Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/254
248 Southern Historical Society Papers.
about fifty, and every man was drilled in his own particular part like a veteran, during all the time we spent in the dry-dock.
The plan was very simple, and seemed entirely practicable, pro- vided we should not all be blown out of the water before it could be carried into execution. Any how we were prepared to try it ; and it was this : We had four of our smaller gunboats ready to take the party, some of each division on each vessel. One division was pro- vided with grappling-irons and lines ; another with wedges and mal- lets ; another with tarpaulins, and the fourth chloroform, hand gre- nades, etc. I venture the assertion that no other expedition ever started into battle similarly armed. Well, the idea was for all four of these vessels to pounce down on the " Monitor " at the same time ; on a given signal, and from different directions, all hands were to rush on bpard, wedge the turret so as to prevent its revolving, then scale its sides, deluge the interior with chloroform by breaking the bottles on the upper deck, and then cover the turret and pilot-house with tarpaulins, and wait for the crew to surrender.
On the nth day of April, just one month after the fight in Hamp- ton Roads, we got under way and steamed down the river again "eager for the fray," and confidently expecting to carry out our plan of "boarding" before night. But the little "cheese-box" "Monitor" as the sailors called it, never gave us a chance. She had orders to stay where she was ; and that was " out of reach." So we saved our chloroform and our necks.
These two pioneers of modern naval warfare the "Virginia" and the " Monitor "never exchanged shots again, although within sight of each other for weeks. And a few months later they were both destroyed ; the former having been burned by her own crew, and the latter foundering at sea off Cape Hatteras, on her way to Charleston.
R. C. FOUTE.
Thanksgiving Service on the " Virginia," March 10, 1862.
[The following has been furnished by a participant in the impressive exercises chronicled.]
It would seem that everything had already been said that history would care to remember of this famous iron-clad monster of the ocean ; and yet the labors of the future historical compiler would be