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for the night, evidently confident that in the morning she would sweep away the rest of the fleet.
As the day closed, sadness and gloom filled the hearts of the Federal officers in the fleet and Fortress. They felt assured that the powerful enemy that had just made such murderous work had only retired for the night to recruit, and then return to complete the destruction she had commenced, having the sailing vessels at her mercy. While despondency settled on many brows, and conjectures were rife as to where the Herrimac would direct her attention the next day, a gleam of hope arose. At eight o'clock in the evening a bright, movable light was discovered seaward, coming from the direction of Cape Charles beacon. It being known that the Ericsson Battery had left New York two days previous, surmises were rife that this light might proceed from her deck. The best night telescopes were brought into requisition, and in less than half an hour after it first hove in sight, the fact was circulated that the Ericsson Battery was coming up the Roads. The news spread like wildfire, and the ramparts in the fort were soon lined with troops. At nine o'clock the Monitor anchored off Fortress Monroe.
The next day, (Sunday, the 9th,) dawned fair and calm. The sun rose with almost cloudless splendor, a soft haze alone hung upon the water, so silvery and transparent that it hardly intercepted the view.
At half-past six o'clock, A. M., this haze cleared away. Looking towards Sewall's Point there appeared the Merrimac and the rebel steamers Yorktown and Patrick Henry. They were stationary—the Merrimac to the right of the others, blowing off steam. Their appearance was the cause for a second alarm. The rebel craft seemed deliberating what to do—whether to move on and attempt the destruction of the Minnesota, which was aground, or to attack the Union fleet anchored near the Rip-Raps. The appearance of the Merrimac on this second visit caused great precipitation in the removal of the Federal transport fleet to a safe harbor a mile or two up the Chesapeake. At seven A. sr., a plan seemed to have been adopted, and the Merrimac steamed in the direction of the Minnesota, which was still aground. The Yorktown and Jamestown were crowded with troops, and steamed slowly after the Merrimac. The plan of the latter seemed to be to destroy the Minnesota, and then proceed to shell out the Union camp at Newport News, land and take possession of the camp with their own troops. *
The Merrimac steamed along with boldness until she was within three miles of the Minnesota, when the Monitor emerged from behind the latter, and proceeded towards the Merrimac. At first the rebel craft seemed nonplussed, and hesitated, no doubt, in astonishment at the strange-looking vessel approaching her. The Merrimac then closed the distance between her and the Monitor until they were within a mile of each other. Both batteries stopped. The Merrimac fired a shot at the Minnesota, to which no reply was made. The rebel craft then fired at the Monitor; the latter replied, hitting the Merrimac near the water line. The Merrimac then commenced firing very rapidly, first from her stern gun at the Monitor, and then her broadside guns, occasionally firing a shot at the Minnesota. The fight went on in this way for an hour or two, both vessels exchanging shots pretty freely. Sometimes the Merrimac would retire, followed by the Monitor, and vice versa.
While the fight between the batteries was going on, one hundred solid nine-inch shot were sent up from Fortress Monroe on the steamer Rancocas to the Minnesota. At a quarter past ten o'clock the Merrimac and Monitor had come into pretty close quarters, the former giving the latter two broadsides in succession. They were promptly replied to by the Monitor. The firing was so rapid that both craft were obscured in columns of white smoke. The ramparts of the fort, the rigging of the vessels in port, the houses and the bend were all crowded with sailors, soldiers and civilians. When the rapid firing alluded to took place, these spectators were singularly silent, anxious and doubtful of the result. Their impatience was soon removed by the full figure of the Monitor, with the stars and stripes flying at her stern, steaming around the Merrimac, moving with the ease of a duck on the water. The distance between the vessels was forty feet. In this circuit the Monitor's guns were not idle, as she fired shot after shot at her formidable antagonist.
At eleven A. M., the Minnesota opened fire, and assisted the Monitor in engaging the Merrimac. She fired nine-inch solid shot with good accuracy, but with apparently little effect. The Merrimac returned the fire with shell, one of which struck and exploded the boiler of the gunboat Dragon, which was alongside the Minnesota, endeavoring to get her off. For the next hour the battle raged fiercely between the Merrimac on the rebel side and the Union vessels, the Monitor, Minnesota and Whitehall, but with no particular result. The Minnesota presenting the best mark, the Merrimac fired at her frequently, alternately giving the Monitor a powerful shot. The Merrimac made several attempts to run at full speed past the Monitor to attack and run down the Minnesota. All these attempts were parried, as it were, by the Monitor. In one of these desperate efforts the Merrimac ran her plow or ram'with terrible force against the side of the Monitor; but it only had the effect of careening the latter vessel in the slightest degree.
The rebel boats Yorktown and Patrick Henry kept at a safe distance from the Monitor. The former vessel, at the beginning of the fight, had the temerity to come within range of the Monitor. The latter fired one shot at her which entered her pilot-house, carrying it away, when she retired out of range.
The fire raged hotly on both sides, the opposing batteries moving around each other with the skill, ease and dexterity of knights in a tournament. The Merrimac, though the strongest, did not move with the freedom of her antagonist; hence the Monitor had the advantage, taking choice of position. At a quarter before twelve o'clock, the Merrimac was in full retreat, heading for Sewall's Point, and chased for a few minutes by the Monitor. The Merrimac had evidently suffered to some extent, and it was thought at one time that she was sinking. After she got safely under the guns of the rebel battery at Sewall's Point, she stopped and signalled for help from her consorts, who were beating a retreat. Subsequently two tug-boats or gunboats went alongside, took her in tow, and proceeded to Norfolk. This ended the combat. Toward the close of the engagement, Lieutenant Worden was standing in the pilot-house, when a percussion shell struck the turret, and exploded. The openings for sighting outside objects, through one of which Lieutenant Worden was looking, allowed the fine dust and splinters to enter, injuring his eyes. Almost immediately afterward the same thing occurred, and this second injury rendered him completely blind, and he was compelled to retire below. It was feared that he was permanently injured in this gallant encounter, but after careful treatment his sight was restored, and he was again ready for duty. This remarkable encounter between two iron-clad vessels was regarded with the greatest interest throughout Europe, where its importance to the questions of naval architecture and warfare was fully appreciated and understood. It had not only a direct bearing upon the construction and working of floating batteries, but it demonstrated that a new engine of war had been introduced that might render valueless for effective defence all the land batteries against which these iron antagonists might be brought to bear. The destruction of the Cumberland and Congress on the first day of the engagement, and the triumphant condition in which the Merrimac had retired from the heavy broadsides of the Federal frigates, which would almost have destroyed an ordinary vessel, created intense excitement in all the seaport cities of the North. The loud boasts of the rebels over the strength, sailing qualities, and impregnable character of their vessel, apparently justified by the events of March 8th, led to an apprehension that she might be successful in running out to sea, and visiting Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and other cities, which were entirely unprepared for a sudden attack. The appearance of the Monitor alongside of the Minnesota, on the morning of the 9th, was altogether unexpected, and the rebel commander evidently knew that he had no common foe with which to deal. OAPTUBE OP JACKSONVILLE, PLA.
Maeoh 12, 1862.
Jacksonville, the principal town in East Florida, is situated on the St. John's river, twenty miles from the sea. Vessels drawing twelve feet of water can cross the bar. An important commercial city of Florida, it was desirable to restore it to the protection of the government, and after the capture of Fernandina, the commanders of the expedition turned their attention to the accomplishment of this object. The United States gunboat Ottawa, in company with the Pembina and Seneca, succeeded in crossing the bar off Jacksonville, on the 11th of March. Commodore Rogers found to his great satisfaction, as already at Fernandina and St. Mary's, no attempt to dispute his progress or resist the restoration of the city to its allegiance to the government.
