Information about other ships involved in the Battle of the Ironclads


Confederate Ships


ScTug: t. 85 (80); l. 86'; b. 17'5"; dph. 6'11"; a. 1 gun

CSS BEAUFORT, built at Wilmington, Del., in 1854, as CALEDONIA was put in commission at Norfolk, Va., on 9 July 186; by Lt. R. C. Duvall, North Carolina Navy, and sailed immediately for New Bern, N.C. While en route she engaged the large steamer ALBATROSS, in an inconclusive battle off Oregon Inlet.

After North Carolina seceded, BEAUFORT was turned over to the Confederate States Navy and on 9 September Lt. W. H. Parker CSN, was placed in command. Thereafter she participated in the battles of Roanoke Island on 7-8 February 1862, and Elizabeth City, N.C., 2 days later. Escaping via the Dismal Swamp Canal to Norfolk, she was tender to CSS VIRGINIA (ex-MERRIMACK) off Hampton Roads, Va., on 8-9 March 1862. The Confederate Congress tendered thanks to the officers and crew for their gallantry during the action.

From May 1862, BEAUFORT operated on the James River, her commander in November 1863 being Lt. W. Sharp, CSN. She served until the evacuation of Richmond 3 April 1865 when she was taken into the United States Navy. She was sold 15 September 1865.


StGbt: t. 65; a. 1 to 4 guns, variously

CSS RALEIGH was originally a small, iron-hulled propeller-driven towing steamer operating on the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. She was taken over by the State of North Carolina in May 1861 and transferred to the Confederate States the following July. Her commanding officer during 1861-62 was Lt. J. W. Alexander, CSN. Her entire service was in coastal waters of North Carolina and Virginia and in the James River.

RALEIGH supported Forts Hatteras and Clark on 28-29 August 1861; took part in an expedition on 1 October to capture United States Army steamer FANNY with valuable stores on board; and accompanied CSS SEA BIRD when she reconnoitered Pamlico Sound 20 January 1862. She was also active in defense of Roanoke Island, N.C., against an amphibious assault by overwhelming Federal forces on 7-8 February 1862 at Elizabeth City N.C., 2 days later. Thence RALEIGH escaped through Dismal Swamp Canal to Norfolk, Va.

On 8-9 March 1862 RALEIGH was tender to CSS VIRGINIA during the historic battle of ironclads at Hampton Roads, for which she received the thanks of the Confederate Congress.

With the Federal recapture of Norfolk Navy Yard in May 1862, Raleigh steamed up the James River but thereafter a shortage of crew members restricted her to flag-of-truce or patrol service.

RALEIGH, renamed ROANOKE near the end of the war was destroyed by the Confederates on 4 April 1866 upon the evacuation of Richmond.


SwStr: t. 1,300; l. 250'; b. 34'; dph. 17'; a. 2 guns

JAMESTOWN, originally a passenger steamer, was built at New York, N.Y., in 1853, and seized at Richmond, Va., in 1861 for the Commonwealth of Virginia Navy She was commissioned by the Confederate Navy the following July, renamed THOMAS JEFFERSON but was generally referred to as JAMESTOWN.

Brigantine-rigged JAMESTOWN was designed and constructed by the well known William H. Webb for the New York and Old Dominion Line as a sister to YORKTOWN (v. PATRICK HENRY).

With Lt. J. N. Barney, CSN, in command she was actively employed until the end of her career in May 1862. Her service was highlighted by the battle of Hampton Roads on 8-9 March 1862 during which she assisted CSS VIRGINIA in attacking CONGRESS and CUMBERLAND and stood by during the battle between MONITOR and VIRGINIA. The Confederate Congress tendered special thanks to the officers and crew of JAMESTOWN for their "gallant conduct and bearing" in combat.

Some 4 weeks later, on 11 April 1862, JAMESTOWN, CSS VIRGINIA, and five other Confederate ships sailed from Norfolk into Hampton Roads in full view of the Union squadron there. When it became clear that the Federal ships were not going to attack JAMESTOWN covered by VIRGINIA and the others, moved in, captured three merchant ships, and helped by CSS RALEIGH towed them to Norfolk. Later that month JAMESTOWN was dispatched from Norfolk to cooperate with Major General Magruder, CSA, in the James River and early in May she was used to transport army sick and wounded to Richmond.

On the night of 5 May, JAMESTOWN and CSS PATRICK HENRY proceeded to Norfolk and returned the following night with CSS RICHMOND, CSS HAMPTON and ordnance store boats, passing the Federal battery at Newport News unobserved on both occasions. A second attempt to return to Norfolk met with failure.

On 8 May JAMESTOWN was ordered to notify the Secretary of the Confederate States Navy of the continuing engagement of two Federal gunboats and ironclad GALENA with the Confederate batteries at Day's Point. Unable to carry out her assignment JAMESTOWN retired up the James River as far as Drewry's Bluff where on 15 May 1862 she was sunk to obstruct the channel.


ScTug: t. 64; l. 80'; b. 18'; dph. 7'; a. 1 32-pdr. r., 1 12-pdr. r.

CSS TEASER had been the aging Georgetown, D.C., tug YORK RIVER built at Philadelphia. Purchased at Richmond by the State of Virginia in 1861, she was assigned to the naval forces in the James River with Lt. J. H. Rochelle, Virginia State Navy, in command. Upon the secession of that State TEASER became a part of the Confederate Navy and continued to operate in Virginia waters. With Lt. W. A. Webb, CSN, in command, she took an active part in the battle of Hampton Roads, Va., on 8-9 March 1862, acting as tender to CSS VIRGINIA. She received the thanks of the Congress of the Confederate States for this action.

TEASER was a pioneer "aircraft carrier" (balloon ship); she also became a pioneer minelayer when ordered 17 June to assist Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Under Lt. H. Davidson, CSN, she was used by the Confederate Naval Submarine Battery Service to plant and service "torpedoes" (mines) in the James River. While engaging MARATANZA at Haxall's on the James 4 July 1862, a Union shell blew up TEASER's boiler and forced her crew to abandon ship. When seized by MARATANZA, TEASER was carrying on board a balloon for aerial reconnaissance of Union positions at City Point and Harrison's Landing. TEASER was taken into the Federal Navy, and sold at Washington, D.C. on 24 June 1865.


SwTtug: t. 78; a. 2 32-pdr. r.

CSS HARMONY, a small steam tug built at Philadelphia, Pa., in 1859, was placed under exclusive control of A. B. Fairfax, Confederate Inspector General of Naval Ordnance at Norfolk Navy Yard on 24 April 1861 and was used primarily for ordnance transport throughout the war; Flag Officer Forrest, CSN, wrote in September l861, "Her services are indispensable as an ordnance transportation boat."

On 30 August 1861 Commander Fairfax took command, armed her with a rifled gun and attacked sloop-of- war SAVANNAH, riding at anchor off Newport News. HARMONY inflicted considerable damage on SAVANNAH who was unable to train her guns effectively upon her attacker.


SwStr: t. 1,300; l. 250'; b. 34'; dph. 17'; dr. 13'; cpl. 150; a. 1 10" sb.; 1 64-pdr., 6 8", 2 32-pdr. r.

CSS PATRICK HENRY, sometimes referred to as PATRICK was the former side- wheel passenger and freight steamer YORKTOWN which ran between Richmond, Va., and New York. When Virginia seceded from the Union on 17 April 1861 YORKTOWN, then in the James River was seized by that State and subsequently turned over to the Confederate Navy.

Brigantine-rigged YORKTOWN was built at New York City by the renowned William H. Webb in 1859 for the New York & Old Dominion S.S. Line; the Webb plans of her are still extant.

