previous next

Captain Franklin Buchanan, C. S. N., and Captain Josiah Tattnall, C. S. N., commanding the “Virginia” ( “Merrimac” ) It was a task of surpassing difficulty and danger that confronted Captain Buchanan when the “Virginia” shipped her anchors on March 8, 1862, and steamed down Elizabeth River to fight a fleet of the most powerful line-of-battle ships in the Federal navy, lying under the guns of formidable land batteries. The “Virginia's” trial trip was this voyage into imminent battle; not one of her guns had been fired; her crew, volunteers from the Confederate army, were strangers to one another and to their officers; they had never even had a practice drill together. The vessel lay too low in the water, and her faulty engines gave her a speed of but five knots, making maneuvering in the narrow channel exceedingly difficult. But Captain Buchanan, who had risen from a sick-bed to take his command, flinched for none of this — nor for the fact that his own brother, McKean, was paymaster on the “Congress.” It was one of the most hazardous experiments in all warfare that Captain Buchanan was about to make, and its result revolutionized the American navy. Captain Tattnall, another experienced officer of the old navy, relieved Buchanan on April 11, 1862, and diligently sought a second battle with the “Monitor,” but it was not accepted. On May 11th the “Virginia” was destroyed by Tattnall's order.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Elizabeth (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Franklin Buchanan (5)
Josiah Tattnall (3)
Merrimac (1)
W. W. McKean (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 11th, 1862 AD (1)
March 8th, 1862 AD (1)
May 11th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: