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[165] and the service rendered by this floating battery considered, the only wonder must be that so much was so well done under the circumstances.

Her armament consisted of ten guns, four single-banded Brooke rifles, and six nine-inch Dahlgren shell-guns. Two of the rifles, bow and stern pivots, were seven inch; the other two were six and four-tenths inch, one on each broadside. The nine-inch gun on each side, nearest the furnaces, was fitted for firing hot shot. The work of construction was prosecuted with all haste, the armament and crew were put on board, and the vessel started on her trial trip as soon as the workmen were discharged. She was our first ironclad; her model was an experiment, and many doubted its success. Her commander, Captain (afterward Admiral) Franklin Buchanan, with the wisdom of age and experience of sea service from his boyhood, combined the daring and enterprise of youth, and with him was Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones, who had been specially in charge of the battery, and otherwise thoroughly acquainted with the ship. His high qualifications as an ordnance officer were well known in the ‘old navy,’ and he was soon to exhibit a like ability as a seaman in battle.

Now the first Confederate ironclad was afloat, the Stars and Bars were given to the breeze, and she was rechristened the Virginia. She was joined by the Patrick Henry, six guns, Commander John R. Tucker; the Jamestown, two guns, Lieutenant-commanding John N. Barney; the Beaufort, one gun, Lieutenant-commanding W. H. Parker; the Raleigh, one gun, Lieutenant-commanding J. W. Alexander; the Teaser, one gun, Lieutenant-commanding W. A. Webb.

The enemy's fleet in Hampton Roads consisted of the Cumberland, twenty-four guns; Congress, fifty guns; St. Lawrence, fifty guns; steam frigates Minnesota and Roanoke, forty guns each. The relative force was as twenty-one guns to two hundred four, not counting the small steamers of the enemy, though they had heavier armament than the small vessels of our fleet, which have been enumerated. The Cumberland and the Congress lay off Newport News; the other vessels were anchored about nine miles eastward, near Fortress Monroe. Strong shore batteries and several small steamers, armed with heavy rifled guns, protected the frigates Cumberland and Congress.

Buchanan no doubt felt the inspiration of a sailor when his vessel bears him from the land, and the excitement of a hero at the prospect of battle, and thus we may understand why the trial trip was at once converted into a determined attack upon the enemy. After the plan of the Virginia had been decided upon, the work of her construction was

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Franklin Buchanan (2)
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