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Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., Chapter 35: operations of the North Atlantic Squadron, 1863. (search)
itself in the way of those who are determined to pursue and overtake it in spite of all obstacles. The proof of this was demonstrated in the case of Lieutenants Lamson and Cushing, two daring young fellows, who lost no opportunity of bringing their names before the Navy Department, and who were as well known in the Navy as the most successful commanders of fleets. A great many of the vessels of the North Atlantic squadron were employed in the blockade of the coast from the mouth of the Chesapeake to below Cape Fear shoals. The Cape Fear River had (since the complete blockade of Charleston) become the principal ground for blockade-runners, that river having two entrances, by either of which blockade-runners could enter, protected by Fort Caswell on the south side of Cape Fear, and by strong earth-works (which finally grew to be Fort Fisher) on the north side. Many reports are made of the capture or destruction of blockade-runners, and in chasing up these vessels great activity w
pears in Hampton Roads, attended by five small vessels. As soon as she is discerned, a large fleet of transports and sailing-vessels in the upper roads scuds away to a place of safety, like a flock of tame villatic fowl that seeks a sheltering covert when the hawk is seen in the air. Aided by her attendant spirits, she captures three sailing-vessels under the eye of our own fleet, among which was the Monitor herself. After this, the Merrimac slowly moves to and fro across the mouth of Elizabeth River, seemingly inviting a champion to come out and try conclusions with her; but her defiance is not accepted, and she retires with her prizes, unmolested. To make the sting of our mortification a little sharper, all this was done under the bows of two foreign frigates,--one French and one English. Thus, the destruction of two frigates and the capture of three small vessels make up the list of the Merrimac's material triumphs and trophies; but these were by no means all the services she
hwith to act upon the assumption that the vote of the Convention was conclusive, and the State already definitively and absolutely out of the Union. Within twenty-four hours after the vote of the Convention to secede, and while that vote was still covered by an injunction of secrecy, they had set on foot expeditions for the capture of the Federal Arsenal, arms and munitions, at Harper's Ferry, as also for that of the Norfolk Navy Yard. So early as the night of the 16th, the channel of Elizabeth River, leading up from Hampton Roads to Norfolk, was partially obstructed in their interest by sinking two small vessels therein, with intent to preclude the passage, either way, of Federal ships of war. The number appears to have been increased during the following nights; while a hastily collected military force, under Gen. Taliaferro--a Virginia brigadier who reached Norfolk from Richmond on the 18th--was reported to be preparing to seize the Navy Yard and Federal vessels during the night
as armed with 10 heavy and most effective guns; and so, having been largely refitted from the spoils of the deserted Navy Yard, became at once the cheapest and most formidable naval engine of destruction that the world had ever seen. Whether she had or had not the ability to live in an open, turbulent sea, was left undecided by her brief but memorable career. A little before noon, on Saturday, March 8th, a strange craft was descried from our vessels off Newport News, coming down the Elizabeth river from Norfolk, past Craney Island, attended by two unremarkable steam gunboats. Two other Rebel gunboats, which had, evidently by preconcert, dropped down the James from Richmond, had been discovered at anchor off Smithfield Point, some 12 miles distant, about three hours before. The nondescript and her tenders gradually approached our war-ships awaiting her, and, passing across the bow of the Congress frigate, bore down on the Cumberland, in utter disdain of her rapid and well aimed b
Benjamnin F. Butler, Butler's Book: Autobiography and Personal Reminiscences of Major-General Benjamin Butler, Chapter 5: Baltimore and Fortress Monroe. (search)
be reached by land; 3d, The same in respect to the enemy's batteries at or about Craney Island, though requiring water craft; and 4th, To menace and recapture the navy-yard at Gosport, in order to complete its destruction, with its contents, except what it may be practical to bring away in safety. These instructions effectually precluded anything like reaching the enemy, as Norfolk, thirteen miles away, could be approached only by water. The entrance to the port of Norfolk through Elizabeth River was well covered by forts and batteries. Meanwhile, before the New York regiments arrived, myself and staff proceeded to inspect the pine forest. It was about two miles from the fort, on a narrow strip of land next to the beach, and between the sea and Miller's River, and could not possibly have been made a camp-ground for two thousand men. It was a part of the land ceded by Virginia to the United States. Upon inspection, I saw an objection to it as a camp-ground, which I chose to
Torpedoes and Submarine batteries.--We are happy to be informed that, among the other defences of the Elizabeth and Nansemond rivers, are these admirable contrivances for giving an unexpected hoist to an invading fleet. In one place, we are informed, the work is of a character that would damage seriously the largest squadron that ever floated on the waters. It is also said that the same contrivances either have been or are about to be arranged at various places along the coast. The batteries around Norfolk are in tip-top condition, and any demonstration upon that point will be met in a manner that will make the eyes of the next generation of Virginians sparkle with delight when they open that illumined page of her history.--Richmond Dispatch, May 17.
