Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 34.djvu/325

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The Virginia's Great Fight on Water. 317

squadron, composed of the ironclads Monitor and Naugatuck, gunboats Seminole and Dakotah and sloops-of-war Susquehanna and San Jacinto commenced to bombard the batteries at Sew- ell's Point, which were being dismantled.

The Virginia at that time was taking in stores at the navy- yard, but as soon as the bombardment commenced she started for the Roads to give battle to the bombarding squadron. When she reached the neighborhood of Craney island, where there is a bend in the Elizabeth River, and came into view of the six vessels named, they all immediately returned to Old Point. She then proceeded to the neighborhood of the Rip-Raps and fired a shot to windward. This was her last challenge. Its historical accuracy can be verified by referring to a telegram of Commodore Goldsborough to President Lincoln, to abstracts from the logs of the Minnesota, Dakotah, Susquehanna, Nauga- tuck, St. Lawrence and San Jacinto, and to reports of Cap- tain John P. Gillis, of the Seminole, and Lieutenant Consta- ble, of the steamer E. A. Stevens. These reports are to be found on pages 330-1-2-3-4-5. The report, however, which contains the fullest information was that furnished by Com- mander W. N. W. Howlett, V. C. of H. B. M. S. Rinaldo, dated Fortress Monroe, May 10, 1862, and forwarded to the British government by Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K. C. B., on 24th of May 1862. This is an extract from it:

"May the 8th, 1862. The same morning a Confederate tug- boat arrived at Fortress Monroe from Norfolk, having deserted. She reported that the Confederates were prepaing to evacuate Norfolk, etc."


Then follows a description of the movement of six vessels against Sewell's Point and the appearance of the Virginia in Hampton Roads, when they retired to Old Point.

As the Virginia alone came within the range of their guns and those at Fort Wool, or Rip-Raps, the Federals frigate Min- nesota, accompanied by four large steamers, which are intend- ed to act as rams, proceeded up the river (bay it should be) abreast of Old Point, and joined the rest of the squadron. With the exception of a few shots fired from the Rip-Raps at