The Patrick Henry, a side-wheel steamer of 1,300 tons, was
250' long with a beam of 34', a draft of 13', and a depth of hold of
17'. She carried a complement of 150. She had a 10" smooth bore, a 64
pounder, 6 8" guns, and 2 32-pounder rifles. From the Dictionary
of American Naval Fighting Ships:
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.
Letter, Feb. 28, 1862, requesting 100 charges for the 32-pounder rifled guns of the Patrick Henry. ORN Series I, Vol 1, p 778-779
Letter to Buchanan, March 4, 1862, indicating the Patrick Henry, Jamestown, and Teaser ready to meet him off Newport News on date indicated. ORN Series I, Vol 1, p 779-780
Papers of John Randolph Tucker and James H. Rochelle at Old Dominion University. Born 31 Jan 1812 in Alexandria, Virginia. Midshipman 1 Jun 1826. Passed Midshipman 1832. Lieutenant 20 Dec 1837. Commander 14 Sep 1855. He was Ordnance Officer at Norfolk Navy Yard when he resigned his commission. He was appointed Commander in the Virginia Navy, and then in the CSN. Commanded the Patrick Henry and the Chicora. After the war, he became a Rear-Admiral in the Peruvian Navy. In 1871, he was appointed President of the Peruvian Hydrographical Commission of the Amazon. He died 12 Jun 1883. He married Virginia Webb 7 Jun 1838 (d. 1858), with whom he had nine children.
Rochelle, James Henry. Life of Rear Admiral John Randolph Tucker, commander in the navy of the United States. Washington: The Neale publishing company, 1903. (Copy at Marshall University)
Rochelle, James H., Lieutenant:
Report, Jan. 30, 1865, regarding the services of the Patrick Henry to aid the Virginia. ORN Series I, Vol 7, pp 49-54
See this information on him and his family. He was born in Jerusalem (now Courtland), Virginia, 1 Nov 1826. He graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1848. He then served with Commodore Perry in Japan. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, he resigned his commission in the United States Navy, serving first as a leutenant and eventually as a commander. Following the Civil War, James Henry Rochelle joined his long-time commander and friend Admiral John Randolph Tucker in surveying the upper reaches of the Amazon river for the Peruvian Navy. Before his death, James Henry rochelle wrote a biography of Admiral Tucker whom he admired greatly, as well as several articles on his naval service with the Confederacy. Beginning in 1871, he was the senior member of the Hydrographic Commission of the Amazon. He died at his home on March 3, 1889, and is buried in the near-by churchyard of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Courtland.