6724150 years ago today (March 8, 1862)
- Mar 8, 2012150 years ago today, Brig. Gen. Joseph K. F. Mansfield is in command at Camp Butler on Newport News Point. His men are witness to the debut of the CSS Virginia, as she wreaks havoc on wooden Union warships.
A Union sailor notes : "It looked like a half-submerged crocodile intent on evil".
CSS Virginia rams USS Cumberland below the waterline and she sank rapidly. There is a flag of truce as CSS Virginia seeks surrender of USS Congress. However, one of Virginia's supporting vessels fires on Camp Butler, including Mansfield's HQ tent. Mansfield's men fire back, wounding CSS Virginia's Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan.
After setting the Congress on fire (with tide going out, darkness coming), CSS Virginia heads back to Sewell's Point, determined to finish job tomorrow.
Mansfield sends this telegram describing the scene from Camp Butler:
"We want powder by the barrel. We want blankets sent up tonight for the crews of the Cumberland and Congress. The Merrimack has had it all her own way this side of Signal Point and will probably burn the Congress now aground with white flag flying and our sailors are swimming ashore."
It all happened 150 years ago today at Hampton Roads, VA.
Tom Shay - Cressona, PA
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