244 Southern Historical Society Papers.
the ship went down the ways into the water, she being- then and there christened Virginia. There were no invitations to governors and other distinguished men, no sponsor nor maid of honor, no bottle of wine, no brass band, no blowing- of steam whistles, no great crowds to witness this memorable event. The launching was accomplished quietly, only officers and men stationed at the navy- yard witnessing it. I have never read in any history or in reports of any of our officers a true account of this launching. Strange as this may seem, it is a fact that there was only one officer of the Vir- ginia's crew who was present at the time the vessel was launched and he was Captain Reuben Thorn. All of the other officers and men of the crew were aboard a school ship then lying oft the navy- yard, and they did not come on board until the ship was commis- sioned.
" I was surprised at the erroneous naming by Governor Montague at the banquet held at Hotel Chamberlain on April 18, 1903, in honor of the sponsor of the cruiser West Virginia, He referred to the fight between the Merrimac and the Monitor.
" Before I go into detail in regard to the two days' engagement, I want to speak of a rousing speech made by our commander, Frank- lin Buchanan, to his officers and men just before the fight began. In his closing remarks he said: 'The eyes of the whole world are upon you this day, and in the good old name of Virginia let every man do his duty.'
" That duty was done, and done bravely, and I believe in justice to those heroes on both sides, irrespective of prejudice or ill-feeling, they should stand in the front rank of the brave before the world as the founders of iron-clad warfare at sea.
STORY OF THE FIGHT.
" About ii o'clock Saturday the Virginia, then flagship, twelve guns, Captain Franklin Buchanan commanding, accompanied by the Raleigh and Beaufort, one gun each, left Gosport navy yard; when we were opposite Norfolk all hands were piped to dinner. After dinner all hands were called to quarters.
"Then 'All hands ready for action' was heard, Captain Buch- anan speaking from the quarter-deck. Not one of the crew up to that time knew or suspected what he would hear from the captain, although we had crossed the roads and were closing in upon the enemy. The latter began to pour shot and shell into us, but with