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[139]

Inadequate armor-deck of the “Galena” after her great fight The “Galena” early proved incapable of the work for which she had been planned. It was the belief that her armor would enable her to stand up against the powerful land-batteries of the Confederates. This the “New Ironsides” could do; her sixteen guns could pour in such a hail of missiles that it was difficult for cannoneers on land to stand to their posts. The “Galena,” with but six guns, found this condition exactly reversed, and on May 15, 1862, she was found wanting in the attack on Fort Darling, at Drewry's Bluff, the Federal navy's first attempt to reach Richmond. There, under Commander John Rodgers, she came into direct competition with Ericsson's “Monitor.” Both vessels were rated in the same class, and their tonnage was nearly equal. The engagement lasted three hours and twenty minutes. The two ironclads, anchored within six hundred yards of the fort, sprung their broadsides upon it, eight guns in all against fourteen. In the action the “Galena” lost thirteen men killed and eleven wounded. A single 10-inch shot broke through her armor and shattered her hull almost beyond repair. The “Monitor” remained entirely uninjured, without the loss of a single man. After the engagement the “Galena” was found to be so cut up that her armor plate was removed and she was converted into a wooden gunboat, thus continuing in service through the war.

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May 15th, 1862 AD (1)
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