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The Battle of Hampton Roads
March 8-9, 1862

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Other Names: Monitor vs. Virginia (Merrimack), Battle of the Ironclads
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Campaign: Peninsula Campaign (March-September 1862)

Principal Commanders:
Union: Lt. John Worden [US]
Confederate: Capt. Franklin Buchanan and Lt. Catesby R. Jones [CS]

Forces Engaged: 4 warships [US]; 1 warship [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 433 total (US 409; CS 24)

About the 'Merrimack':
In an attempt to reduce the North's great naval advantage, Confederate engineers converted a scuttled Union frigate, the U.S.S. Merrimack, into an iron-sided vessel re-christened the C.S.S. Virginia.

For information on the Merrimack, and the events prior to this battle, see:
Official Records of the Confederate Navy,
Naval Dispatches - September 20, 1861 to March 7, 1862

Description: On March 8, 1862, from her berth at Norfolk, the Confederate ironclad Virginia (aka the 'Merrimack') steamed into Hampton Roads where she sank the Cumberland and ran the Congress aground. As cannon shots bounce off the Virginia, she cuts through the wooden fleet, and sinks or cripples three of the U.S. Navy's most powerful warships.

On March 9, the Union ironclad Monitor having fortuitously arrived to do battle, initiated the first engagement of ironclads in history. The two ships fought each other to a standstill, and the Virginia retired.

See:
Official Records of the Confederate Navy,
Report of Flag-Officer Franklin Buchanan, C.S. Navy
, describing the battle and commending his men (by name).

U.S.S. Monitor
Deck and turret of U.S.S. Monitor
James River, VA
July 9, 1862

Sources:
National Park Service
Library of Congress
The Civil War, American Heritage (Doubleday, 1960)


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