Congress - Cumberland

Congress - Cumberland (HMRT8)

Location: Newport News, VA 23607
Country: United States of America

N 36° 58.668', W 76° 26.068'

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Give Them a Broadside Boys, as She Goes

— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

In this section of the James River directly in front of you lies the remains of the USS Cumberland. At this location and along the shore to your left were the Union batteries that protected Camp Butler.

On March 8, 1862, the Confederate ironclad ram CSS Virginia attacked the Federal fleet blockading the James River. The conversion of the Virginia during the past year from the former steam frigate USS Merrimack, scuttled when Federal forces evacuated Norfolk in 1861, had been a remarkable test of Confederate ingenuity and resources.

The Virginia, appearing like a "floating barn belching smoke," and armed with 10 guns, steamed toward Newport News Point, commanded by Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan, CSA. Methodically passing the 50-gun USS Congress, the Virginia rammed the 30-gun Cumberland, creating a hole "large enough for a carriage to drive through." The Cumberland quickly began to sink into the James River with her guns firing and 121 men aboard. With her ram embedded in the Cumberland, the Virginia's engines struggled to free her from being pulled under the waves. The ironclad survived because her ram broke off, thereby freeing her to attack the Congress, which had run aground endeavoring to escape the Virginia. The Congress soon surrendered. Musket fire from Newport News Point wounded Buchanan, and he ordered the destruction of the Congress.

Lieutenant Catesby Roger Jones, CSA, assumed command of the Virginia. The ironclad moved to attack the USS Minnesota, one of three vessels that had run aground coming to the aid of the Cumberland. The Union vessel was only saved from destruction because the tide had ebbed. The Virginia returned to Norfolk, determined to finish destroying the Union fleet on the morrow.
Details
HM NumberHMRT8
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
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Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 7:38am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 372325 N 4093371
Decimal Degrees36.97780000, -76.43446667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 58.668', W 76° 26.068'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 58' 40.08" N, 76° 26' 4.08" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 20 28th St, Newport News VA 23607, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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