The following account is from Putnam's The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, Vol 4, (1862) on pages 270-271.  



HAMPTON ROADS, March 9, 1862.

MY DEAR SIR: After a stormy passage, which proved us to be the finest sea-boat I was ever in, we fought the Merrimac for more than three hours this forenoon, and sent her back to Norfolk in a sinking condition. Iron-clad against iron-clad. We manoeuvered about the bay here, and went at each other with mutual fierceness. I consider that both ships were well fought; we were struck twenty-two times: pilot-house twice, turret nine times, side-armor eight times, deck three times. The only vulnerable point was the pilot-house. One of your great legs (nine by twelve inches thick) is broken in two. The shot struck just outside of where the captain had his eye, and it has disabled him by destroying his left eye and temporarily blinding the other. The log is not quite in two, but is broken and pressed inward one and a half inches. [The "log" alluded two is made of wrought iron of the best material.] She tried to run us down and sink us as she did the Cumberland yesterday, but she got the worse of it. Her bow passed over our deck, and our sharp upper-edged side cut through the light iron shoe upon her stem and well into her oak. She will not try that again. She gave us a tremendous thump, but did not injure us in the least. We are just able to find the point of contact.

The turret is a splendid structure. I don't think much of the shield, but the pendulums are fine things, though I cannot tell you how they would stand the shot, as they were not hit.

You were very correct in your estimate of the effect of shot upon the man inside of the turret when it was struck near him. Three men were knocked down, of whom I was one; the other two had to be carried below, but I was not disabled at all, and the others recovered before the battle was over. Captain Worden stationed himself at the pilot-house, Greene fired the guns, and I turned the turret until the Captain was disabled and was relieved by Greene, when I managed the turret myself, Master Stodden having been one of the two stunned men.

Captain Ericsson, I congratulate you upon your great success. Thousands have this day blessed you. Every man feels that you have saved this place to the nation by furnishing us with the means to whip an iron-clad frigate that was, until our arrival, having it all her own way with our most powerful vessels.

I am, with much esteem, very truly yours,


Captain J. ERICSSON,
      No. 95 Franklin Street, New-York.

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Transcription copyright 1997 by Martha H. Tyson and Mabry Tyson