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Tag: frigate

A Submerged House: Ironclads and the Civil War

The Monitor after her fight with the Merrimac. Near the port-hole can be seen the dents made by the heavy steel-pointed shot from the guns of the Merrimac. Hampton Roads, Virginia. Stereo., 07/1862 (559269)

The original Monitor after her fight with the Virginia.To the left can be seen the dents made by the heavy steel-pointed shot from the guns of the Virginia. Hampton Roads, VA. Stereo., 07/1862 (559269; 200-CC-486)

The USS Monitor was the Navy’s first ironclad vessel, but it was not the only one in Civil War waters.

The Virginia had started life in 1855 as the Merrimack, a Union ship that had been burned to the waterline, sunk, and abandoned in the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, VA. The Confederates raised what remained of the ship and used the hull to build the ironclad Viriginia.

On March 8, 1862, Virginia made its first combat sortie, as the ship headed through Hampton Roads and fired on the Union frigates Cumberland and Congress in an attempt to break the Union blockade at Hampton Roads. According to this New York Times article, the Virginia looked like “a submerged house” with “nothing protruding above the water but a flagstaff flying the rebel flag, and a short smokestack”

But when the Cumberland fired on the Virginia, the Confederate ship proved to be far tougher than an underwater home: “the latter opened on her with heavy guns, but the balls struck and glanced off, having no more effect than peas from a pop-gun.” The Virginia rammed the wooden frigate, which … [ Read all ]