Civil War Navies

During the course of the Civil War, Battles and conflicts were fought on the land and in the water. While muskets fired and troops clashed on the fields of Battle, Cannons and Naval strategy clashed on the water, as both the Confederate and Union Navies duked it out.

Both the Union and Confederate Armies used tall masted, steam powered sloops and schooners armed with cannons on there high seas during  battles. The Union’s Navy was far larger than the Confederacy given their greater economic infrastructure.

The first Naval battle of the Civil war occurred on November, 7th 1861, and was known as the Battle of Port Royal. The battle began when Union officers plotted to heavily shell the l fortifications protecting Port Royal Sound, South Carolina.  Eventually after 4 hours of gunfire between the confederate fort and the ships, the Confederates abandoned the fort and the Union Army took control of the Charleston Harbor.

Bombardment of Port Royal

Bombardment of Port Royal

Perhaps the most famous naval Battle of the Civil War, was the Battle of Hamptons Roads. This Battle was fought on March 8-9th of 1862.  On March 8th, Union Warships stood silently as they blockaded the mouth or Norfolk Virginia. Then in the afternoon, the Union Navy personnel were shocked to see what was looming in the distance. In disbelief, they saw an ironclad warship that looked like a tank on water steaming toward them. The CSS Virginia opened fire on the wooden fleet, sinking two ships. After wreaking havoc the CSS Virginia receded back into the sea to await further orders.

The next day, the USS Virginia received further orders to re-attack the fleet. However, upon arrival the Union Army sent out an iron-clad vessel of their own. The USS Monitor. The Monitor was built of iron and had two revolving turrets. The advanced technology was too much for the slow moving Virginia, however the Naval battle was deemed a tie and both Ironclads limped back to their respective port. This Battle marked the first Ironclad battle in world history. The introduction of the Ironclads changed the tide of Naval War in the Civil War.

However, the USS Monitor was eventually lost at sea as it sunk due to battle damage and stormy conditions in December of 1862, as the boat proved to not be seaworthy on the open water. The CSS Virginia was eventually scuttled as a result of it not being fast enough to be effective.

Battle of Hamptons Roads

Battle of Hamptons Roads

Throughout the Civil War, the Naval battles continued. In all they were 20 battles fought between the two Navies with varying results.

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