Report of the Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States, transmitting official reports of Lieutenant Jones and Surgeon Phillips, C. S. Navy.
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,
Navy Department, Richmond, March 11, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to lay before you the official report of the naval engagement between the James River Squadron, under the command of Flag-Officer Franklin Buchanan, and the enemy's fleet in Hampton Roads on the 8th instant.
Flag. Officer Buchanan, in the immediate command of the steam sloop Virginia, was disabled near the close of the engagement by a painful, though not dangerous, wound, and the report is made by the executive officer upon whom the command devolved--Lieutenant Jones.
The steam sloop Virginia, of 10 guns; the Patrick Henry, Commander Tucker, of 6 guns; the Jamestown, Lieutenant Commanding Barney, of 2 guns; the Raleigh, Lieutenant Commanding Alexander; the Beaufort, Lieutenant Commanding Parker, and the Teaser, Lieutenant Commanding Webb, each of I gun, composed our squadron. With this force of 21 guns, Flag-Officer Buchanan engaged the enemy's fleet, consisting of the frigates Cumberland, of 24 guns; the Congress, of 50 guns; the St. Lawrence, of 50 guns, and the steam frigates Minnesota and Roanoke, each of 40 guns, the enemy's batteries at :Newport :News, and several small steamers armed with heavy rifled guns.
The engagement commenced at 3:30 p.m., and at 6 o'clock p.m. he had sunk the Cumberland, captured and burned the Congress, disabled and driven the Minnesota ashore, and defeated the St. Lawrence and Roanoke, which sought shelter under the guns of Fortress Monroe. Two of the enemy's small steamers were blown up and two transport steamers were captured.
The Cumberland went down with all on board, her tops only remaining above water, but many of her people were saved by boats from the shore.
The loss of the enemy has not been ascertained. Our loss is very small, but has not been officially communicated.
The flag of the Congress and the sword of the officer commanding at the time of her surrender are at this Department, together with the flag and sword of the gunboat Fanny, captured by Flag-Officer Lynch in October last; and I submit for your consideration the propriety of providing for the safe-keeping of these and similar trophies.
To the dashing courage, the patriotism, and eminent ability of Flag-Officer Buchanan and the officers and men of his squadron our country is indebted for this brilliant achievement, which will hold a conspicuous place among the heroic contests of naval history.
With much respect, your obedient servant,
S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
To the PRESIDENT.
C. S. STEAM BATTERY VIRGINIA,
Off Sewell's Point, March 8, 1862.
FLAG-OFFICER: In consequence of the wound of Flag. Officer Buchanan it becomes my duty to report that the Virginia left the yard this morning at 11 a.m., steamed down the river past our batteries and over to Newport News, where we engaged the frigates Cumberland, Congress, and the batteries ashore, and also two large steam frigates, supposed to be the Minnesota and Roanoke, and a sailing frigate and several small steamers armed with heavy rifled guns. We sank the Cumberland, drove the Congress ashore, where she hauled down her colors and hoisted the white flag, but she fired upon us with the white flag flying, wounding Lieutenant Minor and some of our men. We again opened fire upon her and she is now in flames. The shoal water prevented our reaching the other frigates. This, with approaching night, we think saved them from destruction. Our loss is 2 killed and 8 wounded, two of our guns have the muzzle shot off. The prow was twisted and the armor somewhat damaged; the anchors and all flagstaffs shot away and smokestack and steam pipe were riddled. The bearing of officers and men was all that could be wished, and in fact it could not have been otherwise after the noble and daring conduct of the flag-officer, whose wound is deeply regretted by all on board, who would gladly have sacrificed themselves in order to save him. We were accompanied from the yard by the Beaufort (Lieutenant Parker) and Raleigh (Lieutenant Alexander), and as soon as it was discovered up the James River that the action had commenced we were joined by the Patrick Henry (Commander Tucker), the Jamestown (Lieutenant Barney), and the Teaser (Lieutenant Webb), all of which were actively engaged and rendered very efficient service. Enclosed I send the surgeon's report of casualties.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CATESBY AP R. JONES,
Executive and Ordnance Officer.
Flag-Officer F. FORREST.
C. S. S. VIRGINIA,
Near Sewell's Point, March 8, 1862.
SIR: I have to report the following casualties resulting from the action of to-day:
Flag-Officer F. Buchanan wounded in the left thigh, a Minié ball having passed entirely through the fleshy portion, grazing femoral artery and inflicting a serious wound.
Lieutenant R. [D.] Minor wounded in left side (not dangerously). Midshipman Marmaduke, slight wound of arm.
Two men killed (names not known) and 5 men wounded, one losing an eye.
D. B. PHILLIPS,
Surgeon of Flagship.
Lieutenant CATESBY AP ROGER JONES, C. S. Navy.
Killed.--Charles Dunbar. ---- Waldeck.
Wounded.--William Burkes, seaman; John Capps, Co. E, Forty-first Regiment; A. J. Dalton, Company E, Forty-first Regiment; Emerson Ivas, seaman; John Leonard, seaman.
Message of the President of the Confederate States, transmitting to Congress the report of Flag-Officer Buchanan, C. S. Navy.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, April 10, 1862.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate States:
I herewith transmit to Congress a communication from the Secretary of the Navy, covering a "detailed report of Flag-Officer Buchanan of the brilliant triumph of his squadron over the vastly superior forces of the enemy in Hampton Roads on the 8th and 9th of March last."
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,
Navy Department, Richmond, April 7, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith copy of the detailed report of Flag-Officer Buchanan of the brilliant triumph of his squadron over the vastly superior forces of the enemy in Hampton Roads on the 8th and 9th of March last, a brief report by Lieutenant Jones of the battle of the 8th having been previously made.
The conduct of the officers and men of the squadron in this contest reflects unfading honor upon themselves and upon the Navy. The report will be read with deep interest and its details will not fail to rouse the ardor and nerve the arms of our gallant seamen.
It will be remembered that the Virginia was a novelty in naval architecture, wholly unlike any ship that ever floated; that her heaviest guns were equal novelties in ordnance; that her motive power and her obedience to her helm were untried, and her officers and crew strangers comparatively to the ship and to each other; and yet, under all these disadvantages, the dashing courage and consummate professional ability of Flag-Officer Buchanan and his associates achieved the most remarkable victory which naval annals record.
When the flag-officer was disabled, the command of the Virginia devolved upon her executive and ordnance officer, Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones, and the cool and masterly manner in which he fought the ship in her encounter with the ironclad Monitor justified the high estimate which the country places on his professional merit.
To his experience, skill, and untiring industry as her ordnance and executive officer the terrible effect of her fire was greatly due. Her battery was determined in accordance with his suggestions, and in all investigations and tests which resulted in its thorough efficiency he was zealously engaged.
The terms of commendation used by the flag-officer in characterizing the conduct of his officers and men meet the cordial endorsement of the Department, and the concurrent testimony of thousands who witnessed the engagement places his own conduct above all praise.
With much respect, your obedient servant,
S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
To the PRESIDENT.
Norfolk, March 27, 1862.
SIR: Having been confined to my bed in this building since the 9th instant, in consequence of a wound received in the action of the previous day, I have not had it in my power at an earlier date to prepare the official report, which I now have the honor to submit, of the proceedings on the 8th and 9th instant, of the James River Squadron under my command, composed of the following-named vessels: Steamer Virginia, flagship, 10 guns; steamer Patrick Henry, 12 guns, Commander John R. Tucker; steamer Jamestown, Lieutenant Commanding J. S. Barney, 2 guns; and gunboats Teaser, Lieutenant Commanding W. A. Webb, Beaufort, Lieutenant Commanding W. H. Parker, and Raleigh, Lieutenant Commanding J. W. Alexander, each 1 gun; total, 27 guns.
