Report of Major-General Huger, C.S. Army, commanding Department
of Norfolk, on the impact of ironclad warships in warfare.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORFOLK,
Norfolk, Va., March 10, 1862.
SIR: I telegraphed yesterday to the Secretary of War the fact
of the naval engagement on the 8th and 9th instants. As the battle was fought by the navy, Flag-Officer Forrest will no doubt
report to the Navy Department the result of the engagement.
The batteries at Sewell's Point opened fire on the steamers Minnesota
and Roanoke, which attempted on the 8th to pass to Newport News to the assistance of the frigates attacked by the
Virginia. The Minnesota ran aground before reaching there. The Roanoke was struck several times, and
for some cause turned around and went back to Old Point.
The two sailing vessels (Cumberland and Congress)
were destroyed--the first sunk and the other burned by the Virginia--and on the 9th the Minnesota; still
aground, would probably have been destroyed but for the ironclad battery of the enemy called, I think, the Monitor. The
Virginia and this battery were in actual contact, without inflicting serious injury on either.
At 2 p.m. on yesterday, the 9th, all our vessels came
up to the navy yard for repairs. The Virginia, I understand, has gone into dock for repairs, which will be made
at once. This action shows the power and endurance of ironclad vessels. Cannon shot do not harm them, and they can pass batteries
or destroy large ships. A vessel like the Virginia or the Monitor, with her
two guns, can pass any of our batteries with impunity. The only means of stopping them is by vessels of the same kind. The
Virginia, being the most powerful, can stop the Monitor, but a more powerful one would run her down or
ashore. As the enemy can build such boats faster than we, they could, when so prepared, overcome any place accessible by water.
How these powerful machines are to be stopped is a problem I can not solve. At present, in the Virginia, we
have the advantage, but we can not tell how long this may last.
I remain very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General
Source: Official Records
of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Series 1, vol. 7 (Washington,
Government Printing Office, 1898): 54-55.
Reading: A History of Ironclads: The Power of Iron over Wood. Description: This
landmark book documents the dramatic history of Civil War ironclads and reveals how ironclad warships revolutionized naval
warfare. Author John V. Quarstein explores in depth the impact of ironclads during the Civil War and their colossal effect
on naval history. The Battle of Hampton Roads was one of history's greatest naval engagements. Over the course of two days
in March 1862, this Civil War conflict decided the fate of all the world's navies. It was the first battle between ironclad
warships, and the 25,000 sailors, soldiers and civilians who witnessed the battle vividly understood what history would soon
confirm: wars waged on the seas would never be the same. Continued below…
About the Author: John V. Quarstein is an award-winning author and historian. He is director
of the Virginia
War Museum in Newport News and chief historical advisor for The Mariners' Museum's new USS Monitor Center
(opened March 2007). Quarstein has authored eleven books and dozens of articles on American, military and Civil War history,
and has appeared in documentaries for PBS, BBC, The History Channel and Discovery Channel.
Recommended Reading: Civil
War Ironclads: The U.S. Navy and Industrial Mobilization (Johns Hopkins
Studies in the History of Technology). Description: "In this impressively researched and broadly conceived study, William
Roberts offers the first comprehensive study of one of the most ambitious programs in the history of naval shipbuilding, the
Union's ironclad program during the Civil War. Continued below...
Perhaps more importantly, Roberts also provides an invaluable framework for understanding and analyzing
military-industrial relations, an insightful commentary on the military acquisition process, and a cautionary tale on the
perils of the pursuit of perfection and personal recognition." - Robert Angevine, Journal of Military History "Roberts's study,
illuminating on many fronts, is a welcome addition to our understanding of the Union's industrial mobilization during the
Civil War and its inadvertent effects on the postwar U.S. Navy." - William M. McBride, Technology and Culture"
Recommended Viewing: The First
Ironclads - Into the Modern Era (DVD) (2008). Description: This is the story of the great vessels, the formidable warships,
the epic ironclads (early battleships), that changed forever naval ship design as well as naval warfare: the Monitor, the
(later renamed the Virginia) and it presents a fascinating
animated reconstruction of their epic battle during the American Civil War. Continued below...
