CSS Virginia Characteristics
Acquisition.--Seized by the Confederates
in 1861 at Gosport Navy Yard and converted into an ironclad.
Description.--Screw ironclad ram.
Dimensions.--Length 275'; beam, 38' 6"; depth, 27½'.
Draft.--Loaded, 22'; without coal or ballast, 19½'.
Engines.--Horizontal, back acting; two cylinders, 72" in diameter, 3' stroke.
Boilers.--4 Martin type boilers;
average steam pressure, 18 lbs.
Battery.--March 11, 1862, 10 guns; May, 1862, 2 7-inch rifle pivots, 2 6-inch rifles and
6 9-inch Dahlgrens in broadside, 2 12-pounder howitzers on deck.
Crew Size: According to the personnel
roster of the Virginia, she was manned by 160 Navy, and 28 Marines.
Disposition.--Run on shore near Craney Island
and set on fire after being abandoned; she blew up at 4.58 a.m., May 11, 1862.
Remarks.--Formerly she was the U.S.S.
Merrimack. March 8, 1862, she engaged and sunk the U.S.S. Cumberland by ramming and destroyed the Congress
by fire. March 9, 1862, engaged the U.S. vessels Monitor, Minnesota, and St. Lawrence.
|U.S. Naval Historical Center
(Picture) CSS Virginia (1862-1862). Engraving depicting the ship
in drydock at the Norfolk Navy Yard, after the installation of her armor, circa early 1862. She was then nearing completion
after conversion from the hulk of USS Merrimack (1856-1861). Courtesy of of Mrs. A.W. Hasker. U.S. Naval Historical
Source: Naval Official Records
Reading: Ironclad Down: USS Merrimack-CSS Virginia from Design to Destruction (Hardcover). Description: The result of more than fifteen years
of research, Ironclad Down is a treasure trove of detailed information about one of history s most famous vessels. Describing
the fascinating people--Stephen Russell Mallory, John Mercer Brooke, John Luke Porter, et al.--who conceived, designed and
built one of the world's first ironclads as well as describing the ship itself, Carl Park offers both the most thoroughly
detailed, in-depth analysis to date of the actual architecture of the Virginia
and a fascinating, colorful chapter of Civil War history.
Reading: The Battle of Hampton
Roads: New Perspectives on the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (Mariner's Museum). Description: On March 8 and 9, 1862, a sea battle off the Virginia coast changed naval warfare forever. It began when the Confederate States Navy’s
CSS Virginia led a task force to break the Union blockade of Hampton Roads. The Virginia
sank the USS Cumberland and forced the frigate Congress to surrender. Damaged by shore batteries, the Virginia retreated, returning the next day to find her way blocked by the newly arrived
USS Monitor. The clash of ironclads was underway. Continued below…
for nine hours, both ships withdrew, neither seriously damaged, with both sides claiming victory. Although the battle may
have been a draw and the Monitor sank in a storm later that year, this first encounter between powered, ironclad warships
spelled the end of wooden warships—and the dawn of a new navy. This book takes a new look at this historic battle. The
ten original essays, written by leading historians, explore every aspect of the battle—from the building of the warships
and life aboard these “iron coffins” to tactics, strategy, and the debates about who really won the battle of
Hampton Roads. Co-published with The Mariners’ Museum, home to the USS Monitor Center, this authoritative guide to the
military, political, technological, and cultural dimensions of this historic battle also features a portfolio of classic lithographs,
drawings, and paintings. Harold Holzer is one of the country’s leading experts on the Civil War.
Reading: Last Flag Down: The Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship. From Publishers Weekly: Thriller writer Baldwin (The Eleventh Plague et al.) joins
forces with the prolific Powers (coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers et al.) to come up with a fast-reading Civil War true adventure
saga centered a on young CSA navy lieutenant. The 24-year-old Conway Whittle, an ancestor of Baldwin's,
was assigned as first lieutenant and executive officer on the Confederate raider Shenandoah late in the war. Continued below...
The ship sailed from London disguised as a merchant vessel and underwent a memorable
cruise round the globe, attacking and destroying Yankee merchant ships and whalers. Whittle and company kept up their daring
sea raids until August of 1865, when they learned that the war had ended five months earlier. The ship returned to England, having flown the last Confederate flag at sea in
defiance of the U.S. Baldwin and Powers recount their tale in a lively, evocative style and may be forgiven for being overly
fond of their hero. Whittle, they say, "was as good a man as history seems able to produce: a warrior of courage inconceivable
to most people; a naval officer of surpassing calm and intelligence; a seeker after Christian redemption; a steadfast lover;
a student of human nature; a gentle soul; a custodian of virtue."
Reading: Confederate Ironclad 1861-65 (New Vanguard). Description: The creation of a Confederate ironclad fleet was a miracle
of ingenuity, improvisation and logistics. Surrounded by a superior enemy fleet, Confederate designers adapted existing vessels
or created new ones from the keel up with the sole purpose of breaking the naval stranglehold on the nascent country. Her
ironclads were built in remote cornfields, on small inland rivers or in naval yards within sight of the enemy. The result
was an unorthodox but remarkable collection of vessels, which were able to contest the rivers and coastal waters of the South
for five years. This title explains how these vessels worked, how they were constructed, how they were manned and how they
Reading: Naval Strategies of the Civil War: Confederate Innovations and Federal Opportunism. Description: One of the most overlooked aspects of the American Civil War is the
naval strategy played out by the U.S. Navy and the fledgling Confederate Navy, which may make this the first book to compare
and contrast the strategic concepts of the Southern Secretary of the Navy Stephen R. Mallory against his Northern counterpart,
Gideon Welles. Both men had to accomplish much and were given great latitude in achieving their goals. Mallory's vision of
seapower emphasized technological innovation and individual competence as he sought to match quality against the Union Navy's
(quantity) numerical superiority. Welles had to deal with more bureaucratic structure and to some degree a national strategy
dictated by the White House. Continued below...
The naval blockade
of the South was one of his first tasks - for which he had but few ships available - and although he followed the national
strategy, he did not limit himself to it when opportunities arose. Mallory's dedication to ironclads is well known, but he
also defined the roles of commerce raiders, submarines, and naval mines. Welles's contributions to the Union effort were rooted
in his organizational skills and his willingness to cooperate with the other military departments of his government. This
led to successes through combined army and naval units in several campaigns on and around the Mississippi River.
Reading: A History of
the Confederate Navy (Hardcover). From
Publishers Weekly: One of the most prominent European scholars of the Civil War weighs in with a provocative revisionist study
of the Confederacy's naval policies. For 27 years, University of Genoa history professor Luraghi (The Rise and Fall of the
Plantation South) explored archival and monographic sources on both sides of the Atlantic to develop a convincing argument
that the deadliest maritime threat to the South was not, as commonly thought, the Union's blockade but the North's amphibious
and river operations. Confederate Navy Secretary Stephen Mallory, the author shows, thus focused on protecting the Confederacy's
inland waterways and controlling the harbors vital for military imports. Continued below…
As a result,
to Savannah to Richmond, major
Confederate ports ultimately were captured from the land and not from the sea, despite the North's overwhelming naval strength.
Luraghi highlights the South's ingenuity in inventing and employing new technologies: the ironclad, the submarine, the torpedo.
He establishes, however, that these innovations were the brainchildren of only a few men, whose work, although brilliant,
couldn't match the resources and might of a major industrial power like the Union. Nor did
the Confederate Navy, weakened through Mallory's administrative inefficiency, compensate with an effective command system.
Enhanced by a translation that retains the verve of the original, Luraghi's study is a notable addition to Civil War maritime
history. Includes numerous photos.