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At an early age my father told me the story of how my great grandfather once fought in the famous battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor. That memory was tucked away for quite some time until recently when I was searching the internet and stumbled across a website devoted to the history of the Merrimac. Suddenly I was on a quest to learn as much as possible about my great grandfather and his experiences. Time has closed the door on much of that history. However, in 1914 shortly before my great grandfather’s death at the age of 77, he gave a written personal account of his experiences during the sinking of the Cumberland and the subsequent battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor the following day. Through the help of several individuals, within days I had a copy of the muster roll listing his name as a crew member on the Merrimac and his detailed service record outlining transfers and dates of service. Apparently, Elijah W. Flake enlisted in Anson County North Carolina on Sept. 5, 1861 at the age of 20. He joined the 14th North Carolina Regiment, Company C. While stationed near Smithfield Virginia, “not very far from Portsmouth, where the Merrimac was being made ready for the upcoming conflict”, he was transferred to the Navy and assigned to the CSS Merrimac/Virginia on Feb. 15 1862. Merely one month later he would be battling the Cumberland and Monitor in one of the most historic naval encounters of the civil war. This account was later written down in his book, “The Battle Between the Merrimac and the Monitor”. After the Merrimac was scuttled he enlisted in the 26th Regiment Company K on Feb. 1, 1863 and fought under Lee until he was wounded at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. At Gettysburg he served under Colonel Henry King Burgwyn, Jr. Regiment K apparently distinguished itself on the field of battle while sustaining a large number of casualties, of which my great grandfather was one. During his recovery at the hospital he was listed as a hospital steward through Feb. 1865. When he returned to his company the war was coming to an end. His last official military act was surrendering, with 134 members of the 26th Regiment, at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. Enclosed is Elijah Wilson Flake’s personal account of his experiences during the battle between the Merrimac and the Monitor. I cannot tell you how fortunate I feel to have this little piece of history regarding my family.
Michael Anthony Flake
Great Grandson of Elijah Wilson Flake