Up until that point, all naval battles had been waged between wooden ships. This was the first battle in maritime history that two ironclad ships waged war. To prevent the Confederate Navy from using the ship against them, the Union Navy scuttled her. The Confederates, however, raised the ship from the shallow floor of the harbor and began making some major modifications.
Accordingly, orders were sent to destroy the base rather than allow it to fall into Confederate hands. Isherwood managed to get the frigate's engines lit. However, the previous night secessionists had sunk lightboats between Craney Island and Sewell's Pointblocking the channel.
On 20 April, before evacuating the Navy Yard, the U. Navy burned Merrimack to the waterline and sank her to preclude capture. When the Confederate government took possession of the fully provisioned yard, the base's new commander, Flag Officer French Forrestcontracted on May 18 to salvage the wreck of the frigate.
This was completed by May 30, and she was towed into the shipyard's only graving docktoday known as Drydock Number Onewhere the burned structures were removed. Stephen MallorySecretary of the Navy decided to convert Merrimack into an ironcladsince she was the only large ship with intact engines available in the Chesapeake Bay area.
Portereach of whom envisaged the ship as a casemate ironclad. Brooke's general design showed the bow and stern portions submerged, and his design was the one finally selected. The detailed design work would be completed by Porter, who was a trained naval constructor.
Porter had overall responsibility for the conversion,  but Brooke was responsible for her iron plate and heavy ordnance, while William P. Williamson, Chief Engineer of the Navy, was responsible for the ship's machinery.
A new fantail and armored casemate were built atop a new main deck, and a v-shaped breakwater bulwark was added to her bow, which attached to the armored casemate.
From reports in Northern newspapers, Virginia's designers were aware of the Union plans to build an ironclad and assumed their similar ordnance would be unable to do much serious damage to such a ship.
It was decided to equip their ironclad with a raman anachronism on a 19th century warship. The salty Elizabeth River water and the addition of tons of iron armor and pig iron ballast, added to the hull's unused spaces for needed stability after her initial refloat, and to submerge her unarmored lower eves, only added to her engines' propulsion issues.
As completed, Virginia had a turning radius of about 1 mile 1. There were four gun ports on each broadside ; their protective iron shutters remained uninstalled during both days of the Battle of Hampton Roads. The other two were 6. Virginia's commanding officer, Flag Officer Franklin Buchananarrived to take command only a few days before her first sortie; the ironclad was placed in commission and equipped by her executive officerLieutenant Catesby ap Roger Jones.
Despite an all-out effort to complete her, the new ironclad still had workmen on board when she sailed into Hampton Roads with her flotilla of five CSN support ships: As Cumberland began to sink, the port side half of Virginia's iron ram was broken off, causing a bow leak in the ironclad.
Seeing what had happened to Cumberland, the captain of USS Congress ordered his frigate into shallower water, where she soon grounded.
Congress and Virginia traded cannon fire for an hour, after which the badly-damaged Congress finally surrendered. While the surviving crewmen of Congress were being ferried off the ship, a Union battery on the north shore opened fire on Virginia.
Outraged at such a breach of war protocol, in retaliation Virginia's now angry captain, Commodore Franklin Buchanan, gave the order to open fire with hot-shot on the surrendered Congress as he rushed to Virginia's exposed upper casemate deck, where he was injured by enemy rifle fire.
Congress, now set ablaze by the retaliatory shelling, burned for many hours into the night, a symbol of Confederate naval power and a costly wake-up call for the all-wood Union blockading squadron. Virginia did not emerge from the battle unscathed, however. Her hanging port side anchor was lost after ramming Cumberland; the bow was leaking from the loss of the ram's port side half; shot from Cumberland, Congress, and the shore-based Union batteries had riddled her smokestack, reducing her boilers' draft and already slow speed; two of her broadside cannon without shutters were put out of commission by shell hits; a number of her armor plates had been loosened; both of Virginia's foot 6.
Even so, the now injured Buchanan ordered an attack on USS Minnesotawhich had run aground on a sandbar trying to escape Virginia. However, because of the ironclad's foot 6. It being late in the day, Virginia retired from the conflict with the expectation of returning the next day and completing the destruction of the remaining Union blockaders.
She had been rushed to Hampton Roadsstill not quite complete, all the way from the Brooklyn Navy Yardin hopes of defending the force of wooden ships and preventing "the rebel monster" from further threatening the Union's blockading fleet and nearby cities, like Washington, D.
While under tow, she nearly foundered twice during heavy storms on her voyage south, arriving in Hampton Roads by the bright firelight from the still-burning triumph of Virginia's first day of handiwork. The next day, on March 9,the world's first battle between ironclads took place. The smaller, nimbler, and faster Monitor was able to outmaneuver the larger, slower Virginia, but neither ship proved able to do any severe damage to the other, despite numerous shell hits by both combatants, many fired at virtually point-blank range.
Monitor had a much lower freeboard and only its single, rotating, two-cannon gun turret and forward pilothouse sitting above her deck, and thus was much harder to hit with Virginia's heavy cannon.
After hours of shell exchanges, Monitor finally retreated into shallower water after a direct shell hit to her armored pilothouse forced her away from the conflict to assess the damage.The map below shows the site of the battle of Hampton Roads and depicts the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (labeled as the Merrimack), along with other ships in the area.
Close up of map showing the Hampton Roads area and depicting the March 9, battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack).
Mar 08, · Watch video · The March 9, , battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack (CSS Virginia) during the American Civil War () was history’s first duel between ironclad warships.
Construction started Thursday on the first of the Navy’s new class of fleet replenishment oiler, the future USNS John Lewis.
The CSS Virginia: Sink Before Surrender (Civil War Series) [John V. Quarstein] on attheheels.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. When the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) slowly steamed down the Elizabeth River toward Hampton Roads on March 8, Ironclad: The Epic Battle, Calamitous Loss and Historic Recovery of the USS Monitor [Paul Clancy] on attheheels.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.
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