Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/22
16 Southern Historical Society Papers.
took active part in this day's fight, I am justified in making the statement that the Monitor retired from the field on this her second withdrawal from three quarters to an hour. I shall not pretend to say that this is absolutely accurate, for I did not take the actual time, but I do say it was sufficiently long to justify the opinion then formed that she had withdrawn from the action for the day.
There can be no question at this day on the point which of the two vessels first withdrew from the action. The official report of Captain Van Brunt, of the Minnesota, discloses the retirement of the Monitor, and Lieutenant Greene, her executive, admits that she with- drew twice from the engagement once to hoist shot into the turret, and again when Worden was wounded page 725-727, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, volume I.
Lieutenant Ap. Catesby Jones, of the Merrimac, concludes his statement of the engagement of March gth in these words :
" We for some time awaited the return of the Monitor to the Roads. The loss of our prow and anchor, consumption of coal, water, etc., had lightened us so that the lower part of the forward end of the shield was awash. After consultation, it was decided that we should proceed to the navy-yard, that the vessel might be brought down in the water and completed. The pilots said if we did not go then we could not pass the bar until noon of the next day. We, therefore, at 12 M. quit the Roads and stood for Norfolk. Had there been any sign of the Monitor's willingness to renew the contest we would have remained to fight her. We left her in the shoal water to which she had withdrawn, and which she did not leave until after we had crossed the bar on our way to Norfolk."
I have a distinct recollection that at this time, when the Merrimac had crossed the bar, and was well on her way to Norfolk, the Moni- tor, being 1 then in shoal water on Hampton bar, fired a gun, but apparently made no motion to come out into deep water.
Thus ended this famous engagement, in what may fairly be called a drawn battle. Either adversary seemed powerless to vanquish the other. Yet the Monitor in equipment, invulnerability, speed, draught of water and manageableness was far the superior of the Merrimac. She was put into the fight to vanquish the Merrimac and protect the Minnesota ; she failed in the former and succeeded in the latter pur- pose.