On Jan. 23, 1865, the ironclads Virginia II, Richmond, and Fredericksburg, with five smaller vessels, descended the James River in an effort to attack the Union supply depot at City Point. A reliable report indicated that recent floods had washed away the Union obstructions at Trent's Reach. Also, most of the Union vessels that had steamed up the river in May 1864 had been pulled to North Carolina to participate in the attack against Fort Fisher near Wilmington. With the obstructions washed out, only the monitor U.S.S. Onondaga and a handful of wooden vessels protected City Point. The Confederate ships were able to slip past Union guns upriver at Fort Brady. Firing from that fort, however, alerted Union batteries downriver to the movement. By 10:30 P.M. the Confederate flotilla had reached the obstructions at Trent's Reach. The Fredericksburg and gunboat Hampton managed to pass through the southern side of the barrier. The Virginia II, however, ran aground in the treacherous channel. During the night the torpedo boat Scorpion and the armed tender Drewry also ran aground. The Fredericksburg and Hampton were recalled upriver to protect the other ships. As the sun rose, Union cannon in Battery Parsons opened fire on the Drewry. The third shot caused the Drewry to explode with such force that it was heard by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at City Point, 18 miles downriver. The shock from the blast dislodged the Scorpion and sent her drifting downstream into Union hands. The Union shore batteries then began to pound the Richmond and Virginia II. By 10:45 A.M., the Virginia II floated free as the double-turreted U.S.S. Onondaga came upriver. From a half mile the ship's 15-inch guns broke through the four inch armor of the Virginia II before the ironclad could get out of range. The Confederates sought shelter in a bend of the river just opposite Battery Dantzler The next day, they retired upriver to Chaffin's Bluff. The threat to Grant's supply base was over.
This sign was sponsored by The Chester Station Camp Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia.