Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

Battle For New Orleans

Could the Union Navy have captured Richmond as it had already done to New Orleans?

There was an excellent chance of this happening. In May 1862, the Union Navy was practically unopposed on the lower James River. But on May 15, a federal squadron attacked Drewry’s Bluff and ran into the first real setback in some time.

The USS Monitor, which had won such applause in its battle against the CSS Virginia, was accompanied by the USS Galena. Technically, these two ships had the firepower necessary to reduce the Confederate battery at Drewry’s Bluff, but the guns on the Monitor were unable to be elevated properly. In a three-and-a-half-hour battle, the USS Galena was hit no fewer than forty-four times. The Federals gave up the attack by noon, having suffered fourteen men killed and another ten injured. The casualty figures were small, but the moral effect for the Confederacy was very great. Clearly, the Union Navy could not subdue Richmond. The Army of the Potomac would have to do its work.


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