Commander J. R. Tucker, CSN, who commanded the newly organized James River Squadron, directed that YORKTOWN be converted into a lightly protected ship-of-war and renamed PATRICK HENRY. She was assigned to a position near Mulberry Island in the James to protect the right flank of the Confederate Peninsula Army, and during the following months remained vigilant against possible attack by Federal vessels from Newport News.

On 13 September 1861 and again on 2 December, Commander Tucker took PATRICK HENRY down the river to a point about a mile and a half above Newport News and opened fire on the Federal squadron at long range hoping to draw out some of the gunboats. The lure was refused, but Tucker inflicted some minor damage.

During the battle of Hampton Roads, Va., on 8 March 1862 when ironclad VIRGINIA inflicted such damage on the Union fleet, PATRICK HENRY approached CONGRESS, run aground and flying a white flag, but she herself came under fire from other Federal ships and shore batteries, a shot through her steam chest killing four of her crew. Towed out of action long enough to make repairs, she resumed her former position.

In the engagement between CSS VIRGINIA and MONITOR the following day, PATRICK HENRY fired long range at MONITOR maneuvering against VIRGINIA. The Confederate Congress later accorded special thanks to all officers and men for their gallant conduct during the 2-day battle.

After the surrender of Norfolk on 10 May 1862, the James River Squadron retired up the river to Drewry's Bluff where pursuing Federal ships were repulsed on 15 May. In October 1863 PATRICK HENRY housed the floating Confederate States Naval Academy at Drewry's Bluff, where instruction for 52 midshipmen began under the superintendency of Lt. W. H. Parker, CSN. She had been designated as academy ship in May 1862 and had undergone alterations to this end. She was burned by the Confederates when Richmond was evacuated 3 April 1865.

Union Ships


From: DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN NAVAL FIGHTING SHIPS, James L. Mooney, ed., Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy, Washington, DC., 1969

tonnage. 987 displacement. 11'4" length 172' beam. 41'6" draft. 10'6" complement. 47 armament. 2 11" Dahlgren smoothbores class. MONITOR

The prime contract for construction of MONITOR was awarded to her designer John Ericsson 4 October 1861, Construction of her hull was subcontracted to the Continental Iron works at Green Point, Long Island; fabrication of her engines was delegated to Delamater & Co., New York City; and the building of her turret, composed of eight layers of 1-inch iron plates, was assigned to the Novelty Iron Works, also of New York City. The revolutionary craft was launched 30 January 1862; and commissioned 25 February, Lt. John L. Worden in command.

The ironclad departed New York Navy Yard 27 February 1862, but steering failure caused her to return. On 6 March, she again departed New York Navy Yard towed by SETH LOW, and headed for the Virginia Capes.

As Monitor approached Cape Henry on the afternoon of 8 March, CSS VIRGINIA (See DANFS II, p. 579) the former U.S. steam frigate MERRIMACK, now rebuilt as an ironclad ram, steamed out of the Elizabeth River into Hampton Roads and attacked the wooden hulled Union warships blockading Norfolk. Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan, the dreaded ram's commander, singled out sailing sloop CUMBERLAND as his first victim.

She opened the engagement when less than a mile distant from CUMBERLAND and the firing became general from blockaders and shore batteries; but most shots from the Union guns glanced harmlessly off the Confederate ironclad's slanted sides. VIRGINIA rammed CUMBERLAND below the waterline and she sank rapidly, "gallantly fighting her guns," Buchanan reported in tribute to a brave foe, "as long as they were above water. " Buchanan next turned VIRGINIA's fury on CONGRESS, hard aground, and set her ablaze with hot shot and incendiary shell. She also damaged MINNESOTA before retiring to Sewell's Point for the night.

MONITOR's crew could hear the roar of cannon as they rounded Cape Henry into Chesapeake Bay and headed toward the scene of battle, but all was quiet when she hove to alongside ROANOKE. Captain Morston directed Worden to assist battered MINNESOTA, hard aground off Newport News.