On the 8th instant, at 11 a.m., the Virginia left navy yard, Norfolk, accompanied by the Raleigh and Beaufort, and proceeded to Newport News to engage the enemy's frigates Cumberland and Congress, gunboats, and shore batteries. When within less than a mile of the Cumberland, the Virginia commenced the engagement with that ship with her bow gun, and the action soon became general, the Cumberland, Congress, gunboats, and shore batteries concentrating upon us their heavy fire, which was returned with great spirit and determination. The Virginia stood rapidly on toward the Cumberland, which ship I had determined to sink with our prow, if possible. In about fifteen minutes after the action commenced we ran into her on starboard bow; the crash below the water was distinctly heard, and she commenced sinking, gallantly fighting her guns as long as they were above water. She went down with her colors flying. During this time the shore batteries, Congress, and gunboats kept up their heavy concentrated fire upon us, doing us some injury. Our guns, however, were not idle; their fire was very destructive to the shore batteries and vessels, and we were gallantly sustained by the rest of the squadron.
Just after the Cumberland sunk, that gallant officer, Commander John R. Tucker, was seen standing down James River under full steam, accompanied by the Jamestown and Teaser. They all came nobly into action, and were soon exposed to the heavy fire of shore batteries. Their escape was miraculous, as they were under a galling fire of solid shot, shell, grape, and canister, a number of which passed through the vessels without doing any serious injury, except to the Patrick Henry, through whose boiler a shot passed, scalding to death four persons and wounding others. Lieutenant Commanding Barney promptly obeyed a signal to tow her out of the action. As soon as damages were repaired the Patrick Henry returned to her station and continued to perform good service during the remainder of that day and the following.
Having sunk the Cumberland, I turned our attention to the Congress. We were some time in getting our proper position, in consequence of the shoalness of the water and the great difficulty of managing the ship when in or near the mud. To succeed in my object I was obliged to run the ship a short distance above the batteries on James River, in order to wind her. During all the time her keel was in the mud; of course she moved slowly. Thus we were subjected twice to the heavy guns of all the batteries in passing up and down the river, but it could not be avoided. We silenced several of the batteries and did much injury on shore. A large transport steamer alongside of the wharf was blown up, one schooner sunk, and another captured and sent to Norfolk. The loss of life on shore we have no means of ascertaining.
While the Virginia was thus engaged in getting her position for attacking the Congress, the prisoners state it was believed on board that ship that we had hauled off; the men left their guns and gave three cheers. They were soon sadly undeceived, for a few minutes after we opened upon her again, she having run on shore in shoal water. The carnage, havoc, and dismay caused by our fire compelled them to haul down their colors and to hoist a white flag at their gaff and half-mast another at the main. The crew instantly took to their boats and landed. Our fire immediately ceased, and a signal was made for the Beaufort to come within hail. I then ordered Lieutenant Commanding Parker to take possession of the Congress, secure the officers as prisoners, allow the crew to land, and burn the ship. He ran alongside, received her flag and surrender from Commander William Smith and Lieutenant Pendergrast, with the side arms of those officers. They delivered themselves as prisoners of war on board the Beaufort, and afterward were permitted, at their own request, to return to the Congress to assist in removing the wounded to the Beaufort. They never returned, and I submit to the decision of the Department whether they are not our prisoners. While the Beaufort and Raleigh were alongside the Congress, and the surrender of that vessel had been received from the commander, she having two white flags flying hoisted by her own people, a heavy fire was opened upon them from the shore and from the Congress, killing some valuable officers and men. Under this fire the steamers left; the Congress, but as I was not informed that any injury had been sustained by those vessels at that time, Lieutenant Commanding Parker having failed to report to me, I took it for granted that my order to him to burn her had been executed, and waited some minutes to see the smoke ascending her hatches. During this delay we were still subjected to the heavy fire from the batteries, which was always promptly returned.
The steam frigates Minnesota and Roanoke and the sailing frigate St. Lawrence had previously been reported as coming from Old Point, but as I was determined that the Congress should not again fall into the hands of the enemy, I remarked to that gallant officer Flag-Lieutenant Minor, "That ship must be burned." He promptly volunteered to take a boat and burn her, and the Teaser, Lieutenant Commanding Webb, was ordered to cover the boat. Lieutenant Minor had scarcely reached within 50 yards of the Congress when a deadly fire was opened upon him, wounding him severely and several of his men. On witnessing this vile treachery, I instantly recalled the boat and ordered the Congress destroyed by hot shot and incendiary shell. About this period I was disabled and transferred the command of the ship to that gallant, intelligent officer, Lieutenant Catesby Jones, with orders to fight her as long as the men could stand to their guns.
The ships from Old Point opened their fire upon us. The Minnesota grounded in the north channel, where, unfortunately, the shoalness of the channel prevented our near approach. We continued, however, to fire upon her until the pilots declared that it was no longer safe to remain in that position, and we accordingly returned by the south channel (the middle ground being necessarily between the Virginia and Minnesota, and St. Lawrence and the Roanoke having retreated under the guns of Old Point), and again had an opportunity of opening upon the Minnesota, receiving her heavy fire in return, and shortly afterwards upon the St. Lawrence, from which vessel we also received several broadsides. It had by this time become dark and we soon after anchored off Sewell's Point. The rest of the squadron followed our movements, with the exception of the Beaufort, Lieutenant Commanding Parker, who proceeded to Norfolk with the wounded and prisoners as soon as he had left the Congress, without reporting to me. The Congress, having been set on fire by our hot shot and incendiary shell, continued to burn, her loaded guns being successively discharged as the flames reached them, until a few minutes past midnight, when her magazine exploded with a tremendous report.
The facts above stated as having occurred after I had placed the ship in charge of Lieutenant Jones were reported to me by that officer.
At an early hour next morning (the 9th), upon the urgent solicitations of the surgeons, Lieutenant Minor and myself were very reluctantly taken on shore. The accommodations for the proper treatment of wounded persons on board the Virginia are exceedingly limited, Lieutenant Minor and myself occupying the only space that could be used for that purpose, which was in my cabin. I therefore consented to our being landed on Sewell's Point, thinking that the room on board vacated by us could be used for those who might be wounded in the renewal of the action. In the course of the day Lieutenant Minor and myself were sent in a steamer to the hospital at Norfolk.
The following is an extract from the report of Lieutenant Jones of the proceedings of the Virginia on the 9th:
At daylight on the 9th we saw that the Minnesota was still ashore, and that there was an iron battery near her. At 8 [o'clock] we ran down to engage them (having previously sent the killed and wounded out of the ship), firing at the Minnesota and occasionally at the iron battery. The pilots did not place us as near as they expected. The great length and draft of the ship rendered it exceedingly difficult to work her. We ran ashore about a mile from the frigate and were backing fifteen minutes before we got off. We continued to fire at the Minnesota, and blew up a steamer alongside of her, and we also engaged the Monitor, sometimes at very close quarters. We once succeeded in running into her, and twice silenced her fire. The pilots declaring that we could get no nearer the Minnesota, and believing her to be entirely disabled, and the Monitor having to run into shoal water, which prevented our doing her any further injury, we ceased firing at 12 [o'clock] and proceeded to Norfolk.
Our loss is 2 killed and 19 wounded. The stem is twisted and the ship leaks. We have lost the prow, starboard anchor, and all the boats. The armor is somewhat damaged; the steam pipe and smokestack both riddled; the muzzles of two of the guns shot away. It was not easy to keep a flag flying. The flagstaffs were repeatedly shot away. The colors were hoisted to the smokestack and several times cut down from it.
The bearing of the men was all that could be desired; their enthusiasm could scarcely be restrained. During the action they cheered again and again. Their coolness and skill were the more remarkable from the fact that the great majority of them were under fire for the first time. They were strangers to each other and to the officers, and had but a few days' instruction in the management of the great guns. To the skill and example of the officers is this result in no small degree attributable.
Having thus given a full report of the actions on the 8th and 9th, I feel it due to the gallant officers who so nobly sustained the honor of the flag and country on those days to express my appreciation of their conduct.
To that brave and intelligent officer Lieutenant Catesby Jones, the executive and ordnance officer of the Virginia, I am greatly indebted for the success achieved. His constant attention to his duties in the equipment of the ship; his intelligence in the instruction of ordnance to the crew, as proved by the accuracy and effect of their fire, some of the guns having been personally directed by him; his tact and management in the government of raw recruits; his general knowledge of the executive duties of a man-of-war, together with his high-toned bearing, were all eminently conspicuous, and had their fruits in the admirable efficiency of the Virginia. If conduct such as his (and I do not know that I have used adequate language in describing it) entitles an officer to promotion, I see in the case of Lieutenant Jones one in all respects worthy of it. As flag-officer I am entitled to someone to perform the duties of flag-captain, and I should be proud to have Lieutenant Jones ordered to the Virginia as lieutenant-commandant, if it be not the intention of the Department to bestow upon him a higher rank.
Lieutenant Simms fully sustained his well-earned reputation. He fired the first gun, and when the command devolved upon Lieutenant Jones in consequence of my disability, he was ordered to perform the duties of executive officer. Lieutenant Jones has expressed to me his satisfaction in having had the services of so experienced, energetic, and zealous an officer.
Lieutenant Davidson fought his guns with great precision. The muzzle of one of them was soon shot away. He continued, however, to fire it, though the woodwork around the port became ignited at each discharge. His buoyant and cheerful bearing and voice were contagious and inspiring.
Lieutenant Wood handled his pivot gun admirably, and the executive officer testifies to his valuable suggestions during the action. His zeal and industry in drilling the crew contributed materially to our success.
Lieutenant Eggleston served his hot shot and shell with judgment and effect, and his bearing was deliberate, and exerted a happy influence on his division.
Lieutenant Butt fought his gun with activity, and during the action was gay and smiling.
The Marine Corps was well represented by Captain Thom, whose tranquil mien gave evidence that the hottest fire was no novelty to him. One of his guns was served effectively and creditably by a detachment of the United Artillery of Norfolk under the command of Captain Kevill. The muzzle of their gun was struck by a shell from the enemy, which broke off a piece of the gun, but they continued to fire as if it was uninjured.
Midshipmen Foute, Marmaduke, Littlepage, Craig, and Long rendered valuable services. Their conduct would have been creditable to older heads, and gave great promise of future usefulness. Midshipman Marmaduke, though receiving several painful wounds early in the action, manfully fought his gun until the close. He is now at the hospital.
Paymaster Semple volunteered for any service, and was assigned to the command of the powder division, an important and complicated duty, which could not have been better performed.
Surgeon Phillips and Assistant Surgeon Garnett were prompt and attentive in the discharge of their duties. Their kind and considerate care of the wounded and the skill and ability displayed in the treatment won for them the esteem and gratitude of all who came under their charge, and justly entitled them to the confidence of officers and crew. I beg leave to call the attention of the Department to the case of Doctor Garnett. He stands deservedly high in his profession, is at the head of the list of assistant surgeons, and, there being a vacancy in consequence of the recent death of Surgeon Blacknall, I should be much gratified if Doctor Garnett could be promoted to it.
The engines and machinery, upon which so much depended, performed much better than was expected. This is due to the intelligence, experience, and coolness of Acting Chief Engineer Ramsay. His efforts were ably seconded by his assistants, Tynan, Campbell, Herring, Jack, and White. As Mr. Ramsay is only acting chief engineer, I respectfully recommend his promotion to the rank of chief, and would also ask that Second Assistant Engineer Campbell may be promoted to first assistant, he having performed the duties of that grade during the engagement.
The forward officers--Boatswain Hasker, Gunner Oliver, and Carpenter Lindsay--discharged well all the duties required of them. The boatswain had charge of a gun and fought it well. The gunner was indefatigable in his efforts. His experience and exertions as a gunner have contributed very materially to the efficiency of the battery.
Acting Master Parrish was assisted in piloting the ship by Pilots Wright, Williams, Clark, and Cunningham. They were necessarily much exposed.
It is now due that I should mention my personal staff. To that gallant young officer Flag-Lieutenant Minor I am much indebted for his promptness in the execution of signals; for renewing the flagstaffs when shot away, being thereby greatly exposed; for his watchfulness in keeping the Confederate flag up; his alacrity in conveying my orders to the different divisions, and for his general cool and gallant bearing.
My aid, Acting Midshipman Rootes, of the Navy; Lieutenant Forrest, of the Army, who served as a volunteer aid, and my clerk, Mr. Arthur Sinclair, jr., are entitled to my thanks for the activity with which my orders were conveyed to the different parts of the ship. During the hottest of the fight they were always at their posts, giving evidence of their coolness. Having referred to the good conduct of the officers in the flagship immediately under my notice, I come now to a no less pleasing task when I attempt to mark my approbation of the bearing of those serving in the other vessels of the squadron.
Commander John R. Tucker, of the Patrick Henry, and Lieutenant Commanding J. N. Barney, of the Jamestown, and W. A. Webb, of the Teaser, deserve great praise for their gallant conduct throughout the engagement. Their judgment in selecting their positions for attacking the enemy was good; their constant fire was destructive, and contributed much to the success of the day. The general order under which the squadron went into action required that, in the absence of all signals, each commanding officer was to exercise his own judgment and discretion in doing all the damage he could to the enemy, and to sink before surrendering. From the bearing of those officers on the 8th, I am fully satisfied that that order would have been carried out.
Commander Tucker speaks highly of all under him, and desires particularly to notice that Lieutenant-Colonel Callender St. George Noland, commanding the post at Mulberry Island, on hearing of the deficiency in the complement of the Patrick Henry, promptly offered the services of 10 of his men as volunteers for the occasion, one of whom, George E. Webb, of the Greenville Guards, Commander Tucker regrets to say, was killed.
Lieutenant Commanding Barney reports every officer and man on board of the ship performed his whole duty, evincing a courage and fearlessness worthy of the cause for which we are fighting.
Lieutenant Commanding Webb specially notices the coolness displayed by Acting Master Face and Third Assistant Engineer Quinn when facing the heavy fire of artillery and musketry from the shore whilst the Teaser was standing in to cover the boat in which, as previously stated, Lieutenant Minor had gone to burn the Congress. Several of his men were badly wounded.
The Raleigh, early in the action, had her gun carriage disabled, which compelled her to withdraw. As soon as he had repaired damages as well as he could, Lieutenant Commanding Alexander resumed his position in the line. He sustained himself gallantly during the remainder of the day, and speaks highly of all under his command. That evening he was ordered to Norfolk for repairs.
The Beaufort, Lieutenant Commanding Parker, was in close contact with the enemy frequently during the day and all on board behaved gallantly. Lieutenant Commanding Parker expresses his warmest thanks to his officers and men for their coolness. Acting Midshipman Foreman, who accompanied him as volunteer aid, Midshipmen Mallory and Newton, Captain's Clerk Bain, and Mr. Gray, pilot, are all specially mentioned by him.
On the 21st instant I forwarded to the Department correct lists of the casualties on board all the vessels of the squadron on the 8th; none, it appears, occurred on the 9th.
While in the act of closing this report I received the communication of the Department, dated 22d instant, relieving me temporarily of the command of the squadron for the naval defenses of James River. I feel honored in being relieved by the gallant Flag-Officer Tattnall.
I much regret that I am not now in a condition to resume my command, but trust that I shall soon be restored to health, when I shall be ready for any duty that may be assigned to me.
