Drewrys Bluff

Following the Confederate abandonment of the Sewell's Point batteries and the withdrawal from the Norfolk Navy Yard on May 9, 1862, a battalion of 200 US Marines under Capt Charles G.McCawley was sent to re-garrison the latter post. On May 15 the Monitor, her sister ironclad Galena, the floating battery Naugatuck and the side-wheel steamboat Port Royal probed up the James River in hopes of capturing the Confederate capital. Reaching Drewry's Bluff, about eight miles from Richmond, they encountered fire from a heavy battery and sunken vessels barring the river. Marine fought Marine on this occasion, as the riverbanks were lined with rifle pits manned by Confederate Marines. The Monitor was hit repeatedly, while the Naugatuck's Parrott gun burst. Aboard the Galena, which was also riddled, Cpl John F.Mackie, a 26-year-old native of New York City, and 12 men of the Marine Guard remained on deck firing at their counterparts on shore. When solid shot killed over a dozen seamen manning the ship's guns, Mackie and his Marine detachment replaced their fallen comrades, and served the Parrott Rifle for the remainder of the action. His braver)' earned Cpl Mackie the Medal of Honor - the first such award received by a US Marine.

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