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Historic Waters of Virginia. [from the Richmond, Va., times, Dec. 30, 1891.]

The battle in Hampton Roads as viewed by an eye witness.

The achievements of the Virginia.

An interesting Paper—The improvised Confederate Naval fleet.

By Ex-Governor Wm. E. Cameron.
[See ante pp. 243-9, ‘The Ironclad Virginia.’—Ed.]

The outbreak of the war between the northern and southern sections of the United States at once invested every foot of the navigable waters of Virginia with strategic importance. The Federals retained their hold on Fortress Monroe, which, under the then existing conditions of ordnance and of naval architecture, practically controlled the entrance to Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads, while heavy batteries at Newport News, at the mouth of James river, prohibited communication by water between the Confederate forces at Richmond and Norfolk. The Confederates, on the other hand, mounted guns at Lovell's Point and Craney Island, to protect Norfolk, Portsmouth and the Gosport navy yard from hostile approach, and the passage to Richmond was obstructed against Federal marine by batteries at Fort Powhatan, Drewry's Bluff, Day's Neck, Hardin's Bluff, Mulberry Island, Jamestown and other defensible points on James river.

Such was the situation of affairs in the early spring of 1862. The Federals had, however, made previous descent upon the coast of North Carolina with a powerful armada under General Burnside, and having captured Roanoke Island, after a gallant though hopeless resistance by the combined land and naval forces of General Henry A. Wise and Commodore Lynch, were making heavy demonstrations at the back door of Norfolk, while General McClellan, having determined on a campaign against Richmond via the peninsula, between the James and York rivers, was urging naval occupation of those streams as an essential protection to the flanks of an army executing that movement.

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Henry A. Wise (1)
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