Hon. S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
Letter from Lieutenant Rochelle, C. S. Navy, to Flag-Officer Tucker, C. S. Navy, giving an account of the services of the C. S. S. Patrick Henry and the part borne by her in the engagement in Hampton Roads, Virginia, March 8 and 9, 1862.
C. S. S. PALMETTO STATE,
Charleston, S. C., January 30, 1865.
DEAR SIR: I am glad to learn from you that Flag-Officer Lynch has been directed by the Department to prepare a narrative of the memorable and gallant deeds of the Confederate Navy. Judging from the former works of the flag-officer, I think we may congratulate ourselves that the Navy has fallen into good hands, and feel confidence that the proposed book will not only be a valuable contribution to the history of this giant war, but also a pleasant addition to the literature of the day. Hitherto there has been no effort made to popularize the Navy; our officers, trained in an illustrious and exclusive service, have looked with a feeling akin to contempt on both the praise and blame of the periodical press; hence the only records of the Navy are to be found in dry and terse official dispatches, exceedingly uninteresting to unprofessional readers and unintelligible to the great mass of the people. Let us hope that the forthcoming work will be popular with the people, remove many of the prejudices against our service, and assist the present generation to the just conclusion that the willows of the Navy are as glorious as the laurels of the Army.
Among the naval events that Flag Officer Lynch will be called upon to relate, the career of the Patrick Henry will perhaps claim a prominent place, and if you think there is anything in this letter which will aid the flag-officer to a fuller understanding of the services of that vessel, you are quite at liberty to send it to him.
The Patrick Henry, a very beautifully modeled side-wheel steamer, of about 1,400 tons burden, was called the Yorktown before the war, and was one of the line of steamers running between Richmond and New York. She was considered a very fast boat and deserved her reputation. When the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union this vessel was fortunately in James River. She was seized by the State, and the governor and council determined to fit her out as a man-of-war. She was taken up to the wharf at Rocketts, a suburb of Richmond, and the command conferred upon Commander John Randolph Tucker, an officer of the U. S. Navy who had resigned his commission in that service in consequence of the secession of his native State, Virginia. Naval Constructor Joseph Pierce, with a number of mechanics from the Norfolk navy yard, commenced the necessary alterations, and in a few months the passenger steamer Yorktown was converted into the very creditable man-of-war steamer Patrick Henry, of ten guns and 150 officers and men.
The vessel, being properly equipped, proceeded down James River and took a position off Mulberry Island, on which point rested the right of our Army of the Peninsula, under Magruder. It was dull work lying at anchor. The officers rarely went on shore, the vessel being kept always with banked fires and prepared to repel an attack, which might have been made at any moment, the enemy's batteries at Newport News and the guard vessels stationed there, the Congress, Cumberland, and several gunboats, being plainly in sight. After awhile the monotony became so irksome that Commander Tucker took the Patrick Henry down within long range of the Federal squadron and opened on them, with the hope of inducing a gunboat to ascend the river and engage vessel to vessel. The challenge was not accepted, however, and the enemy having moored a field battery of rifled guns up the banks of the river, and taken a secure position from which they opened an annoying fire, the vessel was steamed slowly back to her station off Mulberry Island. The Northern papers stated that in this little affair, which took place on September 13,(*) 1861, the fire of the Patrick Henry did considerable damage to the frigate Congress.
About this time intelligence was received that one or two of the Federal gunboats came up the river every night on picket duty, and anchored about a mile and a half above their squadron. Here was a chance; so on the night of' the 1st December, 1861, the Patrick Henry again went down the river, keeping a sharp lookout for the expected picket boats. Not a sign of a vessel was seen, and when day broke there was the enemy's squadron and batteries looming up against the dawn, with all the gunboats quietly at anchor around the larger vessels. As the Patrick Henry could not have returned unseen, and as the enemy had five gunboats at hand which might be induced by an impudent attack to come out from under the guns of their batteries and engage at close quarters, Commander Tucker laid the broadside of his vessel to the foe and opened with all the battery. The Federals were evidently taken by surprise, and it was some minutes before they replied to the fire. They soon got to their guns, however, and the sun, as it rose, was greeted with a roar of artillery that shook the windows in Norfolk and roused the people of that then gay city from their slumbers at a most inconvenient hour, after the fatigues of the last night's ball.
The Federal fire was well directed, and one officer and several men were wounded on board the "Pat." One gunboat in particular, commanded by a Georgian, Lieutenant H. K. Davenport, was noted for the precision with which she used her rifled guns. The old sailing master of the Patrick Henry, a seaman of sixty winters, was much pleased with the manner in which Davenport used his guns. He said to someone standing near him: "Look at that dirty, ugly-looking craft yonder. Well, whenever you see a puff of smoke go up from her, look out, for as sure as you are born there will be a blue pigeon about." The skirmish having continued for an hour or more, and the enemy still keeping under the guns of his batteries, the Patrick Henry returned to her usual anchorage.
In February, 1862, the ladies of Charles City, a county bordering on the James, desired to present to the Patrick Henry a flag which they had made for her as an evidence of their confidence in the vessel and their appreciation of the services she had rendered them by keeping marauding expeditions from ascending the river to pillage and perhaps destroy the famous old country seats that are to be found on its banks. But the flag was destined never to be presented. Such stirring times were at hand that the few hours necessary for the ceremony could not be spared. The ironclad Virginia was about to make an attack upon the Federal fortifications and squadron at Newport News, and the Patrick Henry was to participate in the battle. The day before the attack was to be made the Patrick Henry was moved down to Day's Neck and an anchorage taken from which any vessel coming out from Norfolk could be seen. The next day, the 8th of March, 1862, was bright, placid, beauteous. All eyes were watching for the appearance of the Virginia. About I o'clock in the afternoon she came steaming out from behind Craney Island, attended by her satellites, the gunboats Beaufort and Raleigh. Grand, and strong, and confident, a Hercules of the waters, she moved straight upon the enemy.
It was not necessary to call "All hands up anchor" on board the Patrick Henry. The anchor was raised with a run, and under a full head of steam the vessel sped on her way to aid her powerful friend. The Confederate vessels in James River formed in line ahead as they approached the batteries at Newport News, the Patrick Henry, 10 [guns], Commander Tucker, leading; next came the Jamestown, 2 [guns], Lieutenant Barney, and next the Teaser, 2 [guns], Lieutenant Webb. The Virginia reached the scene of action first. Amid the iron hail which fell harmlessly on her armor she ran into and sunk the Cumberland. A hearty cheer from the James River vessels greeted her success, but there was no time to give up to exultation. The long lines of the Newport News batteries were close at hand, and in order to reach the naval combat it was necessary to pass them. The guns of the Patrick Henry were elevated for a range of 800 yards, that being the distance at which the pilots expected to pass the batteries. And now the hush which precedes the shock of battle settled alike on Federal and Confederate. Glimpses could be caught of the men at their guns through the embrasures of the enemy's batteries, but not a sound came from them. As the Patrick Henry ranged up abreast of the first battery she delivered her fire, and the flash from her guns had hardly vanished when the Federal works were wrapped in smoke and their projectiles came hissing through the air. The first shots from the Patrick Henry went over the batteries, her guns having been elevated for a range of 800 yards; consequently she was passing the batteries at less than that distance, and to this circumstance is to be attributed her not having been sunk or disabled by them. The enemy supposed she would pass as far from them as the channel would allow and had elevated their guns for that range. The vessel passing closer than they thought she would, their shot for the most part passed over her. She was struck, however, several times during the passage. One shot passed through the crew of No. 3 gun, wounding two men and killing one. Poor fellow, he was an humble hero; his last words as he fell were "Never mind me, boys."
