How Much to Sink the Merrimack?

how much to sink the merrimack mssEC_03_056 cropped.jpg

W. B. Dinsmore N.Y.  March 14th
Send this to C Vanderbilt
market strictly Confidential. The Secretary
of War directs me to
ask you for what sum
you will contract to destroy
the Merrimac or prevent her
from coming out from Norfolk
you to sink or destroy
her is she gets out
answer by telegh as there
is no time to be
lost John Tucker Asst Secy
A Stager

The CSS Virginia (again referred to as the Merrimac) is perhaps one of the most famous ships of the Civil War, and the panic that it caused the Union is evident in this telegram sent to Cornelius Vanderbilt, asking how much it would cost to sink or disable it. This came barely a week after the Battle of Hampton Roads (see yesterday’s post), when the Merrimac fought the USS Monitor to a stalemate. Vanderbilt responded the same day that he could not estimate the cost, but that he would come to Washington to confer. As it turned out, he donated his steamer, the Vanderbilt, to the Union Navy, who used it to bolster the blockade at Hampton Roads.

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