Battle of the Iron clads at Hampton Roads

JebCW

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Sep 18, 2015
Hi everyone,
I went to Alabama back in March and my family took me to a number of places, Montgomery,Prattville,Alexander City, and Selma. on the way back, we stopped at Live Oak Cemetery in Selma. A very old cemetery where a former vice president is buried, also a relative of Mary Lincoln is buried. I didn't get a chance but to look at a few confederate graves.Marked by a iron cross marker and small battle flags.The photo that is attached is one of significant Civil War history:
Catesby ap Roger Jones April 15,1821-June 20,1877
Captain Confederate States Navy

Here is some of what Wikipedia has about him:
Catesby ap Roger Jones was an officer in the U.S. Navy who became a commander in the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War. He assumed command of CSS Virginia during the Battle of Hampton Roads and engaged the USS Monitor in that world famous battle of the two iron clads.During the Battle of Hampton Roads, when her Commanding Officer, Captain Franklin Buchanan, was wounded in the March 8, 1862 attack on USS Cumberland and Congress, Jones temporarily took command, leading the ship during her historic engagement with USS Monitor on the following day.

Captain Jones' mother was a cousin of General Robert E. Lee.
 

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Mark F. Jenkins

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Cool!

Catesby Jones was also noted for his leadership of the Selma AL gun foundry. Although it never approached the production level of Richmond's Tredegar works, the fact that he got it running and producing at all was something of a minor miracle.

A number of people, Confederate ordnance expert and all-around-genius John Mercer Brooke prominent among them, thought Jones should have been named captain of the Virginia; but he was too far down the seniority list for Navy Secretary Mallory to be able to justify it (at that point in the war, anyway). The arrangement finally reached was to leave Jones as executive officer, appoint Franklin Buchanan as a squadron commander over him, and leave the actual position of captain vacant.

(ETA: This peculiar arrangement was continued when Josiah Tattnall took over for Buchanan... so, technically speaking, the CSS Virginia never had a captain!)
 
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rebelatsea

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Mar 30, 2013
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Kent ,England.
Cool!

Catesby Jones was also noted for his leadership of the Selma AL gun foundry. Although it never approached the production level of Richmond's Tredegar works, the fact that he got it running and producing at all was something of a minor miracle.

A number of people, Confederate ordnance expert and all-around-genius John Mercer Brooke prominent among them, thought Jones should have been named captain of the Virginia; but he was too far down the seniority list for Navy Secretary Mallory to be able to justify it (at that point in the war, anyway). The arrangement finally reached was to leave Jones as executive officer, appoint Franklin Buchanan as a squadron commander over him, and leave the actual position of captain vacant.

(ETA: This peculiar arrangement was continued when Josiah Tattnall took over for Buchanan... so, technically speaking, the CSS Virginia never had a captain!)
Mark, that'a why I love this site, you never stop learning new things.
 

kevikens

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Jun 7, 2013
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New Jersey
Mark, I understand that the Monitor used reduced powder charges in her Dahlgrens. If she had loaded with the full weight charges would her shot have penetrated Virginia's armor? Any examples of where this happened in later battles involving monitors and other Confederate ironclads?
 

JebCW

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Sep 18, 2015
Jones' grandson is still living -- early 90's now. A friend of mine, a Selma in the CW researcher, takes him to the Battle of Selma re-enactment every year.
Great info, thanks. This is a perfect example of why gravestones need to be preserved.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Mark, I understand that the Monitor used reduced powder charges in her Dahlgrens. If she had loaded with the full weight charges would her shot have penetrated Virginia's armor? Any examples of where this happened in later battles involving monitors and other Confederate ironclads?

This has been "received wisdom" for years, but it's been called into serious question on this site... I'll have to hunt for the thread. The principal problem with this notion is that it assumes that 15-pound charges were a 'reduced' charge; but in the actual literature of the time, that was the standard service charge for a XI-inch Dahlgren, with 20-pounds in certain other cases. It is true that XI-inch Dahlgrens were later tested with increased charges-- but reading that back into 9 March 1862 is just hindsight.

[ETA: I think the thread where this issue was discussed was http://civilwartalk.com/threads/had...fighting-who-would-have-eventually-won.87946/ ]

I myself had repeated the "reduced charges" story for years, because it does appear in a lot of the literature-- but when the evidence is examined, it's not actually supportable.

Now... XV-inch Dahlgrens could and did penetrate Confederate ironclads' armor on several occasions. XI-inchers apparently needed a couple of hits in the same place, or a hit at a weak spot. (To that end, Catesby Jones and others aboard the Virginia were uncomfortably aware that their ship was vulnerable right at or just below the water line; if the Monitor's gunners had placed a round or two there, the Confederate ship could have been in serious trouble. But the situation did not occur, for one reason or another.)
 

USS Cumberland

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Dec 23, 2014
CSS Virginia wasn't the only ship without a captain. Lt. George Morris, the USS Cumberland's executive officer, commanded the frigate during her epic fight against the CSS Virginia, because her Captain, William Radford, was away attending a court martial at Hampton Roads. Third Lieutenant Thomas O. Selfridge noted:

"Upon the appearance of the Merrimack in the Roads, Captain Radford hastily procured a horse at Old Point and rode overland at such a pace, that, at dismounting at Newport News, the horse dropped dead. This was in time only to see his ship sinking."
 

Carronade

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Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Mark, I understand that the Monitor used reduced powder charges in her Dahlgrens. If she had loaded with the full weight charges would her shot have penetrated Virginia's armor? Any examples of where this happened in later battles involving monitors and other Confederate ironclads?

Conversely, I've read that the Confederates developed a special armor-piercing shot which might have given Virginia a better chance in a return engagement with Monitor; can anyone confirm/correct this or tell whether this ammunition was supplied to any other Confederate ironclad in subsequent engagements?
 

georgew

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southern california
Conversely, I've read that the Confederates developed a special armor-piercing shot which might have given Virginia a better chance in a return engagement with Monitor; can anyone confirm/correct this or tell whether this ammunition was supplied to any other Confederate ironclad in subsequent engagements?
John Brooke was developing an armor-piercing solid shot. There are a number of mentions of this project in his diary, which has since been published with some additional return correspondence, including a number of letters to and from Jones.
 

rebelatsea

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Mar 30, 2013
Location
Kent ,England.
John Brooke was developing an armor-piercing solid shot. There are a number of mentions of this project in his diary, which has since been published with some additional return correspondence, including a number of letters to and from Jones.
Brooke developed "steel point" shot ,whether this was a penetrating round or a flat head shot I don't know, my guess is tha it was a penetrating round with a conical steel cap. There is no mention of them being issued other than to CSS Virginia.
 
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