At dawn, VIRGINIA again emerged and headed toward MINNESOTA to administer the coup de grace. MONITOR steamed out of the MINNESOTA's shadow to intercept the Confederate ironclad ram. A Confederate officer on CSS PATRICK HENRY, one of VIRGINIA's paddle wheel consorts, described the Union challenger as "an immense shingle

floating on the water with a gigantic cheese box rising from its center; no sails, no wheels, no smokestack, no guns." But the bizarre federal vessel soon won the respect of friend and foe alike. For 4 hours she fought her dreaded adversary to a standstill, in a battle which revolutionized naval warfare while protecting the Federal blockade of the southern coast from its most serious challenge.

In the weeks that followed, MONITOR remained alert in Hampton Roads ready to renew the engagement, should VIRGINIA venture forth. The southern ram did make a brief appearance off Sewell's Point 11 April, but strategic considerations on both sides prevented a return engagement between the two vessels. Early in May, while General McClellen pushed through Yorktown and up the peninsula toward Richmond, the South withdrew from Norfolk and the southern bank of the James, and retired toward the Confederate capital. VIRGINIA, too deep of draft to reach Richmond, was set afire 11 May and blew up.

MONITOR, reinforced by ironclads GALENA and NAUGATUCK, steamed up the James to gather information for McClellen and to strengthen the Union Army's left flank. However, when they reached Drury's Bluff 8 miles below the southern Capital 15 May, their progress was stopped by obstructions across the channel. Grayclad riflemen fired on the Union ships from both shores and heavy naval guns mounted high on the cliff shelled them from an angle which minimized the effectiveness of their armor. MONITOR after moving up to protect riddled GALENA, was unable to elevate her guns to hit the shore batteries, so retreated downstream.

Although checked in their thrust toward Richmond, the Union ships continued to provide McClellan with invaluable support. After his defeat by General Lee in the 7 days campaign, their guns saved the Army of the Potomac from annihilation.

At midsummer, MONITOR helped corer the Union Army as it retired from the peninsula to shift operations back to northern Virginia. Thereafter, she performed blockade duty In Hampton Roads until ordered on Christmas Eve to proceed to North Carolina for operations against Wilmington. Towed by RHODE ISLAND, she departed the Virginia Capes 29 December for Beaufort, but the historic warship foundered in a storm off Cape Hatteras shortly after midnight 31 December. Four officers and 12 men went down with MONITOR. Her hulk has never been located. [She has since be discovered. A check of popular journals will provide more details. LWJ]


IrcScStr: t. 738; l. 210í; b. 36í; dph. 12í 8î; dr. 11í; s. 8k.; cpl. 164; a. (1862) 4 9î, 2 100-pdrs.

The first GALENA was launched 14 February 1862 by C. S. and H. L. Bushnell, Mystic, Conn.; and commissioned 21 April 1862, Comdr. Alfred Taylor in command.

GALENA, one of the first three ironclads, each of a different design, built by the Union Navy during the Civil War, was towed from New York to arrive off Fortress Monroe, Va., 24 April and join Flag Officer L. M. Goldsboroughís North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Comdr. John Rodgers relieved Comdr. Taylor the same day.

GALENA cleared her decks for action 4 and 7 May when dreaded Confederate ironclad VIRGINIA briefly appeared. On 8 May GALENA stood up the James River with gunboats PORT ROYAL and AROOSTOOK in an attempt to reach Richmond and compel its surrender. They silenced an

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11-gun Confederate battery at Rock Wharf that morning; and in the early afternoon, stoutly engaged a 12-gun battery on Mother Tynes' Bluff silencing all but one Or the Confederate guns. GALENA engaged this remaining gun until the two gunboats had safely passed and left then with the Confederate battery in flames.

