MAY 11TH, 1862: The CSS Virginia was blown up by her crew off Craney Island to avoid capture. The fall of Norfolk to Union forces denied the Virginia her base, and when it was discovered that she drew too much water to be brought up the James River, Flag Officer Tattnall ordered the celebrated ironclad's destruction.
"This perished the Virginia," Tattnall wrote, "and with her many highflown hopes of naval supremacy and success."
For the Union, the end of the Virginia not only removed the formidable threat to the large base at Fort Monroe, but gave Flag Officer Goldsborough's fleet free passage up the James River as far as Drewry's Bluff, a factor which was to save the Peninsular Campaign from probable disaster.
I think it is too bad that the Virginia did not attack the Union fleet or fortifications, maybe make a dash up the Potomac to Washington, D.C., in one last hurrah. Better to go down fighting than just meekly blowing it up.. Had Franklin Buchanan still been in command, I think he would have taken this action.