James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
exaggerated, but one consideration could not rationally be ignored. She had broken the blockade at Norfolk and might do as much at other ports. During the excited meeting at the White House, Welles said to the President and his advisers: The Monitor is now in Hampton Roads. I have confidence in her power to resist and, I hope, to overcome the Merrimac.1
The Monitor had been towed from New York and, despite a gale and stormy passage, had reached Hampton Roads on the Saturday evening at nine. Thence, in obedience to further orders, she proceeded two and a half hours later to a point alongside the Minnesota. At daylight on March 9, the Confederates saw a craft such as the eyes of a seaman never looked upon beforean immense shingle floating on the water, with a gigantic cheese box rising from its centre: no sails, no wheels, no smoke-stack, no guns:2 they knew it was the Monitor. At eight oclock the Merrimac bore down upon the Minnesota and opened fire on her. The Monitor, which was commanded by Lieut. John L. Worden, steered directly for the Merrimac, laid herself right alongside and opened fire. The Monitor was of 776 tons burden, drew only ten and a half feet and had two 11-inch Dahlgren guns fired from a revolving turret; the Merrimac was a ship of 3500 tons carrying ten cannon. It was said that a pigmy strove against a giant; David had come out to encounter Goliath.
Then, for nearly four hours ensued a fierce artillery duel at close range; the distance between the two vessels varied from half a mile to a few yards. Gun after gun was fired by the Monitor without result except to draw broadsides from the Merrimac, which apparently had no more effect