Ladies and gentlemen-- the story of the Battle of Hampton Roads told from the decks of the USS Minnesota
! I'm still not really sure why
I wrote this story, but here it is. As you can tell, I took the title of this piece (in addition to overall inspiration) from "The Star-Spangled Banner."
To summarize the history behind the story: The Battle of Hampton Roads was a naval battle that was part of the American Civil War that took place on March 8 and 9, 1862. To begin, the Union (US) forces were blockading the Virginia coast as part of a larger plan to cut off trade in the states in rebellion (Confederacy or CSA). The USS Minnesota
was part of that force, along with the USS Cumberland
and the USS Congress
. Meanwhile, the Confederates (CSA or “rebels”) had been busily building an ironclad vessel in Norfolk, Virginia, to attempt to fight off the Union ships and gain control of the Hampton Roads area for shipping. This vessel, constructed out of the partially-burned hull of the USS Merrimack
(sometimes spelled Merrimac
) was christened the CSS Virginia
. On March 8, 1862 she steamed into the James River (with construction workers still on board
, mind you) to fight the American navy. The Merrimac/Virginia/Merrimack
/what have you sinks the Cumberland
, runs the Minnesota
aground, and forces the Congress
to surrender, then lights her on fire. Darkness then falls, and the Merrimac
returns to Norfolk to finish off the Minnesota
the following day.
During the night, a Union ironclad, the USS Monitor
is summoned to fight the Merrimac
, as she has handed the US Navy its biggest defeat until the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. It was not easy—the damn thing nearly sank on its passage to Hampton Roads. Upon her arrival, she was ordered to defend the still-grounded Minnesota. Neither side knew what to make of the strange, tiny vessel, but the Merrimac
ultimately decides to attack. This is the first time that two ironclads have fought each other in modern naval history. The two ironclads then fight for a long time with neither side gaining the upper hand until a lucky shot from the Merrimac
hits the Monitor’s
pilot house and blinds its pilot. The Monitor
then backs away from the battle and remains away for some time. The Confederates claim victory and head back to Norfolk. The Monitor
, apparently down but not out, returns to battle to see the Merrimac
leaving. Thus, both sides claim victory in the Battle of Hampton Roads and the outcome is officially considered to be a draw.
Let's not forget... Civil War Terminology
A barely-edible sort of cracker widely eaten by those serving in the military in those days. It had a variety of nicknames, though I really like "sheet iron crackers."a fair piece:
a great distancebully:
For loads more information about the Battle of Hampton Roads and the ships involved: [link]
And you should know that I do not always agree with my characters. In this case, the “enemy-held, God-forsaken flatlands” of Virginia are my home.
Always. Especially with regard to historical accuracy!