War And Blockade

White River Battle August 1862

In 1860, the United States of America lay on the brink of Civil War as North and South were drawn apart on issues of slave 17 and state rights. To all but the most hot-headed secessionist, war between the predominantly agrarian South and the largely industrialized North would lead to the overwhelming of the rebelling Southern states by sheer weight of manpower and material. The only chance for the Confederacy was a rapid military victory, ending the conflict before Northern industrial might...

Select Bibliography

Bauer, Jack K., & Roberts, Stephen, S. Register of Ships of the US Navy, 1775-1990, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT, 1991) Bennett, Frank M., The Steam Navy of the United States, Warren and Company (Pittsburgh. PA, 1896) Brophy, Ann, John Ericsson and the Inventions of War, Silver Burdett Press (Eaglewood Cliffs, NJ, 1991 Canney, Donald L., Lincoln's Navy The Ships, Men and Organization, 1861-65, Conway Maritime Press (London, UK, 1998) Chapelle, Howard I., The History of the American Sailing...

Converting The Merrimac

During his visit, Mallory examined the wreck of the Merrimac. Across Hampton Roads, Flag Officer Silas Stringham, commander of the newly formed North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, deemed the wreck worthless in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. Mallory thought otherwise, and weeks after the fall of the Norfolk Navy Yard, he formed a design team, consisting of naval constructor John L. Porter, Lieutenant John M. Brooke and naval engineer William The jetty immediately to the...

The Battlefield Today

Fort Monroe

Hampton Roads has changed almost beyond recognition over the past. 160 years. The only constant is the water itself, dark, deep, and cold. Once a sleepy Tidewater port, Norfolk is now a major American city, and home to what is probably the largest naval base in the world. Much of the shoreline around Sewell's Point and the eastern bank of the Elizabeth River where Confederate soldiers watched the drama unfold is now part of Norfolk Navy complex. In the waters off the point where the Virginia...

CSS Virginia

Ironclad Colors Csn James River Squadron

The decision to build an ironclad from the hulk of the burned-out steam frigate USS Merrimac was made by Stephen Mallory, the Confederate Secretary of the Navy. He realized that it was almost impossible for his Navy to break the Union blockade by conventional means, so he adopted a more radical approach, placing his faith in ironclads and rifled ordnance. The Merrimac had been burned and sunk when Union forces withdrew from Norfolk, but on inspection she was deemed to still be valuable....

Confederate

Mallory, Secretary of the Navy (1812-73) Although he was born in Trinidad, Mallory was brought up in Key West, Florida, where he served as a customs inspector and porl administrator. Trained as a lawyer, he became a local judge in 1840, and in 1851 he became a Florida senator. He served on the Naval Affairs Committee until the secession of Florida from the Union. He offered his services to the Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who appointed him Confederate Secretary of the Navy...

Union

Lieutenant Dana Greene

Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy (1802-79) Born in Connecticut, Welles became the owner and editor of the Hartford Times newspaper in 1826. The same year he won a seat in the Connecticut Legislature dial he held for nine years. In 1846 he began a four-year term in the Navy Department as the Chief of the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing, which provided him with a modicum of understanding of the Navy and its organization. In 1850 he failed to win a seat on the Senate as a Democrat, so he...

All was lost except honor The destruction of the Cumberland

Inside The Css Virginia

Before he led the Virginia into action, Flag Officer Buchanan addressed his crew. Sailors, in a few minutes you will have the long-looked-for opportunity of showing your devotion to our cause. Remember that you are about to strike for your country and your homes. The Confederacy expects every man to do his duty. Beat to Quarters The crew went to their stations, and one would note that the strictest discipline was in force on our gun deck, no one at the guns was allowed to talk, not even in a...

The Defenses of Norfolk

The Confederates, who had approximately 9,000 troops in the area, held the southern side of Hampton Roads. They came under the jurisdiction of Major General Benjamin Huger, commander of the Department of Norfolk, although in theory Flag Officer Buchanan was the senior officer there. Huger was also supposed to work in concert with the 12,000 troops screening the Union forces around Fort Monroe and Newport News, who were commanded by Major General John B. Magruder. In reality, Huger was an...

The Union Defenses of Fort Monroe and Newport News

The northern shore of Hampton Roads was dominated by the imposing bulk of Fort Monroe, a brick-built fortification similar to other coastal fortifications that ringed the country from New England to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The fort was defended by 12,000 men, a total that included both its garrison and troops in outlying camps Camp Butler at Newport News Point, Camp Hamilton two miles to the north, and Camp Harrison in the burned-out village of Hampton itself. The troops at Fort...

The Capture Of Norfolk Navy Yard

Images The Norfolk Naval Yard

In 1861, the steam frigate USS Merrimac was one of the most powerful warships in the US Navy. She was one of a series of six 40-gun steam frigates ordered in 1854, and from her launch in Boston the following year she was regarded as the pride of the fleet. She served in the West Indies and the Pacific before being sent to Norfolk Navy Yard in February 1860 for a major refit. Norfolk Navy Yard was considered the premier yard in the country. It covered 108 acres in the Gosport suburb of...

