Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac

Lieutenant Worden, U.S.N. (Harper's Weekly)

Black-and-white illustration from Harper's Weekly, March 22, 1862 issue, showing Lieutenant John Lorimer Worden commander of the Monitor.

Caption: Lieutenant [John Lorimer] Worden, U.S.N., Commanding the "Monitor" – (See page 183 [for related story])

Source: Illustration above and text below from Harper's Weekly, March 22, 1862, page 177.

Lieutenant Worden, U.S.N.

We are delighted to be able to present our readers on this page with a portrait of Lieutenant Worden, U.S.N., the hero of the great NAVAL BATTLE at Hampton Roads.

Lieutenant John Lorimer Worden is a native and citizen of New York, from which State he was appointed to the Navy. His original entry as a midshipman into the service bears date from the 10th of January, 1834, and he obtained his present commission on the 30th of November, 1846. His sea service under his present commission to the end of 1860 had been eight years and nine months, his total sea service being to that date nearly seventeen years. His shore or other duty amounted at that time to nearly seven years, and he was over three years unemployed. His total length of service up to the present time exceeds twenty-eight years. He was last at sea in November, 1860, on board the sloop Savannah, twenty-two guns, on the blockading squadron, and was granted a short leave of absence on his return; after which he was sent as a special messenger to Fort Pickens, with dispatches to Captain Adams, of the Sabine, commanding the fleet off Pensacola, with notice that the fort would be reinforced by two companies of artillery, and instructions to Captain Adams and Colonel Brown as to their conduct in case of an attack by rebels upon the fleet and fort. He went by the land route, and on the way he destroyed his dispatches.  As he anticipated, he was arrested at Montgomery, and as no papers were found on his person he was allowed to pass. On his arrival at Pensacola he obtained a pass from the rebel General Bragg, permitting him to carry a verbal message from Secretary Cameron to Captain Adams.  He went to him and repeated from memory his dispatches. The fort was reinforced, and as he was returning he was arrested by the rebel General Bragg, under the false pretense of having broken his parole; but the main object was to obtain his dispatches to the Government, if he should have had any in his possession. He was sent to Montgomery, where he was kept for some time as a prisoner of war. There was an intense excitement against him, as the rebel General Bragg had collected a force of 1000 men and intended to attack Fort Pickens the very night it was reinforced. Lieutenant Worden was kept in confinement until the middle of November last, when he was exchanged and went to Fortress Monroe, where he joined the Minnesota. He was afterward detached from that vessel and appointed to the command of the Monitor.

His gallant performance at the battle at Hampton Roads is recorded in another part of this paper. Under Providence he saved our navy. The correspondent of the Associated Press well says:

"The Monitor was handled with unsurpassed skill, decision, and coolness, for which all praise should be given her officers. She has come up to the expectations that were formed of her, and has proved herself impregnable to the heaviest shot at close quarters.

"Lieutenant Worden, who handled the Monitor so skillfully, is in Washington, in the hands of a surgeon. He was in the pilot-house of the Monitor when the Merrimac directed a whole broadside at it, and received his injuries from the minute fragments of powder which were driven through the look-out holes. Lieutenant Worden, was stunned by the concussion, and was carried away. On recovering he asked, 'Have I saved the Minnesota?' The reply was, 'Yes, and whipped the Merrimac.' To which he answered, 'Then I don't care what becomes of me.'

"The injuries of Lieutenant Worden are not supposed to be dangerous."

The rebels are, of course, jubilant over the affair. The dispatch says:

The Merrimac, or, as it is called by them, the Virginia, had received damage, but nothing that was serious.

They admit the loss of four killed and several wounded on aboard.  Captain Buchanan, who commanded her, was seriously wounded on Saturday, and the command devolved upon his First Lieutenant.  The officers say little or nothing about the Sunday's fight.

The commander of the Cumberland is spoken of as fighting his ship with a gallantry worthy a better cause.  The total rebel loss is said to be nine killed and twelve wounded.  Twenty-three prisoners arrived at Norfolk on Saturday night from the Congress; one died on the passage.

The Monitor is said to have been seriously injured by the Virginia.

A similar portrait of Lieutenant Worden appeared in the March 29 issue of Leslie's Illustrated News.

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Last Updated: March 14, 2012