After the feared VIRGINIA was destroyed, MONITOR and NAUGATUCK joined the expedition at James Island on 12 May and on the 13th the force steamed across Harrison's Bar to City Point, where GALENA stopped two steamers for evidence of contraband. She opened fire the following morning to scatter Confederate sharpshooters waiting in ambush along the river banks. On 15 May she stood up river leading the expedition to Drewry's Bluff, about 8 miles from Richmond. GALENA was hit twice as she swung to bear her broadside guns on a Confederate battery. She nearly silenced the battery before her shells were expended, but then the Confederate guns opened upon her with terrible effect. Numerous hits perforated her iron-clad sides with 12 killed and 15 wounded.

She returned down river to City Point. The following days were spent in shelling Confederate soldiers along the river banks and destroying City Point buildings in which Confederates were entrenched. On 27 June 1862 Galena bombarded City Point while two boats went ashore with a landing force which set fire to the depots. That same day General McClellan came on board GALENA to make a reconnaissance for the position of a new camp which was subsequently established near Harrison's Landing. On 30 June 1862 Major General McClellan was compelled to withdraw down the James and escaped disaster through naval gunfire support and transportation.

On 6 July 1862 Commodore Charles Wilkes was ordered to command the James River Flotilla, GALENA included, as an independent division of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron. With gunboats of the flotilla, GALENA afforded protection to the daily movement of Army transports and supply ships along the James River from Harrison's Bay to the mouth of the Chickahominy, giving the indispensable protection that left the Confederate troops without ability to move effectively against McClellan's Army of the Potomac along the James River.

GALENA was detached from the James River Flotilla in September 1862 and assigned picket duty at Hampton Roads and Newport News until 21 May 1863 when she arrived at Philadelphia and was decommissioned for repairs. Her ineffective iron plating which had been so badly shattered in the action at Drewry's Bluff was stripped off; and she was overhauled to operated as a wooden-hulled ship.

Recommissioned 15 February 1864, GALENA stood down the river on the 18th for the Gulf of Mexico. Becoming icebound at New Castle, Del., she was towed out to sea by an ice boat, then developed leaks which forced her to put in at Norfolk. She then proceeded to Baltimore for repairs. GALENA put to sea from Norfolk on 10 May and joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron at Pensacola, Fla., on 20 May 1864 for blockade duty off Mobile, Ala., that included the shelling of Fort Morgan and firing upon various blockade runners near the fort.

GALENA was a unit of Admiral Farragut's fleet in the Battle of Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Passing through the narrow channel under heavy fire from Forts Morgan and Gaines, Galena, lashed to the port side of ONEIDA suffered seven hits and one man killed before she entered Mobile Bay for a gallant fleet action of about 3 hours that left 165 Union dead and 170 wounded while the Confederate losses were 12 killed and 20 wounded. Union monitor TECUMSEH was destroyed by torpedo in the channel and Confederate ram TENNESSEE and gunboat SELMA fell into Union hands. GALENA used her power to pass both herself and ONEIDA beyond range of the fort's fire when the latter had her starboard boiler put out of commission by a shell hit. Admiral Farragut wrote concerning the battle: "Notwithstanding the loss of life, particularly to this ship (HARTFORD), and the terrible disaster to the TECUMSEH, the result of the fight was a glorious victory, and I have reason to feel proud of the officers, seamen, and marine of the squadron under my command."

GALENA provided supporting bombardment for the capture of Fort Morgan on 23 August 1864 and departed Mobile Bay on the 31st to serve as a part of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron out of Key West, Fla. She arrived in Philadelphia from her blockade station on 4 November 1864 and was decommissioned for repair on the 22d.

GALENA was recommissioned at Philadelphia on 29 March 1865 and reached Newport News, Va., 2 April to serve the North Atlantic Squadron as a picket and patrol ship at the mouth of the Nansemond River and in the James River until her departure 5 June for Portsmouth, N.H. She was decommissioned there 17 June 1865 and remained inactive until recommissioned 9 April 1869 for movement to Hampton Roads, where she was placed out of commission 2 June. Condemned by survey in 1870, GALENA was broken up in 1872 at the Norfolk Navy Yard.


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Copyright 1997 by Mabry Tyson