Contrary to expectation on both sides, the approaches to this place by the river were not defended, and no resistance was offered to the Union forces by land or water. As at Fernandina, the batteries were evacuated, and the guns for the most part left behind. This was by order of General Trapier, who is said to have acted upon orders from General Lee, commanding the Confederate troops on the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coast. There were some five thousand rebel troops in this part of Florida—at Fernandina, and on the line of the railroads to Tallahassee and Cedar Keys.
When it was ascertained by the Mayor of the city that the troops were to be withdrawn, he held a consultation with General Pyles, in company with a portion of the city council, in which the question of resistance was freely discussed. The retirement of the troops, and the entirely defenceless condition in which the people had been left, allowed them no choice had they been ever so much determined to dispute the entry of the Federal forces. The Mayor, H. H. Hoeg, issued a proclamation, informing the citizens that no opposition would be made, and calling upon all the inhabitants to treat their expected visitors with proper decorum, and to do nothing that would provoke any ill-feeling between citizens and soldiers.
On the arrival of the vessels Lieutenant Stevens was politely received by the authorities, who came on board his vessel, the Ottawa, and through S. L. Burritt, Esq., gave up the town. Many of the inhabitants had abandoned their homes, fearing to trust the Federal troops. Others, however, remained, and testified their gratification at the arrival of the fleet.
Unfortunately, however, they did not reach Jacksonville in time to save that beautiful town from the flames, as a part of it was laid in rains. On t.ie afternoon of the 11th, some five or six hundred armed men, claimutg to be a part of the force which had been stationed at Fernandina, arrived by railroad, and announced that they had come, by order of General Trapier, to burn the steam saw-mills, lumber, etc., which might be of value to the Federal authorities. No time was given to save property of any description. At dusk the torch was applied, and in a brief space eight of these immense establishments, forming nearly a circle on both sides of the river, were in a blaze. Immediately afterwards, the spacious and elegant hotel, well known to Northern invalids as the Judson House, was fired by unknown persons, together with warehouses, the railroad freight depot, etc., etc. All this property was a total loss to the owners, as no attempt was made to save or rescue any portion of it. The loss was estimated at half a million of dollars.
The population of Jacksonville, before the war broke out, was about four thousand. It had a large trade, as the St. John's river is settled with plantations, and is navigable for two hundred miles above the town for large vessels, and there were a dozen steamers running on it. The lumber trade was very extensive and prosperous. About fifty million feet of Florida pitch pine were sawed there annually. This business was ruined by the incendiaries. The exports of rosin, turpentine, etc., amounted to 8100,000 annually; cotton, $250,000; cedar, $100,000, etc. The arrivals of vessels were about 400 yearly. The town was built mainly of brick, lighted with gas, and was a great resort for invalids, for its mild and balmy climate. The Florida, Atlantic and Gulf rail road, starting here, intersects with the road from Fernandina to Cedar Keys, twelve miles from Jacksonville, and then goes on to Tallahassee, the capital, one hundred and sixty miles, and thence eighteen miles to St. Mark's, on the Gulf.
General Sherman and staff arrived on the 20th, in the steamer Cosmopolitan. He immediately issued a proclamation to the people, assuring them of protection and peace, and calling upon them to continue their accustomed business. On the same day a meeting of the citizens was held, at which the most loyal sentiments were avowed, and a series of very strong resolutions adopted in favor of the Union, and denouncing the acts of the secession convention and the State authorities in a most emphatic manner. The resolutions also called for the holding of a Convention of the State to organize a State government for Florida, and called upon the chief of the military department of the United States to retain at Jacksonville a sufficient force to maintain order and protect the citizens and their property and persons.
The loyal men of the town, after being thus assured of the continued protection of the government, gave evidence of their patriotism and devotion to the constitution; and for a time they enjoyed the peace