From The Sun, Vol. L -- No. 96] Baltimore, Tuesday...

June 04, 2000



Interesting Incidents of the Engagement.

Several balls from the Merrimac passed entirely through the Congress. one of them penetrated the hospital, and, it is said, killed six persons, some of whom had been previously wounded. Whilst the engagement was going on, a young subordinate officer, who had been in conversation with his superior amidships in the frigate, was ordered forward to execute a command. He left for that purpose and was absent not much over a minute. Returning again to speak with the officer whom he had just left, he found his lifeless body prostrated with the head off, carried entirely away by a cannon ball.

There were a number of miraculous escapes and exciting incidents connected with the escape of those who were saved. A good many were seen to sink in their efforts to swim ashore, land being nearly a mile from the ship.

The contest between the two iron-clad steamers, as seen at a distance by spectators, is described as intensely exciting. At one time, when they were grappling with each other, they were wholly enveloped by smoke. Separating again, and coming out into the bright sunshine, their iron armor glittered brilliantly, as flash after flash broke forth, followed by deep reports like distant thunder.

It is said the attempt by the Merrimac to run her steel prow into the Monitor was a dead failure. She rebounded without producing the slightest effect. This experiment was tried but once.

Subsequently the fight was altogether with the batteries. The sharpshooters on board the Monitor, aiming from the numerous small gun holes, took advantage, when the port holes of the Merrimac opened to run out her guns, to pour volleys of rifle balls at them, doing, it is thought, considerable execution. Occasionally faces could be distinctly seen at these openings for a short time. As soon as the rifles were discharged, they appeared to fall back.

The Merrimac at one time has careened considerably, and at this juncture it is thought two or three balls from the Monitor's guns struck her wooden works and went through. Immediately after this she hauled off, abandoning the contest, evidently disabled. Such is understood to be Lieut. Worden's opinion.

Lieut. Worden was injured whilst standing at the lookout by a shell which struck near it and exploded, driving some of the powder into his face and eyes. He suffered considerably, but no fears are entertained for his sight being permanently injured. This accident occurred with the last shot fired by the enemy.

The surgeon deemed it advisable to bandage his eyes, so as o keep out the light for a few days.

Lieutenant W. thinks he will be able for active service in a few days. He came up in the Georgeanna on Monday, and went directly through to Washington on the eight o'clock train, accompanied by several friends. A special car was provided for his accommodation, and every attention shown to him by W. P. Smith, the obliging master of transportation, and others connected with the road.

The impression prevails that more than half of those on board the Cumberland escaped to shore by swimming, in boats, &c.

Most of the war vessels that participated in the fight were more or less injured; some, however, but slightly.

The Merrimac did not suffer much.

It was impossible to say how much injury or how many lives may have been lost on board the Confederate steamer.

The Monitor, or Ericsson Battery.

The vessel is sharp at both ends, and consists of a lower and upper hull. The lower hull is iron plated. The upper section is five feet high, with perpendicular sides and the same sharp ends, and is forty-one feet four inches wide, jutting over the lower hull three feet and seven inches on each side.

The sides of this upper section are a little over three feet in thickness. First there is an inner guard of six inch plate iron, and upon this a section of white oak timber, thirty inches thick and covered with an armor six inches thick, formed of six one-inch iron plates, lapped and firmly riveted together.

The deck or top of the battery is even with the top of the hull, and is covered with two thicknesses of inch plate iron, fastened to eight-inch oak plank and ten-inch oak timber, but twenty-six inches apart. There is no railing or other obstruction on the top of the battery except a round tower or turret, twenty feet in diameter and nine feet high, and eight inches thick, made of plate iron.

The turret has two port holes, each two feet in diameter, for two eleven inch columbiads, and is also pierced for musketry. The turret is of immense weight, but made to revolve by machinery from below, so as to bring the guns in any desired range, and to remove the ports from the enemy's guns while loading.

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