Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher, NE Bastion. Frank Vizetelly (National Geographic)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Confederate Attack Down the James River-- Part 2: Grounded Out

JANUARY 23-24, 1865:  This serious Confederate thrust, however, came to naught when both the Virginia No. 2 and the Richmond ran aground while passing the obstructions at Trent's Reach and were brought under heavy fire from Union sore batteries.  Gunboat CSS Drewry and torpedo boat Scorpion also went aground.

The Drewry was shattered by an explosion resulting from a mortar shell penetrating her magazine, and the Scorpion, thought to be damaged by that nearby explosion, was abandoned.

The USS Onondaga, flagship of Parker's squadron, returned to Trent's Reach the following morning and took the stranded Confederate ironclads under fire.  Her 15-inch Dahlgren guns spoke with devastating effect, and the damaged Virginia No. 2 and Richmond withdrew upriver as soon as they were refloated.

Although Parker was severely criticized for failing to engage the Confederates at once, the war's last battle of ironclads ended favorably for the North.  Grant's supply line remained unbroken and he could move inexorably toward Richmond.  Control of the James and Potomac Rivers was of inestimable value to the North.

--Old B-Runner

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