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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Richmond

 

(IrcRam: l. 150' (bp.), 172'6"; b. 34' (molded); dph. 14'; dr. 12'; cpl. 150; s. 5 to 6 k.; a. 4 rifled guns, 2 on each side, and 2 shell guns, one on each side; 1 spar torpedo; type Richmond)

 

CSS Richmond was built at Gosport (Norfolk) Navy Yard to the design of John L. Porter with money and scrap iron collected by the citizens of Virginia, whose imagination had been captured by the ironclad Virginia. Consequently she was sometimes referred to as Virginia II, Virginia No. 2 or Young Virginia in the South and as Merrimack No. 2, New Merrimack or Young Merrimack by Union writers, months before the actual Virginia II was ever laid down.

 

Begun in March 1862, Richmond was launched 6 May and towed up to the Confederate capital that very night to escape Federal forces again in possession of Norfolk Navy Yard and the lower James River. Richmond was thus finished at Richmond in July 1862 and placed in commission by Comdr. R. B. Pegram, CSN. Twenty-two inches of yellow pine and oak plus 4 inches of iron protected her roof and "she is ironed 3˝ feet below her load lines," wrote Shipyard Superintendent John H. Burroughs.

 

During 1863 and early 1864 the James front was quiet but from May 1864 momentous events followed in quick succession. The Confederates had three new ironclads in Capt. French Forrest's squadron there and minor actions were frequent.

 

During 1864 Richmond, under Lt. William H. Parker, CSN, took part in engagements at Dutch Gap, 13 August; Fort Harrison, 29 September-1 October; Chapin's Bluff, 22 October. On 23-24 January 1865, she was under heavy fire while aground with Virginia above the obstructions at Trent's Reach—fortunately at an angle that encouraged Federal projectiles to ricochet harmlessly off their casemates. But Richmond's tender, Scorpion, not thus armored, was severely damaged by the explosion of CSS Drewry's magazine as Drewry ended her life, lashed alongside Richmond. The ironclads withdrew under their Chapin's Bluff batteries for a few weeks but Richmond had to be destroyed by Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes, CSN, squadron commander, prior to evacuation of the capital, 3 April.