Stephen R. 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 in May 1861. He held the position throughout the war, and was instrumental in developing new technologies to help offset Union naval superiority. These included the development of an ironclad fleet, torpedoes (mines), and rifled ordnance. Tn late 1861 he approved plans to raise the burned-out hulk of the USS Merrimac and to convert her into a casemate ironclad (the Virginia), and closely supervised the development of the project. The success of the design was an affirmation of Mallory's belief in ironclads.
A gifted politician and administrator, Mallory proved himself capable of dealing with the technical and logistical challenges of his job. Although his strategic vision of the Virginia s ability to break the Union blockade was flawed, his reliance on developing a fleet of ironclads helped protect the major ports of the Confederacy for as long as practicable. Following the collapse of the Confederacy he was arrested and imprisoned for a year. After the war he moved to Pensacola where he practised law until his death.
John L. Porter, principal designer of the CSS Virginia (1821-84) Porter was brought up in Portsmouth, Virginia, where his father owned a civilian shipyard close to the Norfolk Naval Yard. He was duly hired by the US Navy Department as a civilian naval designer, and worked on several projects in the Navy Department, including the development of steam warships. In 1859 he was appointed Naval Constructor, the leading warship design post in the Navy. When Virginia seceded in 1861, Porter resigned his post and returned to Virginia. For a few months he served on the staff of the Virginia State Navy, but following its amalgamation into the new Confederate Navy he joined the offices of the Navy Department in Richmond. Although he held no official position until 1864, he was de facto head of naval construction in the Department. Together with ordnance expert Lieutenant John M. Brooke and engineer William P. Williamson, Porter drew up plans for the conversion of the burned-out warship Merrimac into a Confederate ironclad. Although there was a degree of animosity between Porter and Brooke, the trio succeeded in converting the warship that was to become the casemate ironclad CSS Virginia.
Following the success of his design, Porter was authorized to develop plans for several new ironclads, including the highly successful Richmond Class. He continued to design the majority of new warships in the Confederacy, although his position as Chief Naval Constructor was only officially ratified in 1864. An extremely gifted designer, Porter became a businessman after the war.
Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan, Commanding Officcr of the CSS Virginia (1800-74) Born in Maryland, Buchanan entered the US Navy in 1815, and gradually rose through the ranks, being promoted Commander in 1841. He assisted in the creation of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and in 1845 he became its first superintendent. He commanded the sloop USS Germantown during the Mexican-American War (1846-48), and in 1855 he was promoted to Captain and placed in command of the Washington Navy Yard. In 1861 he thought it certain that Maryland would secede from the Union, and he resigned from the Navy. When it transpired that Maryland remained loyal, Buchanan tried to withdraw his resignation, but the Navy Department refused his request. Consequently in August 1861 Buchanan headed south to offer his services to the Confederacy. He was appointed Captain in September, and served in the Navy Department, masterminding the drive to create a Confederate Navy from scratch. In February 1862 he was made Flag Officer, and given command of naval forces in Virginia. His decision to use his flagship the CSS Virginia to attack the Union blockading fleet in Hampton Roads initiated the Battle of Hampton Roads. He was wounded in the action, but was rewarded by promotion to full Admiral in August. He subsequently commanded the defenses of Mobile, Alabama, and during the Battle of Mobile Bay (August 1864) his flagship was the ironclad CSS Tennessee. After the war he worked as an insurance executive in Maryland until his death.
Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones,
Executive Officer of the CSS Virginia (1821-77)
Born in Virginia, Jones entered the US Navy in 1836, and served in the Pacific before attending the Philadelphia Naval School, where he passed as midshipman in 1841. He then was posted to the Navy Department's Hydrographical Office, and he performed survey work off the Florida coast for several years. In 1853 Lieutenant Jones was assigned to the Washington Navy Yard, where he assisted John A. Dahlgren in developing a new system of smoothbore ordnance. He also served as gunnery officer on the USS Merrimac. When Virginia seceded in 1861 he resigned his commission and became a lieutenant in the Confederate Navy. He was appointed to the Merrimac during her conversion into the CSS Virginia, and Jones played a major role in preparing the ironclad for active service. During the first day of the Battle of Hampton Roads, Flag Officer Buchanan was wounded, and Jones assumed command of the Virginia in time for her duel with the USS Monitor, fighting her with skill. He continued as the Virginias Executive Officer until the vessel's destruction in May. By 1863 he had been promoted and was placed in charge of the Navy's Ordnance Works in Selma, Alabama. He settled there after the war, and became a businessman until his death in a quarrel. Jones remains the unsung hero of Hampton Roads, and historians have only recently acknowledged his true influence on the events of March 1862.
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