Fort Fisher

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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Spring Flooding on James River Opens Way For Possible Confederate Ironclad Attack: Send in the Monotors!

MARCH 4-5TH, 1865:  Spring floods on the James river made it possible for the heavy draft Confederate ironclads to strike at City Point, as they had attemptedto do in January.  This also might mean the Union ironclads could push upriver against Richmond.

On 3 March, Secretary Welles had asked Captain Oliver S. Glisson, senior naval officer at Hampton Roads, if the ironclads Montauk and Monadnock had reported to him.  "When they arrive," he directed impatiently, "send them up the James River immediately."

On the evening of the 4th General Grant, hoping to take advantage of the rising water, wired Assistant Secretary Fox: "The James River is very high, and will continue so as long as the weather of the past week lasts.  It would be well to have at once all the ironclads that it is intended should come here [City Point]."

Within half an hour of the arrival of Grant's message at the Navy department, Secretary Welles ordered Glisson: "Send off a steamer to Cape Fear River to bring the Montauk, ironclad, to James River immediately, and let the same steamer go with great dispatch to Charleston to bring up two ironclads from there; all for the James River."

The monitors definitely were no longer needed at Charleston or Wilmington.

--Old B-Runner

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