Having passed the batteries with comparatively little damage, the Patrick Henry became engaged in the thick of the fight. Whilst the forward guns were engaging one enemy, the after guns were firing at another. The situation of the Confederate wooden vessels at this time seemed desperate. The Newport News batteries were on one side; on the other the frigates Minnesota, St. Lawrence, and Roanoke were coming up from Old Point Comfort, and in front the beach was lined with field batteries and sharpshooters. Fortunately for the Confederate wooden vessels the Minnesota, St. Lawrence, and Roanoke grounded, and the small vessels which accompanied them, warned by the fate of the Cumberland, returned to Old Point. The Minnesota, however, was near enough to take part in the action, and opened a heavy fire after she grounded on the Confederate squadron.
About this time Flag-Officer Buchanan hailed the Patrick Henry and directed Commander Tucker to burn the Congress, which vessel had run ashore near the beach and surrendered. The gunboats Beaufort, Raleigh, and Teaser had attempted to burn her, but had been driven off by the heavy fire of the enemy. The pilots stated that there was a shoal near the Congress, and between that vessel and the Patrick Henry, over which the latter vessel could not pass. Commander Tucker therefore determined to approach the Congress as near as this shoal would permit, and then to send his boats to board and burn her. The boats were prepared for the service with combustible materials, the boats' crews and officers to command them held ready, whilst the vessel was steaming in to the Congress. This movement of the Patrick Henry placed her in the most imminent peril. She was brought under the continuous fire of three points. On her port quarter were the batteries of Newport News, on her port bow were the field batteries and sharpshooters on the beach, and on her starboard bow was the Minnesota. It soon became evident that no wooden vessel could long float under such a fire. Several shots struck the hull; a piece was shot out of the walking beam. As the sponge of the after pivot gun was being inserted in the piece the handle was cut in two by a shot. Half in prayer and half in despair at being unable to perform his duty, the sponger exclaimed, "O Lord, how is the gun to be sponged!" the fate of the battle, no doubt, in his opinion depending on the proper sponging of that particular gun. It must have been a great relief to him when the quarter gunner of his division handed him a spare sponge. This state of things could not last long. A rifle shot from the field batteries penetrated the steam chest; the engine room and fire room were filled with steam; five or six of the firemen were scalded to death; the engineers were driven upon deck, and the engine stopped working. The vessel was enveloped in a cloud of escaped steam, and the enemy, seeing that some disaster to the boiler had occurred, increased his fire. At the moment no one knew what had happened, the general impression being that the boiler had exploded, and it is an unmistakable evidence of the courage and discipline of the crew that the fire from the vessel did not slacken, but went on as regularly as before the incident. As the vessel was drifting toward the enemy, the jib was hoisted to pay her head around, and the steamer Jamestown, Lieutenant Barney, gallantly came to her assistance, and towed her from her perilous position. The engineers soon got one boiler to work. The other was so badly damaged that they were unable to repair it at the time, and with the steam on one boiler alone the Patrick Henry returned to the conflict. Night, however, soon closed in, and, as in the darkness it was impossible to distinguish friend from foe, hostilities ceased for the time, and the battle of Hampton Roads had been fought and won.
During the battle the shores of the Confederate side of the Roads were lined with spectators from Norfolk and the adjacent country, and never, not even in the days of the gladiators, had an assemblage such a spectacle performed before them.
The night after the battle the Confederate squadron anchored under Sewell's Point, at the mouth of Norfolk Harbor. There was little time for slumber that night, as the conflict was to be renewed the next morning, and it was necessary to make many repairs and preparations. About midnight a column of fire ascended in the darkness, followed by a terrific explosion. The Federal frigate Congress, which had been on fire all the evening had blown up, the fire having reached her magazine.
At the first peep of dawn on the 9th of March the Confederate squadron was underway, it having been determined to destroy the Minnesota, that vessel being still aground near Newport News. As the daylight increased the Minnesota was discovered in her old position, but the Minnesota was not the only thing to attract attention. Close alongside of her there lay such a craft as the eyes of a seaman never looked upon before-an immense shingle floating on the water, with a gigantic cheese box rising from its center; no sails, no wheels, no smokestack, no guns. What could it be? On board the Patrick Henry many were the surmises as to the strange craft. Some thought it a water tank sent to supply the Minnesota with water; others were of opinion that it was a floating magazine replenishing her exhausted stock of ammunition; a few visionary characters feebly intimated that it might be the Monitor which the Northern papers had been boasting about for a long time.
All doubts about the stranger were soon dispelled. As the Virginia steamed down upon the Minnesota the cheese box and shingle steamed out to meet her. It was indeed the Monitor, and then and there commenced the first combat that had ever taken place between ironclads. The Patrick Henry and the other wooden vessels took little part in the events of the day, except to exchange shots with the Monitor at long range as she passed and repassed during her maneuvering with the Virginia. At one time the Virginia did not seem to move. Apprehensions were entertained that she had got aground or that some part of her machinery was damaged. Signal flags were run up on board of her, but the flags did not blow out clear and it was some minutes before the signal officer of the Patrick Henry could make out the numbers. At length he reported the signal to be "Disabled my propeller is." No wooden vessel could have floated twenty minutes under the fire that the Virginia was undergoing, but if her propeller was disabled it was necessary to attempt to tow her back to the cover of our batteries, so the Patrick Henry and Jamestown started to make the attempt. They had gone but a short distance before the Virginia was seen to move and her propeller to turn, and the sacrifice was not necessary. That evening all the Confederate vessels went into the harbor of Norfolk and anchored. Flag-Officer Tattnall having relieved Flag-Officer Buchanan, who had been seriously wounded in the first day's fight in Hampton Roads, and all the vessels having been repaired and refitted, on the 13th [11th] of April the squadron again sallied out to meet the enemy.(*) In case the Virginia should not be able to capture or destroy the Monitor, the gunboats Beaufort and Raleigh and two small tugboats were assigned the duty of carrying her by boarding. The squadron steamed about in Hampton Roads for two days in succession, and the Jamestown captured several of the enemy's transports, but neither the Monitor nor any other Federal man-of-war could be induced to leave the protection of the guns of Fortress Monroe.
[JAMES H. ROCHELLE,
Lieutenant, C. S. Navy.]
Flag-Officer John R. TUCKER,
Commanding Confederate Naval Forces, Charleston, S.C.
[The remainder of the letter not found.--COMPILERS.]
Expenditure of shot, shell, and powder [by the C. S. S. Patrick Henry] in engagement on 8th and 9th [March, 1862].
30 12½-pound charges, X-inch pivot.
41 16-pound charges, 8-inch pivot.
5 12-pound charges, 8-inch pivot.
8 8-pound charges, 8-inch pivot.
35 9-pound charges, 8-inch broadside.
19 8-pound charges, 8-inch broadside.
16 6-pound charges, rifled 32-pounder.
30 X-inch shell; 20 of 15-seconds, 10 of 10-seconds.
92 8-inch shell; 46 of 15-seconds, 46 of 10-seconds.
19 8-inch solid shot.
16 rifled shell, 32-pounder.
NOTE.--The banding of the port rifled 32-pounder, 57 cwt., gun burst after the third fire, rendering it useless for the rest of the action.
Expended during the action, 138 shell of all descriptions and 19 solid shot.
Report of Major-General Huger, C. S. Army, commanding Department of Norfolk.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORFOLK,
Norfolk, Va., March 10, 1862.
SIR: I telegraphed yesterday to the Secretary of War the fact of the naval engagement on the 8th and 9th instants. As the battle was fought by the navy, Flag-Officer Forrest will no doubt report to the Navy Department the result of the engagement.
The batteries at Sewell's Point opened fire on the steamers Minnesota and Roanoke, which attempted on the 8th to pass to Newport News to the assistance of the frigates attacked by the Virginia. The Minnesota ran aground before reaching there. The Roanoke was struck several times, and for some cause turned around and went back to Old Point.
