[CIVIL WAR - BATTLE OF THE MONITOR AND MERRIMAC]. Account from the Flagship U.S.S. Minnesota. 25 March 1862

16 pages, 8vo, on U.S. Flag Ship "Minnesota." letterhead, lacking final page(s).

To recipients identified only by first names. The author writes regarding the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac. Men are confined to the ship because “so much was the Merrimack expected down.” “Do you know that after the fatigue of the fight—being without taking off our clothes for fifty hours and this only varied by two naps of two hours each—being on foot for twenty two consecutive hours and half starved all the time—we could not have a ‘night in’ for three weeks[?].” “I must try and give you an account of the fight...One thing I wish to warn you against believing is those attempts by the St. Lawrence, Roanoake and Cambridge to gain a credit they did not deserve...First of all in pluck stands the Cumberland. The Congress can not be blamed for her proceeding. The Monitor you know well of...One little ferry boat, the Whitehall, has been strangely neglected. This little thing after chasing off three rebel boats of an equal armament squared off within fifty yards of the Merrimack and engaged her for five or ten minutes until Captain Van Brunt signaled her to come away; she then lay by us and had several killed on her in that position. The Roanoake, St. Lawrence, and Cambridge took no part in the fight with the Merrimack.”

A detailed and stirring account of the battle follows, though it emphasizes the events aboard the Minnesota rather than the battle of the Monitor and Merrimac. Both, however, are mentioned often and meaningfully. This account includes shells exploding on the Minnesota and the writer narrowly escaping death. “Five men more were killed within a few yards of me scattering heads, brains and blood all over the deck yet it did not seem at all out of place and when they carried the wounded by me it did not seem an unusual sight. Ones feelings are a marvel on such an occasion.” “I went on deck at last to see the Congress burn and going on the fore castle I perched on the carriage of the pivot gears and then in company with the midshipman then watched the conflagration...At last the rumors of the Monitors appearance became current and caused a momentary exultation but none could trace them till at last from my old perch the gangway I saw the ‘pill box’ coming out of the darkness as quiet and lifeless as a shadow—not an appearance of animation about her.” There follows a detailed description of two shells hitting the Minnesota and the devastation they caused. “When the order came to abandon the ship we thought the Monitor disabled as she was coming back.” As they “disabled the guns and prepared to burn the ship,” “the Monitor came alongside so quietly as if nothing had happened and told us that the Merrimack was going back in a sinking condition. Then Captain Van Brunt jumped into the hammock netting and asked the men if they would help him save the ship. They gave a yell and came tumbling back like lamplighters. . . . When we reached our old anchorage at day break we manned the rigging and gave cheers for the ship, the Monitor[,] Ericsson and all.” He discusses new officers: Selfridge from the Cumberland and an unnamed commodore who’s an “old blowhard.” “The place is crowded with troops now. McClellan is here and was aboard last night—a forcible looking fellow.”

The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection Lots 79-98; 116; 138-153; and 266

Cowan's is pleased to offer the third installment of Richard B. Cohen's collection of Civil War Brown Water Navy photography. Richard was known to many in the field as a "disciplined collector who maintained a relatively narrow focus having built an important, perhaps unsurpassed collection in his area of specialization." From cartes de visite to large format photographs, this portion of the collection features a noteworthy selection of images of Brown Water Navy warships, among them, the USS BentonChoctawLafayette, and Louisville. Many important identified naval officers are also represented, including an exquisite CDV of the promising young officer, Lieutenant Commander William Gwin, who died of wounds aboard the USS Benton following an artillery duel with Confederate forces at Snyder's Bluff, and an exceptionally large war-date photograph of the controversial commander of the USS Pittsburgh, Egbert Thompson.

This auction also features a premiere selection of autographs and manuscripts from Richard's carefully curated collection. Highlights include a letter from Jefferson Davis to his distant cousin, John J. Pettus, Governor of Mississippi, dated a year before secession, conveying intricate plans for securing armaments in preparation for the war; an Abraham Lincoln signed endorsement; a letter from Admiral D.G. Farragut from New Orleans, offering excellent insight into his "political" thinking as well as his dedication to his work; correspondence from Gideon Welles, David Dixon Porter, U.S. Grant, and W.T. Sherman; and a pair of superb letters with highly descriptive accounts of the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac.

Provenance:The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection

Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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