The Sortie of the CSS Virginia Saturday 8 March 1862

Lag Officer Buchanan's plan to attack the Union blockading fleet in Hampton Roads on Thursday 6 March was cancelled. The CSS Virginia was still not ready for action, and Lieutenant Jones begged for a few more days to finish preparing the ironclad. Buchanan had planned a night attack, but local pilots refused to take responsibility for guiding the ship up the Elizabeth River in the dark. The attack was postponed until Saturday morning. Even then, the gunport shields would still not be fitted,...

Ericssons Folly

Fort Folly

On 3 August 1861, the Union Navy Department secured Federal funding to build ironclads in response to the threat posed by the Merrimac. The Ironclad Board reviewed the 16 tenders that had been submitted, and encouraged by the financier Cornelius Bushnell, and prompted by Welles, the Board reluctantly approved the design proposed by John Ericsson. None of the board members were engineers, or even advocates of ironclad warships, but all three members understood the danger facing the blockading...

Aftermath

Civil War Fortress Monroe

Neither side could claim a victory in the Battle of Hampton Roads. The four-hour battle between the ironclads had been a stalemate. The Monitor had been hit 23 times, and the Virginia 20 times. Neither ship was badly damaged in the engagement. Although Lieutenant Worden was badly scarred, he survived, and eventually regained his eyesight. There were no other casualties. The day before, the Virginia had destroyed two powerful warships and killed or wounded hundreds of Union sailors. Why did the...

The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron at Hampton Roads

Battle Fort Hampton Roads

The blockading squadron that lay in Hampton Roads during the first week of March 1862 was representative of the blockading forces that encircled the Confederacy. All were unarmored vessels, and almost all were wooden. The most powerful ships were the steam frigates USS Minnesota Captain Gershon Van Brunt and USS Roanoke Captain John Marston , both well armed with the latest shell guns. Marston was also the acting commander of the squadron during the battle. The squadron also included several...

USS Monitor

When reports reached Washington that the Confederates were building an ironclad warship, the Navy Department became alarmed, and lobbied for funds to counter the threat with their own ironclad program. Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, was a highly experienced and competent administrator, but so far his efforts had been concentrated on expanding the navy by ordering new conventional warships and converting merchantmen for naval service. His primary aim was to create an effective...

Introduction

FT The battle between the ss Virginia and the USS 'mitor on 9 March 1862 was ve first naval engagement tween two ironclad warships, -d represented a turning point h naval history. The Monitor and T gt e Merrimac, oil on canvas by anthus R. Smith. Union League Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA On 9 March 1862, the world's first battle between two ironclad warships took place in the confined waters of Hampton Roads, Virginia. Thousands of soldiers and civilians lined the shores to watch the...

A terrible scene of carnage The second attack on the Congress

Sketch The Battle Hampton Roads

The Virginia had destroyed or damaged two powerful enemy warships, and was relatively unscathed. She was also facing in the opposite direction from the rest of the Union fleet. She continued bombarding the shore, destroying both the wharf and General Mansfield's headquarters. The Virginia had to turn to port, but it would take about SO minutes to turn the ungainly ironclad through 180 degrees. In the meantime she provided enough of a distraction to allow the James...

Info

Mine Creek Battlefield

30 January Monitor launched 17 February CSS Virginia commissioned 25 February USS Monitor commissioned 6 March Monitor begins journey to Hampton Roads 8 March Battle of Hampton Roads First Day 10.OOhrs The French sloop Gassendi prepares to move, raising the suspicions of General Wool 10.30 Flag Officer Buchanan orders the CSS Virginia be prepared for sea 11.00 The Virginia begins her journey down the Elizabeth River 11.15 Union signal station on Newport News Point sights smoke on the Elizabeth...

Index

Congaree Creek Map Sherman Defense

THE CONFEDERATE SEABOARD, MARCH-APRIL 1862 The Union North Atlantic Blockading Squadron y moved its base to Norfolk, Virginia in May 1862, s w I-1 moved its base to following the capture of the city._, , , , Flotilla SOUTH _L M- GOI .DSBOROUGI I_ _ Mobile - jj Pensaeola South _ I Atlantic 'T, Blockading I Squadron MIRAL New Orleans fc- Forward Depot South _ I Atlantic 'T, Blockading I Squadron MIRAL Mobile - jj Pensaeola The West Gulf Blockading Squadron was based in Key West. Florida until May...

Hampton Roads 1862

The Ussex Ironclad

ANGUS KONSTAM is an experienced Osprey author with over 10 titles in print. He has long been associated with the sea, having served in the Royal Navy, practised underwater archaeology and curated a maritime museum. His understanding of the subject is based on years of study of maritime history, and intimate knowledge of the leading maritime museums on both sides of the Atlantic. ADAM HOOK studied graphic design, and began his work as an illustrator in 1983. He specializes in detailed historical...