Ironclad CSS Virginia

The CSS Virginia was the Confederation's first and only battleship in the American Civil War. The battleship USS Monitor of the Northern States was the first battle of two armored ships in history.


Launching and design:

When the Confederate troops captured the Gosport naval shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, they saw the remains of former USS frigate Merrimack burned to the waterline.

The remaining remains were completely removed up to the waterline. On the fuselage a 52 meter long and 2.13 meter high casemate was built, the sides of which stood at a 45 degree angle so that projectiles ricocheted off. The structure consisted of spruce and oak planks whereupon horizontal and vertical railroad tracks were screwed, as the Confederate troops were not sufficient iron plates for the armor available. On February 17, 1862 she was put into service.

The ship was powered by two steam engines with four boilers that provided around 1,200 hp. Due to the high weight and the weak drive, the ship moved only 7.5 knots.

The armament consisted of 10 cannons of two caliber 17,8cm and two 16,2cm guns with drawn barrels and six 22,8cm Dahlgren smoothbore guns. One cannon pointed forward and one towards the back. The remaining eight were aligned to the sides. Next, two mobile 7.5cm howitzers were placed on the casemate.


CSS Virginia

CSS Virginia




History of CSS Virginia:

The first mission was the Virginia on March 8, 1862, when she ran out with a number of other Confederate ships to break through the blockade of the northern states. The fleet drove into the mouth of James at Hampton Roads, where the Virginia first attacked the sailing frigate USS Cumberland. The wooden sail frigate, despite its 50 guns, could not penetrate through the Virginia armor, while the Virginia rammed the Cumberland below the waterline with its ram, causing the ship to sink.


Die CSS Virginia rammt die USS Cumberland

The CSS Virginia rams the USS Cumberland


The next attack of the Virginia was the USS Congress, also made of wood existing sailor. This could also penetrate with his guns also not the armor of Virginia, had to take even heavy damage by shelling. After several heavy hits, the commander of the Congress grounded the ship, where it started to burn and when the flames reached the ammunition rooms, the congress exploded.

The Virginia, which has lost two of its guns and speed, now began an attack on the USS Minnesota. The ship had run on a sandbank while fleeing from Virginia and now unable to maneuver. However, as night fell Virginia had to stop her attack and retreat.

When the ship ran out again on March 9 to launch an attack against the Minnesota, the northern battleship, the USS Monitor, which had arrived during the night, was already waiting. It was the first battle of two armored ships in the history of naval warfare, with none of the ships able to bring about a decision. So the Virginia retired. In the following weeks, the ships of the Northern States and the Virginia, but there was no further fight.


Das Gefecht zwischen der CSS Virginia und der USS Monitor

The battle between CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor




The end of CSS Virginia:

As the Northern States advanced General McClellan with his troops, Confederate troops withdrew in May 1862 from Norfolk. Since the depth of the Virginia was too high to drive up the river James and a breakthrough by the blockade of the northern states was too risky, the ship was set on 11 May 1862 grounded, and completely destroyed after the explosion of the powder chamber.


Die Explosion der CSS Virginia

The explosion of CSS Virginia




Ship data:

Ship type Ironclad
Country Confederacy
Launching February 17, 1862
Whereabouts Destroyed by blasting on May 11, 1862
Plating 25 bis 102mm
Drive 2 horizontal steam engines, 4 boilers with 1,200 hp
Length 83,8 meters
Width 15,6 meters
Draft 6,4 meters
Displacement 4.100 metric tons
Speed 7,5 knots
Arming 2 x caliber 17,8cm guns

2 x 16.2cm guns

6 x 22,8cm Dahlgren smoothbore guns

2 x mobile 7.5cm howitzers

pile spur

Crew Around 320 men






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