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ARRIVAL OF THE MONITOR
her prow towards the Congress. The latter saw that the contest was hopeless, but engaged her invulnerable adversary for half an hour, when completely riddled with shot and shell, and her commanding officer killed, she struck her colors.
The Merrimac, still apparently unharmed, then turned her attention to the other vessels which had come to the rescue, and soon came up with the powerful steamship Minnesota, which unfortunately had got aground. Both vessels opened fire, but the Merrimac, whether afraid of getting aground herself, or whether her steering apparatus was damaged, did not seem inclined to come to close quarters.
At length night came on, but still the heavy guns lit us the durkness with their glare, and their deep thunder filled the hearts of those at fortress Monroe with the gloomiest forebodings. Where would this destruction end? A sense of powerlessness oppressed the bravest. Shot and shell were alike vasted on this monster, and there seemed nothing to do but stand still and let her lay waste and destroy, till exhausted with her own efforts, or nothing more being left to destroy, she would retire to her den again.
That was a gloomy Saturday night. There seemed no hope for the Minnesota. One plunge of that iron prow and she would follow the Cumberland to the bottom; and every thing that floated in the Chesapeake bearing the national colors must share a similar fate.
ARRIVAL OF THE MONITOR.
While all' were desponding and knew not which way to turn for relief, suddenly the little Monitor arrived from New York. Her voyage down had been a long one, and proved her 'unscaworthy, so much so that she came near foundering off the coast. Her appearance, when she arrived at fortress
Monroe, though hailed with delight, (as a drowning man will catch at a straw,) did not promise much in an encounter with the powerful Merrimac that had wrought such havoc the day before. A mere raft, with a revolving turret carry. ing but two guns, did not seem a very formidable antagonist. But her commander, Lieutenant Worden, had unbounded confidence in her invulnerability, and immediately resolved to go out next morning, and grapple with the victorious Merrimac. He needed more time to get his vessel in proper trim, after her trying voyage, but none could be allowed him; for the Merrimac would certainly in the morning attack the Minnesota, and when she was disposed of like the Cumberland and Congress, there was nothing to stop her in her career of devastation. Fortress Monroe itself was not safe, and if she should prove seaworthy, there was nothing to prevent her from moving down the coast, destroying and scattering our blockading squadrons, or even to hinder her from entering New York harbor, and burning the city to ashes. There seemed no end to the destruction she could accomplish, and a danger so unexpected and appalling made every heart tremble. Never before on a single new experiment, did such momentous events turn.
To add to the gloom that hung round fortress Monroe, and tlíe Union fleet in the adjacent waters, a bright light was seen during the evening in tỉe direction of Newport News, which soon rose into a tower of flame, shedding a lurid glow far and wide over the water. The ramparts were lined with spectators, wondering what this sudden illumination might portend, when there came over the deep a sound of thunder, shaking the shore, followed by sudden darkness and silence. The Congress had burned till the fire reached the powder magazine, when she blew up with a force that sent some of her fragments a dozen miles. General Mansfield, commanding at Newport News, had driven off the rebels,
MONITOR AND MERRIMA O.
who had endeavored to get possession of her the day before, by playing upon them with his batteries and sharp shooters, and determined to make sure of her not falling into the hands of the enemy, had ordered her to be set on fire.
It was soon after this sad omen the Monitor arrived. A consultation was immediately held and it was resolved to send her forthwith to the assistance of the Minnesota, still hard aground. At eleven o'clock she set out, and her arrival on the scene of action was hailed with delight by those on board the frigate, though the sailors shook their heads at the strange little craft, that looked more like a great toy than a champion fit to contend with a vessel that had proved herself more than a match for two frigates.
BATTLE BETWEEN THE MERRIMAC AND MONITOR,
Sunday morning broke bright and beautiful, and soon as daylight allowed objects to be revealed distinctly, every glass was turned towards the Minnesota. Not far from her lay the Merrimac, blowing off steam, and hovering near her, the two rebel steamers, Patrick Henry and Jamestown. The enemy too, from all their look-outs, were gazing off on the same fearful objects of interest, but not with the same feelings of doubt and anxiety. The iron monster seemed to be deliberating what to do, whether to attack the Minnesota first, or the Union fleet, anchored near the Rip Raps. His mind was, however, soon made up, and at seven o'clock he started for the Minnesota. As the vessel slowly approached the grounded frigate, the Monitor steamed out from behind, and boldly advanced to meet her antagonist. The rebel craft was nonplused at the appearance of this new adversary, so unlike any thing ever before seen on the water. She looked scarcely more formidable than a ferry boat, and as she drew Dear her antagonist, her disproportionate size gave almost a
A STRANGE NAVAL DUEL.
ludicrous aspect to her bold, audacious movements. VVhen within a mile of each other, both vessels stopped. The Merrimac first sent a shot at the Minnesota, as if she disdained to notice the queer machine that had crossed her path. She, however, changed her mind, and fired one gun at her. The latter replied, sending one of her ponderous shot full against the Merrimac, near her water line. The latter staggered under the tremendous force of the concussion, and for the first time seemed to realize what kind of an adversary she had to deal with, and gave her her undivided attention. The contest now opened fiercely, and the two vessels approached and receded alternately, all the while firing terrific broadsides, as if testing each other's impenetrability, for nearly two hours. They then closed, and muzzle to muzzle, hailed their heavy metal on each other's sides, while the smoke of the guns wrapped the combatants in a cloud, concealing them from view. The firing was rapid and fierce, and while the fearful duel lasted, the spectators that lined the ramparts of fortress Monroe were silent and anxious, almost afraid to see the cloud lift, lest it should reveal the little Monitor, á helpless wreck on the water. But when the smoke did at last clear away, there she lay alongside her antagonist, light as a duck on the water, the Stars and Stripes flying proudly from her stern. At the sight, an involuntary shout went up from thankful hearts.' She had stood her baptism of fire uninjured and undismayed. The vessels had now drifted where the Minnesota could take part in the conflict, and her heavy guns helped to swell the chorus. The Merrimac, finding she had the worst of it, determined to destroy the Minnesota before she herself was completely disabled, and turned her steel prow full on the helpless frigate. But the Monitor threw herself in the path, and poured in her broad.. sides with redoubled fury. Again and again foiled in this attempt, the Merrimac l'esolved to make one desperate effort