The Civil War Connections Blog

Work ordered to begin on a new ironclad

CSS Virginia was the first ironclad warship of the Confederate States Navy and was one of the participants in the Battle of Hampton Roads in March, 1862 opposite the USS Monitor. As you’ll recall, when Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, one of the important federal military bases threatened was Gosport Shipyard, now Norfolk Naval Shipyard. An order was sent to destroy the base rather than allow it to fall into Confederate hands. Unfortunately for the Union, the USS Merrimac sank before she completely burned. The Confederates raised the Merrimac and used her engines and hull to build an ironclad ram. This new ship would eventually be named the CSS Virginia. On July 11, 1861, work was ordered to begin on the new ironclad:


Richmond, July 11, 1861.

Flag Officer F. Forrest:

Sir: You will proceed with all practicable dispatch to make the changes in the form of the Merrimac, and to build, equip, and fit her, in all respects, according to the design and plans of the constructor and engineer, Messrs. Porter and Williamson. As time is of the first importance in the matter, you will see that the work progresses without delay to completion.

Secretary Confederate States Navy