C.S.S. Thomas Jefferson

Also known as the C.S.S. Jamestown



Picture of sunken Virginia II and Jamestown
James River, Va. Sunken Confederate ships Virginia (ram) and Jamestown (Source: LOC [LC-B811-3350] 459K Tiff) This is not the original CSS Virginia. Medium image

See the images at the Naval Historical Center.

The CSS Thomas Jefferson was a side-wheel steamer of 1,300 tons. Her length was 250' with a beam of 34 feet and a depth of 17 feet. She carried two guns. From the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:

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.


Unfortunately, I have not yet collected the names of the other crew. Any help would be appreciated.


[T1] Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America. 1861-1865. See bibliography

[T2] Trigg, Angela. A Romantic Adventurer Comes of Age: The Life of Daniel Trigg of Abingdon, Virginia. Master's Thesis. Georgia State University. 1997.

[T16] Sullivan, David M. The United States Marine Corps in the Civil War -- The Second Year. White Mane Publishing Company, Inc. Shippenburg, PA. 1997.

CSS Virginia
Copyright 1998-2003 by Mabry Tyson