|April, 1865--all that was left of the ironclad ram “Virginia no. 2” The Confederates had built the “Virginia no. 2” for the defense of the James River. She was commanded by Commodore R. B. Pegram, C. S. N., and was the flagship of Commodore John K. Mitchell, C. S. N., who with two other gunboats opposed the Federal fleet that was attempting to work its way up to Richmond. The pierced and battered smokestack of the “Virginia” shows how bravely she stood up to the fire of the Federal monitors and the Howlett's house batteries. The “Virginia” and her consorts were active in shelling General Butler's Dutch Gap canal. On October 22, 1864, the “Virginia” discovered a new Federal masked battery nearly two miles below Chaffin's Bluff. With her consorts she stood up for two hours against the fire of the 100-pounder Parrott rifles on the shore, at a range of 500 yards. On the night of January 23, 1865, Commodore Mitchell of the “Virginia” and his fleet attempted to pass below the Federal obstructions in the river, but both the “Virginia” and the “Richmond” grounded and were exposed all the next day to a ruinous fire from the Federal batteries and gunboats. One 15-inch solid shot tore a terrific hole in the “Virginia,” killing six and wounding fourteen of her crew. The tide at last floated her and the “Richmond.” Nothing daunted, she again led the fleet down the river in a night expedition. The squadron reached Point of Rocks and was discovered by the Federals who, training a calcium light upon the channel, poured a terrific fire from their batteries. The “Virginia's” pilot was driven from the wheel-house. The Confederate gunboats retired. As the Federal lines were drawn more closely around Petersburg and Richmond, the “Virginia” at last was sunk with other vessels in the channel of the James as an obstruction to navigation.|
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