hoisted a white flag and ceased action. The enemy then sent two steamers with Confederate flags flying and made fast on either side of her, with a view to haul her off or burn her. As soon as I saw this I ordered Colonel Brow, of Twentieth Indiana Regiment, then close at hand, to send two rifle companies (A and K) to the beach. The two rifled guns, under Captain Howard, and a rifled Dahlgren howitzer, manned by Master Stuyvesant and 14 sailors of the Cumberland, went into action from a raking position on the beach, covered by sand backs and trees, against these steamers.
We have had them at about 800 yards to advantage, and immediately they let go their hold on the Congress and moved out of range with much loss. They endeavored to approach her again with a steamer and row-boat, but were beaten off with loss, till finally the Merrimac, finding her prize retaken, approached and fired three shots into her and set her on fire. The remaining men escaped from the Congress over the bows of the ship to the shore, assisted by our boats, and the wounded were removed by dark.
Thus closed the tragedy of the day. The enemy retired at dark toward the opposite shore, and the Congress illuminated the heavens and varied the scene by the firing of her own guns and the flight of her balls through the air till about 2 o'clock in the morning, when her magazine exploded and a column of burning matter appeared high in the air, to be followed by the stillness of death. Through the whole day our troops were under arms, and the officers and men engaged at the batteries and as riflemen on the beach performed their duty well, and the enemy were beaten off wherever could penetrate them. All was done that it was possible to do under the circumstances to save these ships from the enemy. Some officers and men from the Cumberland, as they escaped to the shore, came forward and volunteered their services at our guns and offered aid. Toward the close of the day the enemy must have experienced considerable loss. There were none killed of my command, and but one man, private of the Seventh New York Volunteers, severely wounded by a shell from the Merrimac, resulting in the loss of his leg.
The loss on the part of our Navy must have been great by the bursting of shells and the drowning by the sinking of the Cumberland, although our best efforts were made to save them. Our ships were perfectly helpless against the Merrimac, as their broadsides produced no material effect on her.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
JOS. K. F. MANSFIELD,
Major General JOHN WOOL,
Commanding Department of Virginia.
Numbers 4. Report of Colonel David W. Wardrop, Ninety-ninth New York Infantry.
HDQRS. UNION COAST GUARD, 99TH Regiment, N. Y. V.,
Camp Hamilton, Va., March 20, 1862.
SIR: I have this morning received the official report of Captain William J. McIntire, commanding Company D, of this regiment, who have