Hampton Roads, VA

 

Date(s): March 8-9, 1862

Location: Please click on link below for map.

Hampton Roads (bay), Virginia, United States

Campaign(s): Peninsula Campaign [March-September 1862]

Battles in Campaign:

Situation:

Commanders:

  • Union: John L. Worden

  • Confederate: Captain Franklin Buchanan and Catesby R. Jones 

Principal Forces:

  • Union: 1 ironclad and 3 wooden warships

  • Confederate: 1 ironclad,2 wooden warships, 1 gunboat, and 2 tenders

Description:

  • The battle began when the CSS Virginia steamed into Hampton Roads on the morning of March 8th and began trying to break the Union blockade.

  • The Virginia, commanded by Captain Franklin Buchanan, was supported by Raleigh and Beaufort, and accompanied by Patrick Henry, Jamestown, and Teaser.

  • The Virginia headed for the Union squadron and rammed and sunk the USS Cumberland.

  • Buchanan next turned the Virginia on USS Congress, but seeing what had happened to Cumberland, the captain of Congress ordered his ship grounded in shallow water.
  • By this time, the James River Squadron, commanded by John Randolph Tucker, had arrived and joined the Virginia in its attack on the Congress and forced her to surrender.

  • While the surviving crewmen of Congress were being ferried off the ship, a Union battery on the north shore opened fire on Virginia and in retaliation, the Virginia fired on the Congress with red-hot shot and incendiary shell which caused her to explode.

  • Meanwhile, the James River Squadron had turned its attention to the USS Minnesota which had left Fort Monroe to join in the battle and had run aground.

  • At the end of day the Virginia left planning to return the following day and complete the destruction of the Union fleet.

  • After being repaired, Virginia returned on March 9th to finish off the grounded Minnesota.

  • The way was blocked by the newly arrived Monitor, which the commander of the rebel ship later described as "little more than a cheese box on a raft".

  • After hours of close range fighting , neither ship could defeat  the other.
  • The smaller and nimbler Monitor was able to outmaneuver the Virginia, but neither ship was able to significantly damage  the other.

  • Finally, the Virginia retreated, leaving the Monitor and the rest of the Union fleet in possession of the "battlefield".

  • Strategically, Virginia was unable to dislodge the Union blockade, and so while the tactical battle was inconclusive, the strategic balance remained in the Union's favor.

Photo Gallery:2

Ironclad Revolution

Ericcson's Design for the Monitor

Replica of USS Monitor

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor's Turret

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor

Replica of the Monitor Deck

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor

Why "Monitor"?

Reproduction of the Inside of the Monitor's Turret

Reproduction of the Inside of the Monitor's Turret

Design of the Dahlgrens

Reproduction of the Outside of the Monitor's Turret

Replica of Gear System Used to Turn Monitor's Turret

Replica of Coal Storage Area

Replica of the Monitor's Interior

Replica of the Monitor's Interior

Replica of the Monitor's Interior

Paymaster's Cabin

Replica of the Monitor's Interior

Replica of the Monitor's Interior

Outfitting the C.S.S. Virginia

Outfitting the C.S.S. Virginia

Outfitting the C.S.S. Virginia

Outfitting the C.S.S. Virginia

Outfitting the C.S.S. Virginia

Outfitting the C.S.S. Virginia

Outfitting the C.S.S. Virginia

Description of the CSS Virginia's Sinking of the USS Congress and USS Cumberland

Newport News Point

 

Slide Presentation: None

Classification3: B

Casualties4:

  • Union: 2 wooden warships sunk, 1 wooden warship damaged, 261 killed and 108 wounded

  • Confederate: 1 ironclad damaged, 7 killed and 17 wounded

Results: Inconclusive

Battlefield Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Virginia Tourism

Recommended Resources:


1 National Park Service summary.

2 Please click on the image to enlarge it. You may copy the images if you include the following note and link with each image: "Courtesy of civil-war-journeys.org."

3 Classification:

  • A - having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war

  • B - having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign

  • C - having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign

  • D - having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives

4 Casualties are someone killed, injured, wounded, captured or missing.

Revised 03/29/2013