Battle of Hampton Roads Essay

887 Words Dec 31st, 2012 4 Pages
Battle of Hampton Roads A decade ago naval warfare changed forever in the two-day Battle of Hampton Roads between the Elizabeth and James River. Cannon shots rang out for endless hours and those present on surrounding shores witnessed history when, for the first time, two ironclad ships entered into battle. The Confederates, protecting their naval yard just south of Hampton Roads, decided to place their undefeatable ship, the CSS Virginia, at the mouth of the river. On the first day of battle this ship was responsible for the death of 400 hundred sailors while only losing two of its own. On the second day, hearing the booms of heavy cannon fire up river the USS Monitor, on a test run, changed course and moved to defend the union. The …show more content…
Within 12 minutes of union tugs firing upon the Virginia with no effect but to dent her armor the Virginia head on rammed the sloop-of-war USS Cumberland below the water line. 150 men died aboard the Cumberland as the crew continued to fire upon the Virginia until the last cannon sunk below water. The Cumberland then turned her attention immediately to the USS Congress that had been firing upon it from behind. Seeing what had accorded to the Cumberland the captain of the Congress, Lieutenant Joseph Smith, in a last resort grounded his ship in shallow water where the Virginia could not ram them. Yet, under fire from the shell shot of the Virginia that could shed through wooden ships, the Congress surrounded within the hour badly damaged. Seeing two of the Union’s prime ships taken down in only two hours a Union battery on a Northern peninsula of Hampton Roads opened fire on the Virginia in an attempt to cripple her and save the remaining union ships that had mistakenly run aground during maneuvers in the battle. In response the Virginia fired burning cannon balls into the Congress setting her ablaze and eventually reaching her magazine where she exploded. 110 of the Congress crew died from the attack. By the end of the day the Virginia had lost two guns, two sailors and had several iron plates had loosened while she had been responsible for 400 deaths and the loss of two war ships.
On the second day occurred the encounter between the two ironclads. While the

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