The following account is from Putnam's The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, Vol 4, (1862) on page 270. Note that although the account describes events of both March 8 and 9, 1862, the date on the account is March 8 in The Rebellion Record. 


REPORT OF CAPTAIN WATSON

UNITED STATES STEAMER DRAGON, March 8, 1862

At six P.M., went alongside of the Roanoke, and was ordered to get up a big head of steam, and go on the starboard side and make fast, as the Merrimac was in sight, and the signal given to get under weigh and go after her. At half-past one P.M., slipped the anchors of the Roanoke and started for the Merrimac. At two P.M., received orders to take a hawser and go ahead, as the ship had got ashore, and it was necessary to get her head in the right direction. At the same time the batteries at Sewall's Point opened on the tow, which was immediately responded to by the Roanoke and Dragon. On nearing Newport News, I was ordered to tow the Roanoke head toward the Rip Raps, and let go, and go to the Minnesota and render every assistance possible, which was done with a will. Arriving at the Minnesota, took position and opened fire on the Yorktown and Jamestown. Kept it up until dark, when we received orders to cease firing and lay by the ship until morning. At two A.M., tried to tow the Minnesota off the bottom, and succeeded only to ground in another and more exposed place. Made fast for the night. Second day, at eight A.M., we were ordered to take up position as best we could, and opened fire on the Yorktown and Jamestown, with good effect; could plainly see our shells bursting on the enemy. At twelve M., received orders to go alongside of the Minnesota, and be ready to assist in towing her off. Made fast on the port-side, being in direct line of the Merrimac's batteries. At the same moment received two shots from her, one taking effect in the boiler, blowing up the vessel, together with the captain and three men; seriously wounding Charles J. Freese; badly scalding Ben S. Hungerford, and breaking the legs of ---- McDonald, which will have to be amputated. Received orders to get on board the Minnesota. Vessel on fire. Shortly after received orders to get bags and hammocks on board of the Whitehall.

The following is a list of officers at the time:
Acting Master Commanding.--Wm. Watson.
First Engineer.--Wm. A. Seward.
Second Engineer.--Thomas Jordan.
Master's Mate.--Wm. Bowdin.
Quartermaster.--Ben S. Hungerford.
Steward.--Jeferine Banditche.
Six firemen and ten seamen.

WM. WATSON,     
Captain.


CSS Virginia
Transcription copyright 1997 by Martha H. Tyson and Mabry Tyson