ORN Series 1, Vol. X: Memorandum of Movements of the CSS Virginia, June 21, 1864

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in Naval Volume X

[Engagement of Federal fleet with Confederate ironclads and shore batteries at Howlett’s, June 21, 1864.]

Memorandum of movements of the C. S. S. Virginia.

Tuesday, June 21, 1864,

CSS Virginia II Battle Damage - Michael J. Buonantuono

The CSS Virginia II, not to be confused with the famous Virginia aka Merrimack, fired 26 shots at the Union navy on June 21, 1864 from 12:30 to 6:11 pm.

Arrived abreast of Signal Tower at 12:15;

first gun, No. 3, fired at 12:30;

second gun, No. 1, fired at 12:33;

third gun, No. 1, fired at 1:30;

fourth gun, No. 1, fired at 1:40;

fifth gun, No. 1, fired at 1:45;

sixth gun, No. 3, fired at 1:50;

first shot from the enemy at 1:52;

seventh gun, No. 1, fired at 1:50;

eighth gun, No. 3, fired at 2;

second shot from the enemy at 2;

third shot from the enemy at 2:05;

fourth shot from the enemy at 2:09;

fifth shot from the enemy at 2:10;

sixth shot from the enemy at 2:12;

seventh shot from the enemy at 2:14;

anchored with kedge below Cox’s Mill at 2:20;

weighed kedge at 2:30;

firing heard on shore, supposed to be between the marine guard, under Lieutenant Gwynn, and the enemy’s sharpshooters, and small-arms men sent ashore under Lieutenant Hall, at 2:40;

discovered piston rod to be out of order at 3;

dropped kedge and ran a line ashore below Cox’s Mill at 3;

ninth gun, No. 2, fired at 3:22;

eighth shot from the enemy at 3:20;

ninth shot from the enemy at 3:28;

tenth shot from the enemy at 3:29;

a few musket shots on shore at 3:30;

eleventh shot from the enemy at 3:30;

tenth gun, No. 2, fired at 3:34;

twelfth shot from the enemy at 3:45;

eleventh gun, No. 2, fired at 3:55;

twelfth gun, No. 2, fired at 4:05;

thirteenth gun, No. 2, fired at 4:13;

fourteenth gun, No. 2, fired at 4:25;

fifteenth gun, No. 2, tired at 4:34;

sixteenth gun, No. 2, fired at 4:45;

seventeenth gun, No. 2, fired at 5;

eighteenth gun, No. 2, fired at 5:10;

thirteenth shot from the enemy at 5:14;

nineteenth gun, No. 2, fired at 5:18;

fourteenth shot from the enemy at 5:25;

twentieth gun, No. 2, fired at 5:38;

fifteenth shot from the enemy at 5:41;

sixteenth shot from the enemy at 5:42;

seventeenth shot from the enemy at 5:44;

twenty-first gun, No. 2, fired at 5:45;

eighteenth shot from the enemy at 5:48;

nineteenth shot from the enemy at 5:52;

twentieth shot from the enemy at 5:54;

twenty second gun, No. 2, fired at 5:55;

twenty-first shot from the enemy at 5:57;

twenty-second shot from the enemy at 6;

twenty-third gun, No. 2, fired at 6:01;

twenty-third shot from the enemy at 6:02;

twenty-fourth shot from the enemy at 6:05;

twenty-fifth shot from the enemy at 6:08;

twenty-fourth gun, No. 2, fired at 6:10;

twenty sixth shot from the enemy at 6:11;

made signal to the squadron to cease firing at 6:22.

At 6:30 received a message from Major [Francis W.] Smith, commanding Battery Dantzler, stating that the enemy’s monitors have dismounted and burst the bands of a 7-inch rifle gun, and that there are five monitors lying in Trent’s Reach, three of them 2,100 yards from Howlett’s, and two 400 yards lower down, just in the bend1, and that our shots fell short.2

Map of the June 21, 1864 Action at Howlett's Bluff

This map shows the June 21, 1864 Action at Howlett’s Bluff, covered in this itinerary of the movements of CSS Virginia.

 

Source/Notes:

  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: I rarely comment on any Official Records post, but the count of five monitors was incorrect.  Only four monitors were on the James River on June 21, 1864: Onondaga, Saugus, Canonicus, and Tecumseh. Major Smith must have misidentified some other vessel as a monitor, or more likely, saw the double turreted monitor Onondaga and from the extreme distance thought each turret was a single turreted monitor.
  2. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 10, p. 188

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