The two sailing vessels (Cumberland and Congress) were destroyed--the first sunk and the other burned by the Virginia--and on the 9th the Minnesota, still aground, would probably have been destroyed but for the ironclad battery of the enemy called, I think, the Monitor. The Virginia and this battery were in actual contact, without inflicting serious injury on either.
At 2 p.m. on yesterday, the 9th, all our vessels came up to the navy yard for repairs. The Virginia, I understand, has gone into dock for repairs, which will be made at once. This action shows the power and endurance of ironclad vessels. Cannon shot do not harm them, and they can pass batteries or destroy large ships. A vessel like the Virginia or the Monitor, with her two guns, can pass any of our batteries with impunity. The only means of stopping them is by vessels of the same kind. The Virginia, being the most powerful, can stop the Monitor, but a more powerful one would run her down or ashore. As the enemy can build such boats faster than we, they could, when so prepared, overcome any place accessible by water. How these powerful machines are to be stopped is a problem I can not solve. At present, in the Virginia, we have the advantage; but we can not tell how long this may last.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
Report of Major-General Magruder, C. S. Army, commanding Department of the Peninsula, of his cooperation with naval attack.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE PENINSULA,
Young's Farm, Virginia., March 10, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, at 9 p.m. on the 8th instant, of your telegram announcing the glorious achievement of the C. S. war steamer Virginia, and to report that before daylight I had troops on the way to the immediate vicinity of Newport News and proceeded in person to join them.
On my arrival I found my advance guard of one regiment of infantry, Colonel Cumming, Tenth Georgia, and some 300 cavalry (of ours) drawn up in line of battle within I mile of Newport News and 600 yards of the enemy's pickets of infantry and cavalry.
As I obtained from all quarters reliable information of the enemy's great strength, which was verified by our observation of the fort and vicinity, amounting to at least 12,000 infantry at Newport News alone, which at any moment could be increased to 18,000 from Fort Monroe, I saw that it was utterly impossible to do anything toward attacking the fort. My own troops, which are obliged to be divided to defend the two roads, Yorktown and Warwick, being when united only about 4,000 infantry, 450 cavalry, and a few pieces of light artillery, the larger number being too heavy to bring over the roads, which are recently worse than ever.
Finding, as I anticipated, that the naval attack produced no effect upon the fort except to increase its garrison, I contented myself with occupying the most advanced posts, Bethel and Young's Mill, where the troops are now.
I believe the enemy's plan was to ascend James River by land and water, to attack and capture, if possible, Jamestown Island, which would cause the fall of Yorktown, and then to occupy Suffolk, Jamestown, and West Point, and leaving Norfolk to fall with the fall of Richmond, if that could be accomplished, and to direct all his energies against the latter place. For the present his plans must be somewhat frustrated, but I consider that the Patrick Henry, Jamestown, and Teaser having gone to Norfolk and the Virginia into the dock for repairs, affords the enemy an admirable opportunity of fully retrieving his losses by placing the Ericsson battery [U. S. S. Monitor] at the mouth of James River and ascending at once the bank of that river, attacking, supported by the Ericsson battery [U. S. S. Monitor], the works of Harden's Bluff and Mulberry Island Point, which are weak, and thus forcing my troops to fall back to protect Jamestown and Williamsburg, and isolating and reducing Yorktown. I therefore hope that the steamers Patrick Henry, Jamestown, and Teaser may without delay ascend the James River, and should they require repairs, have them done at Richmond. When the Virginia is repaired they could rejoin her at any moment, as she would be the mistress of the roads.
I have not had time to report that the troops ordered to Suffolk were embarked from King's Mill wharf immediately after the reception of the orders, as I am informed. A considerable number of the regiments sent were on furlough, and I therefore sent a somewhat larger number than that called for, estimating the number by the aggregate present and absent. I presume those absent will join at once. I sent also two batteries, that of Cobb's Legion and the First Company of Howitzers, the latter being asked for by General Randolph. I have sent 350 cavalry, that number being embraced in Cobb's Legion.
I beg leave respectfully to invite the attention of the Secretary of War to my remarks in relation to the location of the three steamers.
I have at length assembled many negroes, and the defensive works begin again to progress satisfactorily.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
Resolution of thanks to Captain Buchanan and the officers and men under his command.
Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, That the thanks of Congress are due and are hereby cordially tendered to Captain Buchanan and all under his command for their unsurpassed gallantry, as displayed in the recent successful attack upon the naval forces of the enemy in Hampton Roads.
Approved, March 12, 1862.
Report of Flag-Officer Buchanan, C. S. Navy, acknowledging the resolution of thanks from the Confederate Congress to the officers and men under his command.
NAVAL HOSPITAL, March 25, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to receive your communication of the 19th instant, enclosing a Copy of a resolution of Congress tendering the thanks of that body to the officers and men under my command for our successful recent attack upon the naval forces of the enemy in Hampton Roads.
On Sunday morning last the officers and men in uniform were assembled in the sail loft in the navy yard and formed into a hollow square, with the officers in the center. When uncovered the enclosed general order was read, then your letter, followed by the resolution of Congress. The whole scene was quite impressive, and the officers and men properly appreciated the honor conferred upon them by their country.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy, Richmond.
NAVAL HOSPITAL, March 21, 1862.
Immediately upon the receipt of this order, or as soon thereafter as practicable, Commander John R. Tucker, the senior officer present under my command, will cause to be read in one of the public buildings of the navy yard, in the presence of the officers and crew of the James River Squadron, the enclosed communication from the Hon. S. R. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy, forwarding a resolution of thanks from the Congress of the Confederate States of America for our victories over our enemies on the 8th and 9th instant.
The flag officer takes this opportunity to renew to the officers and crews under his command his thanks for the gallantry, perseverance, and determination with which they sustained on those days the honor of the flag and the country. They may very soon be called upon to give some further evidence that they will sustain the high character and reputation acquired by the squadron in that conflict.
Flag. Officer, Commanding Squadron, Waters of Virginia.
Resolution of thanks to the officers and crews of the Patrick Henry, Jamestown, Teaser and other vessels for gallant conduct.
Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, That the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered, to the officers and crews of the Patrick Henry, Jamestown, Teaser, and other vessels engaged, for their gallant conduct and bearing in the naval combat and brilliant victory on the waters of James River on the 8th and 9th of March, 1862.
Approved, April 16, 1862
Letter of congratulation from Flag-Officer Tattnall, C. S. Navy, to Flag-Officer Buchanan, C. S. Navy.
SAVANNAH, GA., March 12, 1862.
MY DEAR BUCHANAN: The reports from Norfolk have kept us in a state of hopeful but painful anxiety in regard to your unexampled combat off Newport News, until the accounts of last evening reported the result and the return of the ships to Norfolk. I congratulate you, my dear friend, with all my heart and soul, on the glory you have gained for the Confederacy and yourself. The whole affair is unexampled, and will carry your name to every corner of the Christian world and be on the tongue of every man who deals in salt water. That which I admire most in the whole affair is the bold confidence with which you undertook an untried thing. To have faltered, or to have doubted, might have been fatal, but you proved yourself (as the old Navy always esteemed you) a man not of doubt or faltering when you had undertaken an adventure. If your wound be severe I shall regret it, but if it be not so, your friends will not find fault, as it crowns your worth.
I hope that Congress will make you an admiral, and put you at the head of the Navy. You have my vote for it from my very heart, and I am sure that all your seniors will cry "Amen." You do not know how much you have aided in removing the gloom which recent military events had cast over us. Do let some friend at your bedside write me one line to tell me the nature of your wound.
God bless you, my dear Buchanan.
Your friend, very truly,
Flag-Officer, C. S. Navy.
P. S.The enemy have cut us off from Fort Pulaski, but the fort is well supplied with provisions, etc., and is in excellent condition.
