Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

McClellan’s Command

What was that first day like for the CSS Virginia?

Equipped with heavy cannon and a fifteen-foot battering ram, the CSS Virginia came out and immediately met two Union warships. Both were larger, and carried heavier ordnance, but their cannon shots literally bounced off the heavy metal of the Virginia’s sides. One Union warship was sunk by cannon fire, and the other went down to an attack by the battering ram. The battle was over in less than two hours.

Critics—then and now—have long asserted that the Virginia should have completed her task that day, annihilating all Union Navy warships in the vicinity. The captain and crew of the Virginia were astonished by their own success, however, and not a little weary from the endeavor. The Virginia returned to port that afternoon, having demonstrated that the days of the sailing navies were nearly over.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Civil War Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App