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The Monitor and the Merrimac Both sides of the story   By: (1843-1914)

Book cover

First Page:

[Illustration: Courtesy of the Century Co.

THE "MONITOR" THE "MERRIMAC"

THE ENCOUNTER AT SHORT RANGE, MARCH 9, 1862.]

THE MONITOR AND THE MERRIMAC

BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY

TOLD BY LIEUT. J.L. WORDEN, U.S.N. LIEUT. GREENE, U.S.N. OF THE MONITOR

AND

H. ASHTON RAMSAY, C.S.N. CHIEF ENGINEER OF THE MERRIMAC

ILLUSTRATED

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS NEW YORK AND LONDON MCMXII

COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY HARPER & BROTHERS

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

PUBLISHED MARCH, 1912

CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

Introduction vii

I. THE MONITOR AND THE MERRIMAC 1 Told by Lieutenant Worden and Lieutenant S.D. Greene of the Monitor

II. THE MERRIMAC AND THE MONITOR 25 Told by H. Ashton Ramsay, Major C.S.A., Chief Engineer of the Merrimac

III. THE LAST OF THE MONITOR 67 By an eye witness, Rear Admiral E.W. Watson, U.S.N.

INTRODUCTION

This is the first hand story of what was done and seen and felt on each side in the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac . The actual experiences on both vessels are pictured, in one case by the commander of the Monitor , then a lieutenant, and the next in rank, Lieutenant Greene, and in the other by Chief Engineer Ramsay of the Merrimac . Clearly such a record of personal experiences has a place by itself in the literature of the subject.

It is quite unnecessary to dwell upon the various controversies which this battle has involved. As to the first use of armor, we know that France experimented with floating armored batteries in the Crimean War, and England had armored ships before 1862. As to the invention of the movable turret, which has been a bone of contention, the pages of Colonel Church's Life of John Ericsson and other books are open to the curious. The struggle of Ericsson to obtain official recognition, the raising of money, the hasty equipment of the Monitor , and the restraining orders under which she fought form a story supplementary to the battle, but of peculiar interest. The Monitor was ordered to act on the defensive. It was her mission first to protect the wooden ships. That explains certain misconceptions of her cautious attitude. And the fact that the powder charges for her Dahlgren guns were officially limited to fifteen pounds, although thirty and even fifty pounds were used with safety afterward, invites speculation upon the results if she had fought with a free hand.

But the main result was reached. The Union fleet was saved. The career of the Merrimac was checked. No Union vessel was destroyed after the Monitor appeared. It seems proper to note these facts here, in view of the fact that Mr. Ramsay's fresh and striking story of the Merrimac , which is presented for the first time, enters upon the details of the battle more fully than the narrative of Lieutenant Worden and Lieutenant Greene. Fortunately the discussion has become academic in the half century that has passed since Southern cheers over the first conquests of the Merrimac faltered before the acclaim which greeted the Monitor's achievement of her task. One may disagree with the phrasing of various historians on both sides, one may find it difficult to accept the inscription upon the shaft of the Merrimac outside the "Confederate White House" in Richmond, but no American can cease to wonder at the fortitude and daring of those other Americans who fought to the death in those hastily improvised crafts, bearing the brunt not only of battle, but of a strange and terrible experiment. It is not an argument that this book offers, but a saga of heroes, an illumination of qualities which have made our history in times of crisis.

The year of this battle witnessed the destruction of both the vessels engaged. Mr. Ramsay describes the blowing up of the Merrimac ... Continue reading book >>




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