The following account is from the Richmond Standard as recorded in Putnam's The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, Vol 4, (1862) on page 279.  


PETERSBURG, Monday, March 10, 3 P.M.

To the Editor of the Standard:

The Merrimac went out from Norfolk on Saturday at two o'clock, and sunk the Federal ship Cumberland, burnt the Congress, and shelled Newport News until dark. The Minnesota came to the aid of the Cumberland and Congress, and the Merrimac got her ashore and peppered her terribly, until eleven o'clock P.M.

The fight was renewed on Sunday, the Patrick Henry and Jamestown running the blockade at the mouth of James River, and taking part with the Merrimac. The Federal frigate St. Lawrence and Ericsson iron propeller came up from Old Point and engaged the Merrimac.

A terrific battle ensued until two P.M. The Ericsson battered away at the Merrimac at only forty yards distance, for one hour, when the Ericsson made a plunge at the Merrimac's propeller and rudder. The latter evaded the blow and plunged full tilt at the Ericsson, causing the Yankee iron monster to head instantly for Old Point, with all hands at pumps, in a supposed sinking condition. The Merrimac fired rifled shots through the large steamer sent to assist the Minnesota, and blew her up.

The Merrimack then took the Patrick Henry and Jamestown in tow, and proceeded to Norfolk. The Merrimac lost her enormous iron beak in the plunge at Ericsson, and damaged her machinery, and is leaking a little.

The battle was altogether terrific, resulting in the destruction of two first-class frigates of the enemy, the supposed loss of the Minnesota, and serious damage to the Ericsson; also the death of many Yankees, and the annihilation of three gunboats.

Our loss was four killed and ten wounded--among the latter Com. Buchanan, of the Merrimac. The Patrick Henry was shot through the boiler, and four killed, and three wounded by scalding.

The Merrimac is a perfect success. She is a terror to the Yankees, and will visit them again soon.

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Transcription copyright 1997 by Martha H. Tyson and Mabry Tyson