War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0023 Chapter XIX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

Search Civil War Official Records

should board her by a sudden rush, fire down through her hatches or grated deck, and throw cartridges, grenades, or shells down her smokepipes; sacrifice the steamers in order to take the Merrimac

If an overwhelming force can be thus thrown on board there will be little loss of life, though the steam transports may be destroyed. Of course the steamers should be provided with ladders, planks, grapplers, and other means to board with. The Merrimac has iron sides, sloping above water to a deck about 9 feet wide. Said to be as irongrated deck.

Promotion, ample reward, awaits whoever takes or destroys her. by order of the Secretary of War:

M. C. MEIGS,

Quartermaster-General.

You, of course, have a swift steamer outside on the look out.

WASHINGTON, D. C.,

March 9, 1862-1 p. m.

Major General JOHN E WOOL, Fort Monroe:

If the rebels obtain full command of the water it would be impossible for you to hold Newport News. You are therefore authorized to evacuate that place, drawing the garrison in upon Fort Monroe, which I need not say so brave an officer is to be held at all hazard as I will risk everything to sustain you should you be attacked by superior force.

From indications here I suspect an intention of the enemy to fall back nearer to Richmond, that they may better concentrate their forces. An attack upon you is not improbable.

If the 15-inch gun is newport News I would suggest its immediate removal to either Fort Monroe or Fort Calhoun, unless it will enable you to retain possession of Newport News. By authorizing you to withdrawn from Newport News I do not mean to give you the order to do so, but to relieve you from that grave sense of responsibility which every good officer feels in such a case. I would only evacuate Newport News when it became clear that the rebels certainly obtain complete control of the water render it untenable. Do not run the risk of placing its garrison under the necessary of surrendering.

You will also please inform me fully of your views and wishes, the practicability and necessity of re-enforcing you &c. The performances of the Merrimac place a new aspect upon everything, and may probably change my old plan of campaign just on the eve of execution.

GEO. R. McCLELLAN,

Major-General, Commanding.

FORT MONROE, VA.,

March 9, 1862-10.45 p. m.

Major-General McCLELLAN, Washington, D. C.:

Your telegram to Major-General Wool received. The performance of the Monitor to-day against the Merrimac shows a slight superiority in favor of the Monitor, as the Merrimac was forced to retreat to Norfolk after a hour hour's engagement, at times the vessels touching each other. The damage to the Merrimac cannot be ascertained. She retreated under steam without assistance.

The Monitor is all ready for her no-morrow, but I think the Merrimac may be obliged to lay up for a few days. She is an ugly customer,