while engaged in this work of mercy to their own kith and kin, represented the deck of the vessel as being literally covered with the dead and dying. One of them assured us that as he went from fore to aft his shoes were well-nigh buried in blood and brains. Arms, legs, and heads were found scattered in every direction, while here and there, in the agonies of death, would be found poor deluded wretches, with their breasts torn completely out.

Of the crew of the Cumberland but few survived to tell the tale. As she went down her crew went with her, except some few who were taken as prisoners by us, and a few others who escaped to the shore. Out of the five hundred aboard of her, it is estimated that not over a hundred at most escaped, the remainder either being killed by our shot or drowned as the vessel went down.

Of course, the greater part of those on board the gunboats were also drowned, as there was not sufficient time for them to have made their escape. Added to this, very many in the camps of the enemy at Newport News were killed by the shells which the Virginia threw among them.

On our side, the loss was indeed small, and when we consider the storm of shell to which at times they were subjected, we can but wonder, while we rejoice, that so few of them suffered injury.

On the Virginia, there were two killed and eight wounded. Among the wounded we regret to mention Captain Buchanan and Lieut. Minor. Their wounds, however, we are happy to state, are but slight.

On the Raleigh, Midshipman Hutter was killed, and Capts. Tayloe and Alexander wounded, the first mentioned quite severely.

On the Beaufort, Gunner W. Robinson and two seamen were wounded. This was all the damage sustained by the vessel among her men. Two Yankee prisoners aboard of her were struck by the balls of their friends, one of them killed, and the other severely wounded. The former was standing in the door of the wardrobe at the time the Beaufort was alongside the Congress, and one of the shower of balls sent by the enemy on shore from their Minie muskets struck him on the forehead, penetrating his brain, and killing him almost instantly.

On the Teaser one man was wounded very slightly.

On the Patrick Henry four men were killed and three wounded. While the loss of the enemy is counted by hundreds, ours, as will be seen from the above, amounts to only seven killed and seventeen wounded.

The loss on our part, as small as it is, was not the work of the enemy's shots from their vessels, but the result, for the most part, of the fire of muskets from shore.

During the contest the mainmast of the Raleigh was carried away. The flagstaffs of the Virginia were also cut down.

The report that the Congress was fired by the Federals to prevent her falling into our hands is without a shadow of truth. She was fired by hot shot from the Virginia, for firing into our boats while she had a flag of truce at the time flying after she had struck her colors and surrendered to us.

Among the prisoners taken off the Congress was the slave Sam, the property of----Drummond, Esq., of this city, who escaped to the enemy some time in October last. He is now safe, having reached his home sooner and under different circumstances than he anticipated.

On the arrival of the Virginia at the yard, her men were mustered and addressed by the commanding officer in terms of praise for their noble bearing during the engagement. They responded with hearty cheers, and expressed a desire to again reenact the scenes through which they had just passed whenever opportunity presented.

The injury sustained by the Patrick Henry was not as great as at first supposed, being so trifling that a few hours' repairs were sufficient to place her in readiness for action.

The officers of the Virginia are represented as [279] having acted with the utmost courage and bravery during the contest. It is related of Capt. Buchanan, that during the thickest of the fight he remained on the deck of the Virginia, and that he discharged musket after musket at the enemy as they were handed up to him. It was while thus exposed that he received the wound of which mention is made above.

It is said that all of the batteries on Newport News were silenced except one, and that our shot and shell were thrown with such unerring aim and precision among the enemy, that great numbers of them were killed and wounded.

Raleigh standard account.

Petersburg, Monday, March 10, 3 P. M.
To the Editor of the Standard:
The Merrimac went out from Norfolk on Saturday at two o'clock, and sunk the Federal ship Cumberland, burnt the Congress, and shelled Newport News until dark. The Minnesota came to the aid of the Cumberland and Congress, and the Merrimac got her ashore and peppered her terribly, until eleven o'clock P. M.

The fight was renewed on Sunday, the Patrick Henry and Jamestown running the blockade at the mouth of James River, and taking part with the Merrimac. The Federal frigate St. Lawrence and Ericsson iron propeller came up from Old Point and engaged the Merrimac.

A terrific battle ensued until two P. M. The Ericsson battered away at the Merrimac at only forty yards distance, for one hour, when the Ericsson made a plunge at the Merrimac's propeller and rudder. The latter evaded the blow and plunged full tilt at the Ericsson, causing the Yankee iron monster to head instantly for Old Point, with all hands at pumps, in a supposed sinking condition. The Merrimac fired rifled shots through the large steamer sent to assist the Minnesota, and blew her up.

The Merrimac then took the Patrick Henry and Jamestown in tow, and proceeded to Norfolk. The Merrimac lost her enormous iron beak in the plunge at the Ericsson, and damaged her machinery, and is leaking a little.

The battle was altogether terrific, resulting in the destruction of two first-class frigates of the enemy, the supposed loss of the Minnesota, and serious damage to the Ericsson; also the death of many Yankees, and the annihilation of three gunboats.

Our loss was four killed and ten wounded--among the latter Com. Buchanan, of the Merrimac. The Patrick Henry was shot through the boiler, and four killed, and three wounded by scalding.

The Merrimac is a perfect success. She is a terror to the Yankees, and will visit them again soon.

Who planned the Merrimac?

