James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
but she might be disabled in the next encounter. I cannot advise so great dependence upon her. Meigs, still alarmed, wrote from Washington [March 13]: I would not trust this city to the strength of a single screw bolt in the Monitors new machinery. If one breaks, the Merrimac beats her. As late as March 15, Welles confessed, There is a degree of apprehension in regard to the armored steamer Merrimac which it is difficult to allay.
The Merrimac made two more appearances in Hampton Roads, the first one on April 11, when she directed the capture of three merchant vessels by a Confederate armed steamer and a gunboat. The Monitor was on the watch, but neither ventured to attack the other. Her second appearance was on May 8, when, in the words of her commander, she stood directly for the enemy for the purpose of engaging him, but the Monitor and her consorts would not give battle. Secretary Chase, who with the President and Secretary of War was at Fort Monroe on a brief visit, wrote this account of the incident: The Merrimac came on slowly and in a little while there was a clear sheet of water between her and the Monitor. Then the great rebel terror pausedthen turned backand having finally attained what she considered a safe position, became stationery again. On May 11, as a consequence of the evacuation of Norfolk by the Confederates due to McClellans advance, she was fired and, after burning fiercely for upward of an hour, blew up.1
The opportune appearance of the Monitor was a piece of good fortune for the Navy Department, but her construction was due to its foresight. Nevertheless, her restraint of the Merrimac was in the nature of defensive warfare, whilst the
Note 1. O. R. N., VII, 99, 100, 101, 127, 220, 335, 336, 337, 342, 387; Warden, 428; N. & H., V. In December, the Monitor foundered off Cape Hatteras. [back]