This week in the war:
Sunday, March 9, 1862: Battle of Hampton Roads, Va., also known as the Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack, “CSS Virginia” (formerly the sunken USS Merrimack, rebuilt as a Confederate ironclad) had arrived the day before and wreaked havoc on the wooden Union ships. Up against another ironclad her defects became more obvious, primarily that her steam engine was not powerful enough to propel the weight of her iron plating. Although she arrived a day late, and had been laughed at as the “cheese-box on a raft”, the USS Monitor would be only the first of a new class of fighting ships. The battle lasted for 3 or 4 hours, with direct hits and ramming. The ships do not fight again, and the blockade remains in place. The days of wooden ships was over.
In Virginia, the Confederate army under General Joseph Johnston retreats to a position at Rappahannock Station, close to the Rappahannock River. Instead of engaging the Confederates, McClellan's (USS) Army of the Potomac returns to its bases around Alexandria, Virginia.
Monday, March 10, 1862: In the aftermath of the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac, the captains of both vessels were under medical care for (relatively) minor wounds suffered in the battle. Lt. Worden, who had been commander of the Monitor, had the misfortune to have a damaged eyeball. President Lincoln, today paid a call on his hospital room to congratulate him on the battle and the victory. Since the results were in fact fairly inconclusive, both sides could gloat about their action. Also today, the US government issues 1st paper money ($5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $500 & $1000.) Strange fact: the biggest counterfeiter of money during the Civil War was our own, US government. They flooded the southern states with bogus Confederate money to try to weaken its buying power.
Tuesday, March 11, 1862: Lincoln issues General War Order Number Three, removing General George McClellan from his command as General in Chief of the Union Army. Lincoln assigns McClellan to head the Army of the Potomac and refrains from appointing another General in Chief. Confederate President Davis refuses to accept the excuses of Generals Floyd and Pillow for leaving Fort Donelson and removes them from their commands. Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson withdraws with 4600 solders south from Winchester, Virginia.
Wednesday, March 12, 1862: Landing parties from the U.S.S. Ottawa, commanded by Lieutenant Thomas F. Stevens, occupy Jacksonville, Florida without opposition. Union troops occupy Winchester, Virginia. Citizens of Richmond, Virginia panic when they learn that Union General McClellan is proceeding to nearby York Peninsula. Jane Delano, nurse/teacher/founder (Red Cross) was born today in Montour Falls, New York.
Thursday, March 13, 1862: Union Commander D.D. Porter reports the arrival of the mortar fleet at Ship Island, Mississippi. Union General John Pope captures Point Pleasant, Missouri, and provokes Confederates to evacuate New Madrid. The Confederates abandon arms and provisions, valued at one million dollars, during their escape across the Mississippi River to the eastern bank and to Island No. 10.
Friday, March 14, 1862: At Cairo, Illinois, Union Flag Officer Foote departs with seven gunboats and ten mortar boats to attack Island No. 10. The Union captures New Berne, North Carolina with minor fighting, establishing another strategic Union port and supply point. In talks pertaining to slavery, Lincoln tries to justify the proposed financial compensation to slaveholders as a means to end the war. (Interesting fact... Mary Todd Lincoln, Abe’s wife’s family were slave owners and most of her family were in the Confederate army.)
Saturday, March 15, 1862: Grant was handed a command once again – he was placed in charge of Unionist forces in Tennessee. Union Flag Officer Foote's gunboats and mortar boats reach the area above Island No. 10, but the fog and rain obstruct any action.