The Battle of Hampton Roads, aka Duel of the Ironclads, which made the world's navies tremble as well as
obsolete, is handsomely depicted in this video. The First Ironclads – Into the Modern Era is a welcome addition for
the individual interested in the Civil War, U.S. Naval Warfare, and shipbuilding and design. It also includes footage from
aboard the world's most devastating “sailing ironship” the HMS Warrior.
Reading: Iron Afloat: The Story of the Confederate Armorclads. Description: William N. Still's book is rightfully referred to as the standard of Confederate Naval history.
Accurate and objective accounts of the major and even minor engagements with Union forces are combined with extensive background
information. This edition has an enlarged section of historical drawings and sketches. Mr. Still explains the political background
that gave rise to the Confederate Ironclad program and his research is impeccable. An exhaustive literature listing rounds
out this excellent book. While strictly scientific, the inclusion of historical eyewitness accounts and the always fluent
style make this book a joy to read. This book is a great starting point.
Reading: Civil War Navies, 1855-1883 (The
U.S. Navy Warship Series) (Hardcover).
Description: Civil War Warships, 1855-1883 is the second in the five-volume US Navy Warships encyclopedia set. This valuable
reference lists the ships of the U.S. Navy and Confederate Navy during the Civil War and the years immediately following -
a significant period in the evolution of warships, the use of steam propulsion, and the development of ordnance. Civil War
Warships provides a wealth and variety of material not found in other books on the subject and will save the reader the effort
needed to track down information in multiple sources. Continued below…
size and time and place of construction are listed along with particulars of naval service. The author provides historical
details that include actions fought, damage sustained, prizes taken, ships sunk, and dates in and out of commission as well
as information about when the ship left the Navy, names used in other services, and its ultimate fate. 140 photographs, including
one of the Confederate cruiser Alabama recently uncovered by the author further contribute to this
indispensable volume. This definitive record of Civil War ships updates the author's previous work and will find a lasting
place among naval reference works.
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.
Reading: Naval Campaigns
of the Civil War. Description: This analysis
of naval engagements during the War Between the States presents the action from the efforts at Fort Sumter during the secession
of South Carolina in 1860, through the battles in the Gulf of Mexico, on the Mississippi River, and along the eastern seaboard,
to the final attack at Fort Fisher on the coast of North Carolina in January 1865. This work provides an understanding of
the maritime problems facing both sides at the beginning of the war, their efforts to overcome these problems, and their attempts,
both triumphant and tragic, to control the waterways of the South. The Union blockade, Confederate privateers and commerce
raiders are discussed, as is the famous battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack.
of the events in the early months preceding the outbreak of the war is presented. The chronological arrangement of the campaigns
allows for ready reference regarding a single event or an entire series of campaigns. Maps and an index are also included.
About the Author: Paul Calore, a graduate of Johnson and Wales University,
was the Operations Branch Chief with the Defense Logistics Agency of the Department of Defense before retiring. He is a supporting
member of the U.S. Civil War Center and the Civil War Preservation Trust and has also written Land Campaigns of the Civil
War (2000). He lives in Seekonk, Massachusetts.
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: Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Toll, a former financial analyst and political
speechwriter, makes an auspicious debut with this rousing, exhaustively researched history of the founding of the U.S. Navy.
The author chronicles the late 18th- and early 19th-century process of building a fleet that could project American power
beyond her shores. The ragtag Continental Navy created during the Revolution was promptly dismantled after the war, and it
wasn't until 1794—in the face of threats to U.S. shipping from England, France and the Barbary
states of North Africa—that Congress authorized the construction of six
frigates and laid the foundation for a permanent navy. Continued below…
Department of the Navy followed in 1798. The fledgling navy quickly proved its worth in the Quasi War against France
in the Caribbean, the Tripolitan War with Tripoli and the
War of 1812 against the English. In holding its own against the British, the U.S.
fleet broke the British navy's "sacred spell of invincibility," sparked a "new enthusiasm for naval power" in the U.S. and marked the maturation of the American navy. Toll
provides perspective by seamlessly incorporating the era's political and diplomatic history into his superlative single-volume
narrative—a must-read for fans of naval history and the early American