Hampton Roads 8–9 March 1862


Map Code: Ax01598

When Virginia seceded in April 1861, departing Union defenders hastily destroyed the Gosport naval dockyard, and the ironclad USS Merrimack was left wrecked at the bottom of the harbour. The Confederates salvaged then restored her, and by March 1862, rechristened the CSS Virginia, she was ready for action. Sailing across Hampton Roads under the command of Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan she quickly rammed and sunk the wooden USS Cumberland and fired the grounded USS Congress. As darkness fell, the Virginia retired for minor repairs, and treatment for their wounded captain. The next morning, she returned to hunt down the USS Minnesota, but was intercepted by the Union’s ironclad USS Monitor. A three-hour duel ensued, with neither vessel able to inflict significant damage on the other, and the Virginia withdrew. Although this first naval clash of ironclads garnered worldwide attention, neither vessel lasted the year: the Virginia was scuttled and the Monitor sank – in a storm, not as a result of enemy action

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