Rebellion Record: a Diary of American Events: Documents and Narratives, Volume 4. (ed. Frank Moore), Doc. 82.-fight in Hampton roads, Va., March 8th and 9th, 1862. (search)
sterday morning, at nine A. M., I discovered two steamers at anchor off Smithfield Point, on the left-hand or western side of the river, distant about twelve miles. At twelve meridian I discovered three vessels under steam, standing down the Elizabeth river toward Sewall's Point. I beat to quarters, double-breeched the guns on the main deck, and cleared ship for action. At one P. M. the enemy hove in sight, gradually nearing us. The iron-clad steamer Merrimac, accompanied by two steam gunbog between the two iron-clad vessels, the high cliffs at Newport News and vicinity were crowded with spectators, earnestly watching the progress of the fight. Baltimore American account. The Merrimac made her appearance, coming out from Elizabeth River about noon on Saturday. She stood directly across the roads toward Newport News. As soon as she was made out and her direction ascertained, the crews were beat to quarters on both the Cumberland and Congress, and preparations made for what
tered. The forests of masts between the Fortress and Sewell's Point disappeared, and the broad, open expanse of water bore on its surface only the rebel fleet, and two French and one English men-of-war, which, with steam up, still maintained their position. Half-past 8 o'clock.--For the last hour the manoeuvres of the rebel fleet have apparently been directed toward decoying our fleet up toward Sewall's Point. When the Merrimac first appeared, she stood directly across the mouth of Elizabeth River, followed by her consorts, as if they were bound to Newport News. The Merrimac approached the English sloop-of-war, and after apparently communicating with her, fell slowly around, and moved back toward her consorts in the rear. The English and French vessels then moved up, as if they had been informed that the Lower Roads were to be the scene of conflict and they had been warned to get out of the range. For an hour the rebel fleet kept changing position, without making any decided a
s up, and takes the lead of the San Jacinto and Seminole. There was no return from either of the rebel forts, and the Dacotah and Monitor are steaming up the Elizabeth River, the Naugatuck laying off towards the mouth of James River. 12.30 o'clock.--The Dacotah and Monitor are moving up abreast, and are approaching Craney Islanry, and the fleet have also thrown a number of shell in the same direction. 2.15 o'clock.--The Monitor and the Dacotah are moving along again slowly up the Elizabeth River, and a dense black smoke has commenced to rise from Sewell's Point, indicating that some of the incendiary shells thrown have fired their barracks. The Dacotck to their anchorage ground. The Dacotah wheels around, and again proceeds up towards the Merrimac, and the Monitor also stands off towards the mouth of the Elizabeth River. The Dacotah is now within easy range of Sewell's Point, the batteries of which do not open on her. She and the Monitor have both stopped, and the Merrimac i
of the engineer bureau. Brigadier-General Danville Leadbetter Major-General J. F. Gilmer Brigadier-General Walter H. Stevens The moment that the Norfolk Navy-Yard was evacuated, the erection and armament of batteries along the Elizabeth River was begun to prevent its recapture; and thus Virginia came into possession of a thoroughly equipped navy-yard, at which the Merrimac, some time later, was converted into the ironclad Virginia, and the guns needed for the speedy armament of batteries for the defense not only of the Elizabeth, James, and York rivers, but also against attacks on Norfolk and Richmond by other lines of approach, were obtained. Subsequently, the Virginia Corps of Engineers was merged into that of the Confederate States; and the cost of completing the defenses begun by the State of Virginia was borne by the Confederate Government. Very few of the officers in the Confederate corps had any previous practice as military engineers, although some of the
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