Letter of congratulation from Major-General Magruder, C. S. Army, to Flag-Officer Buchanan, C. S. Navy.
Young's Mill, Virginia, March 10, 1862.
COMMODORE: It is with the most cordial satisfaction that I tender you my most hearty congratulations on the glorious and brilliant victory you achieved over the enemy on Saturday and Sunday last. I consider it the greatest achievement of the age, and am delighted beyond expression that it was accomplished under your auspices and that of my friend Lieutenant Catesby ap R. Jones.
I went down in person as soon as I heard of the attack, and had given some orders for the movement of troops and one of my regiments, with 250 cavalry, and remained in front of the works within a mile and a half for some two hours yesterday without artillery, but though very strongI think at least 15,000they did not come out to attack us.
I regret to hear that you are wounded, but hope your wound will not prove serious.
I send you this hasty expression of my extreme satisfaction by Sergeant Tabb, whose departure I can not delay.
With the highest respect, I remain, commodore, very sincerely, yours,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
Major. General, Commanding.
Commodore BUCHANAN, C. S. Navy.
Letter from Lieutenant Jones, C. S. Navy, to Lieutenant Davidson, C. S. Navy, regarding the engagement of the C. S. S. Virginia (Merrimack) in Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862.
SAFFOLD, EARLY COUNTY, VA. [GA.], August 20, 1862.
MY DEAR DAVIDSON: It has recently come to my knowledge that Captain Fairfax has been making ill-natured remarks in regard to the Virginia's not taking the Minnesota. In these uncertain times I think that those best acquainted with the facts should state them; hence this letter.
I was in command on that day and solely responsible for the manner that the ship was fought, but it was then, as it is now, a matter of congratulation with me that those next in rank were officers in whose judgment I could confide.
The action lasted near four hours. We had run into the Monitor, causing us to leak, and had received a shot from her which came near disabling the machinery, but continued to fight her until she was driven into shoal water. The Minnesota appeared so badly damaged that we did not believe that she could ever move again. The pilots refused to place us any nearer to her (they had once run us aground). About 12 [o'clock] the pilots declared that if we did not go up to Norfolk then, that we could not do so until the next day. I consulted with Simms, whose decided opinion was that the action should cease, and directed him to get your opinion. He informed me that you agreed with him. Shortly after I ordered the ship to be taken to Norfolk.
This is a brief statement of the facts as I regarded them, and I should very much like to have letters from you and Simms, each giving the reasons that made it, in his judgment, advisable to discontinue the fight at the time we did. I would write to Simms myself, but do not know where to find him. You would much oblige me by communicating with him. Perhaps you had better send him this letter, but let me have a reply from you without awaiting his, as I am very anxious to receive the letters before commencing active operations in the Chattahoochee.
Hoping soon to hear from you, I remain, very sincerely, yours,
C. APR. JONES.
Lieutenant HUNTER DAVIDSON, C. S. Navy,
Letter from Lieutenant Davidson, C. S. Navy, to Lieutenant Jones, C. S. Navy, regarding the engagement in Hampton Roads, Virginia, March 9, 1862.
OXFORD, N. C., September 12, 1862.
MY DEAR JONES: * * * I am satisfied myself that you did all that any other officer could or would have done. It was unfortunate that you could not have had some idea of how near old Van Brunt was to leaving the ship, but since the greatest man can not possess any of the supernatural, you did all that your country could have expected of you.
We are all in high spirits at the prospect of getting possession of old Maryland again. Have we not great cause for congratulation upon our successesAlways happy to hear from you.
Very truly, your friend,
[Lieutenant CATESBY AP R. JONES, C. S. Navy.]
Letter from Lieutenant Jones, C. S. Navy, to Lieutenant Davidson C. S. Navy, regarding the engagement in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
SAFFOLD, [GA.], October 1, 1862.
MY DEAR DAVIDSON: The endeavor to equip the Chattahoochie has kept me moving so much that yours of the 12th only reached me a few days since.
I was much gratified by it, though your conclusions are not stated in the manner I would prefer. What I should very much like to have from you is a brief narrative of the facts as they appeared at the time to you, and upon which was based your opinion as to the propriety of running up to Norfolk when we did. A somewhat similar statement to that in my letter to you would be all sufficient. As to what we learned afterwards, that is a different thing. For instance, had I known the pilots as they afterwards proved themselves, I would have forced them to place us nearer the Minnesota, etc. You say nothing of Simms. I should like to have his address, if you have not sent him the letter I wrote you asking him also for a statement. Do let me have your reply as soon as possible.
[C. AP R. JONES.]
[Lieutenant HUNTER DAVIDSON, C. S. Navy.]
Letter from Lieutenant Davidson, C. S. Navy, to Lieutenant Jones, C. S. Navy, regarding the engagement in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
C. S. S. TORPEDO,
Submarine Batteries, James River, Va., October 25, 1862.
MY DEAR JONES: Only a few days since I received yours of the 1st instant, the delay owing in part to the mails, and much perhaps to the fact that my family being at Chester (about halfway between Richmond and Petersburg, on the railroad), and not having occasion to write to me, I have not enquired at the post-office for some weeks.
I have misplaced your first letter upon the Merrimack fight. I don't exactly recollect the narration referred to in your last, but I will endeavor to go over the ground of the 9th March, 1862, off Newport News, to your satisfaction, for I have ever since believed that your position as commander of the Virginia was the most difficult of the war, and that your conduct on that occasion merited more commendation than did Admiral Buchanan for the battle of the 8th, the day before.
At daylight on the morning of the 9th March, 1862, you and myself entered into conversation on the upper deck of the Virginia in regard to the course to be pursued in the action, which we all saw must take place between ourselves and the enemy's ironclad, the Monitor, then in sight at anchor off Newport News. You expressed your determination to attack and ram her, and to keep vigorously at her until the contest was decided, and you left the impression upon my mind that the engagement could only end in the overthrow of either the enemy or ourselves. As soon as we could make preparations and get underway, the Virginia stood toward the Minnesota, then aground on the 17-foot shoal off Newport News, and was met in a short time by the Monitor. The action was carried on by maneuvers, which, between ironclads, necessarily consumed much time, only exchanging shots when they were supposed to take effect. The Monitor engaging so much of your attention, you had little time to attack the Minnesota, as it was evident the former's object was to relieve the latter by drawing us off. Whilst this novel warfare was going on, the Virginia was run aground by the pilots, and remained so for about three-quarters of an hour, I think. It was during the grounding of the Virginia that the Monitor received her coup de grace and hauled off on the shoals, out of the reach of our guns, and gave us the opportunity to fire about eleven shells from my big bow gun at the Minnesota, six of which, not exploding prematurely as the rest did, appeared to take effect, although we were 1 mile distant, and one of which blew up a large steamer alongside of the Minnesota, killing 21 men and wounding many others. When the Virginia was floated again, I was informed that the pilots declared that it was impossible for us to get nearer the Minnesota. This circumstance, together with the fact that our officers and men were completely broken down by two days' and a night's continuous work with the heaviest rifled ordnance in the world, and that the ship was believed to be seriously injured by ramming and sinking the Cumberland, and that if she should run aground and remain so in attempting to reach the Minnesota, she would probably open forward where her horn had split the stem, and become an easy prey to the enemy, and in consideration also that the Monitor was drawn off and sought safety in shoal water, and that the Minnesota was crippled beyond the hope of safety, induced you, by the advice of the lieutenants whom you consulted, to return to Norfolk. I still think, as I then thought, that it was the proper course for you to pursue, and that you had made the best fight of the two days' engagement.
I am getting on slowly here with the submarines. I shall soon have about 12,000 pounds powder down at different stations on the river.