Confederate States Navy Department, Richmond, March 29, 1832.
Hon. Thomas S. Bocock, Speaker of the House of Representatives:
sir: In compliance with the resolution adopted by the House of Representatives, on the eighteenth inst., “That the Secretary of the Navy be requested to make a report to this House of the plan and construction of the Virginia, so far as the same can be properly communicated; of the reasons for applying the plan to the Merrimac; and, also, what persons have rendered especial aid in designing and building the ship,” I have the honor to reply, that on the tenth day of June, 1861, Lieut. John M. Brooke, confederate States navy, was directed to aid the department in designing an iron-clad war-vessel and framing the necessary specifications.

He entered upon this duty at once, and a few days thereafter submitted to the department, as the result of his investigations, rough drawings of a casemated vessel, with submerged ends, and inclined iron-plated sides. The ends of the vessel, and the eaves of the casemate, according to his plan, were to be submerged two feet; and a light bulwark, or false bow, was designed to divide the water, and prevent it from banking up on the forward part of the shield with the vessel in motion, and also to serve as a tank, to regulate the ship's draft. His design was approved by the department, and a practical mechanic was brought from Norfolk to aid in preparing the drawings and specifications.

This mechanic aided in the statement of details of timber, etc., but was unable to make the drawings; and the department then ordered Chief-Engineer Williamson and Constructor Porter, from the navy-yard at Norfolk, to Richmond, about the twenty-third of June, for consultation on the same subject generally, and to aid in the work.

Constructor Porter brought and submitted the model of a flat-bottomed, light-draft propeller case-mated battery, with inclined iron — covered sides and ends, which is deposited in the department. Mr. Porter and Lieut. Brooke have adopted for their casemate a thickness of wood and iron and an angle of inclination nearly identical. Mr. Williamson and Mr. Porter approved of the plan of having submerged ends to obtain the requisite flotation and invulnerability, and the department adopted the design, and a clean drawing was prepared by Mr. Porter of Lieutenant Brooke's plan, which that officer then filed with the department. The steam-frigate Merrimac had been burned and sunk, and her engine greatly damaged by the enemy; and the department directed Mr. Williamson, Lieut. Brooke and Mr. Porter to consider and report upon the best mode of making her useful. The result of their investigations was their recommendation of the submerged ends, and the inclined casemates for this vessel, which was adopted by the department.

The following is the report upon the Merrimac:

In obedience to your orders, we have carefully examined and considered the various plans and propositions for constructing a shot-proof steam-battery, and respectfully report that, in our opinion, the steam-frigate Merrimac, which is in such condition from the effects of fire as to be useless for any other purpose, without incurring a very heavy expense in rebuilding, etc., can be made an efficient vessel of that character, mounting [280] . . . heavy guns, and from the further consideration that we cannot procure a suitable engine and boiler for any other vessel, without building them, which would occupy too much time, it would appear that this is our only chance to get a suitable vessel in a short time. The bottom of the hull, boilers and heavy and costly parts of the engine being but little injured, reduce the cost of construction to about one third of the amount which would be required to construct such a vessel anew.

We cannot, without further examination, maker an accurate estimate of the cost of the proposed work, but think it will be about . . . . the most of which will be for labor, the materials being nearly all in the navy-yard, except the ironplating to cover the shield. The plan to be adopted in the arrangement of the shield for glancing shot, mounting guns, arranging the hull, etc., and plating, to be in accordance with the plan submitted for the approval of the department.

We are, with much respect, your obedient servants,

William P. Williamson, Chief Engineer Confederate States Navy; John M. Brooke, Lieutenant Confederate States Navy; John L. Porter, Naval Constructor.

Immediately upon the adoption of the plan, Porter was directed to proceed with the constructor's duties. Mr. Williamson was charged with the engineer's department, and to Mr. Brooke were assigned the duties of attending to and preparing the iron and forwarding it from the Tredegar Works, the experiments necessary to test the plates and to determine their thickness, and devising heavy rifled ordnance for the ship, with the details pertaining to ordnance. Mr. Porter cut the ship down, submerged her ends, performed all the duties of constructor, and originated all the interior arrangements by which space has been economized, and he has exhibited energy, ability and ingenuity. Mr. Williamson thoroughly overhauled her engines, supplied deficiencies, and repaired defects, and improved greatly the motive power of the vessel.

Mr. Brooke attended daily to the iron, constructed targets, ascertained by actual tests the resistance offered by inclined planes of iron to heavy ordnance, and determined interesting and important facts in connection therewith, and which were of great importance in the construction of the ship; devised and prepared the models and drawings of the ship's heavy ordnance, being guns of a class never before made, and of extraordinary power and strength.

It is deemed inexpedient to state the angle of inclination, the character of the plates upon the ship, the manner of preparing them, or the number, calibre, and weight of the guns; and many novel and interesting features of her construction, which were experimentally determined, are necessarily omitted.

The novel plan of submerging the ends of the ship and the eaves of the casemate, however, is the peculiar and distinctive feature of the Virginia. It was never before adopted. The resistance of iron plates to heavy ordnance, whether presented in vertical planes or at low angles of inclination, had been investigated in England before the Virginia was commenced, and Major Barnard, U. S. A., had referred to the subject in his “Sea-Coast defences.”

We were without accurate data, however, and were compelled to determine the inclination of the plates, and their thickness and form, by actual experiment.

The department has freely consulted the three excellent officers referred to throughout the labors on the Virginia, and they have all exhibited signal ability, energy, and zeal.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

S. R. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy.

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