My late experiments prove that powerful galvanic batteries can be relied on to act with unerring certainty at the distance of a half mile under water. This is the way we should obstruct all our rivers if sufficient powder can be got. I don't believe you can find a Yankee to risk a blowing up.
The Navy generally is not getting on well here--too much jealousy, etc. Everyone wants notoriety and promotion, and I think a good many are looking out chiefly for "No. 1."
M. F. Maury has gone to Europe with about $4,000,000 for gunboats, etc. A. B. Fairfax, with his son and Buck Murdaugh and $500,000, are on their way to Northern Alabama, in the coal and iron region, to establish a naval foundry, 'tis said, of vast proportions. Wood, with a few picked men, is operating on the banks of the Potomac, getting a boat where he can, shoving off and burning all he can. Minor has his ordnance shop here in fine order. At Drewry's Bluff they are building winter quarters, and Butt is the last of the Virginia's left.
Letter from Lieutenant Simms C. S. Navy, to Lieutenant Jones, C. S. Navy, regarding the action of the latter as commanding officer of the C. S. S. Virginia.
PETERSBURG, VA., December 6, 1862.
MY DEAR JONES: Your letter of the 21st of November has just come to hand, and I avail myself of the earliest opportunity of replying to your questions.
I did hear you ask the pilots to place you near the Minnesota, and I not only heard them tell you that they could get no nearer to her, but they told me so, too. The ship had been aground at a considerable distance from the Minnesota, and a short time after she floated the Monitor ran into shoal water and ceased firing. It was about this time that you asked my opinion as to our further movements, and I unhesitatingly gave as my opinion (the pilots saying that we could not get to the Minnesota) that we were only wasting ammunition without doing any damage. I also consulted with Lieutenant Davidson, who coincided with me. I had also heard that the ship was leaking badly forward, and that it would be impossible for the ship to be taken to Norfolk until the day following, unless we took advantage of that day's tide, and as there was nothing for us to fight (the Monitor having gotten out of our reach), and the Minnesota being in a position (according to the pilots) where we could not get at her, was a sufficient reason in my opinion for ceasing firing.
I do not remember the exact conversations that occurred between Lieutenant Davidson and myself when I consulted with him in regard to cease firing, but I do remember that he fully agreed with me that it was best to do so, and to go to Norfolk.
With the hopes that you may be not only successful in getting to sea, but successful in worrying the Yankees when you get out, I remain,
Very truly, your friend,
CHARLES C. SIMMS.
Lieutenant Commanding C. AP R. JONES,
Commanding Steamer Chattahoochee, Saffold, Ga.
Nomination of Captain Buchanan to be admiral in the C. S. Navy for gallant conduct in the engagement in Hampton Roads, March 8, 1862.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, August 19, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to recommend the following nominations for appointment in the Navy, under act of Congress, entitled "An act to amend an act entitled an act to provide for the organization of the Navy, approved March 16, 1861, and for other purposes," approved April 21, 1862.
Admiral.Franklin Buchanan, of Maryland, a captain in the Navy of the Confederate States, for gallant and meritorious conduct in attacking the enemy's fleet in Hampton Roads and destroying the frigate Congress, sloop of war Cumberland, and three small steamers, whilst in command of the squadron in the waters of Virginia, on the 8th of March, 1862.
With much respect, I am, sir, your obedient servant,
S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
Appointment as commander from the Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States to Lieutenant Jones, C. S. Navy.
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,
Navy Department, Richmond, May 6, 1863.
SIR: You are hereby informed that the President has appointed you, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a commander in the Navy of the Confederate States, to rank from the 29th day of April, 1863, for gallant and meritorious conduct as executive and ordnance officer of the steamer Virginia in the action in Hampton Roads on the 8th of March, 1862, and in the action at Drewry's Bluff on the 15th of May, 1862.
Should you accept the appointment, you will notify this Department thereof.
Registered No. 30. The lowest number takes rank.
S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
Commander CATESBY AP R. JONES, C. S. Navy,
Charlotte, N. C.
Letter from Lieutenant Wood, C. S. Navy, to Commander Jones, C. S. Navy, regarding the promotion of the latter.
Private and confidential.]
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,
Executive Department, Richmond, Va., May 14, 1863.
MY DEAR MR. JONES: The story of your promotion is a long one, and I can not give you now the details, but will when we meet.
I did not notice the omission of the battle of the 9th, or I would have had it corrected at once. I know that it was for the Monitor fight that the President directed your name to be sent in for promotion. He could not have noticed the omission, for he has been sick for the last six weeks, and yesterday was at the office for the first time in a month, and so signed the papers as they were laid before him.
But even if this were not so, you must not think of declining promotion. In this mighty struggle all private feelings must be laid aside. The question is, Can you be of more use as a commander than as a lieutenant! You owe it to the country and service to accept it. The latter is almost unanimous in awarding you promotion. For yourself and friends, you ought to accept.
At the proper time I will bring this before the President, for some notice should be taken of it.
I will bear in mind your brother's application. As soon as the President recovers sufficiently, I take it, the appointments in the Provisional Navy will be made.
Truly, yours, etc.
J. TAYLOR WOOD.
[Commander CATESBY APR. JONES.]
Letter from Flag-Officer Buchanan C. S. Navy, to Commander Jones, C. S. Navy, regarding the promotion of the latter.
NAVAL COMMANDANT'S OFFICE,
Mobile, May 14, 1863.
DEAR JONES: Your letter reached me by this day's mail. I am sincerely rejoiced to hear of your promotion at last. It ought to have been given to you long ago. Why the fight with the Monitor was not mentioned I know not, except as there was no capture or material damage done to her, Mr. Mallory may think it not necessary to mention it. I really do not think you ought to refuse your promotion on that account. Your previous and subsequent services to the 9th of March entitled you to your promotion. Let me know what Mr. Mallory says after he receives your letter. I am sure he has no intention to reflect upon you. My squadron is increasing fast, and I want good officers to command the new steamers now under construction. I also want a fleet captain and flag-lieutenant. I wish you and Minor could join me as commanders of some of the steamers, or fleet captain and flag-lieutenant, if they won't promote M.
I am anxious to have another crack at the vile vagabonds. It would please me not a little to sink my old ship, the Susquehanna, now off this harbor. We shall soon hear stirring news from Tennessee and Mississippi. The fight has commenced near Raymond, [Miss.]. Our victory was a glorious one on the Rappahannock, but General Jackson's loss is a terrible blow to the country.
Regards to all friends who may be with you.
Sincerely, your friend, etc.,
Commander C. AP R. JONES, C. S. Navy,
Letter from Commander Jones, C. S. Navy, to the Secretary of the Navy of the Confederate States, accepting promotion.
CHARLOTTE, N. C., May 21, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 6th instant, informing me that the President has appointed me, by and with the advice of the Senate, a commander in the Navy of the Confederate States, to rank from the 29th day of April, 1863, "for gallant and meritorious conduct as executive and ordnance officer of the steamer Virginia in the action in Hampton Roads on the 8th of March, 1862, and in the action of Drewry's Bluff on the 15th of May, 1862," and, as requested, I respectfully notify the Department that I accept the appointment.
In your letter to the President of April 7, 1862, accompanying Flag-Officer Buchanan's official report of the actions of the Virginia on the 8th and 9th of March, 1862, you were pleased to refer in highly complimentary terms to my services whilst in command of the Virginia after Flag. Officer Buchanan was wounded on the 8th of March, and also on the 9th in the fight with the Monitor. I allude to this, as you are aware, for the first time, and would not do so now but that as no mention of these services is made in the commission I have just accepted, my silence might be construed into an admission that I did not consider them as important as those named.
My promotion would have been far more valued had the commission have noticed my services whilst in command of the Virginia.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CATESBY AP R. JONES,
Commander, C. S. Navy.
Hon. S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy, Richmond, Va.
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