Sunday, April 7, 2013

This Month in the Civil War: First Battle of Charleston Harbor

150th Anniversary
This Month in the Civil War: First Battle of Charleston Harbor

Over the course of the Civil War, ironclad ships were used with varying degrees of success in attacking fortresses on land from the sea. These newest ships in the Union Navy were not nimble, but they had large and effective guns which were engaged in many attacks throughout the war.
On April 7, 1863, Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont led nine ironclad ships into Charleston Harbor. The flotilla included seven monitors, the USS New Ironsides, and the experimental USS Keokuk, a heavily plated ironclad which proved completely inadequate in the battle. Her hull was pierced by ninety projectiles causing the ship to take on water and sink off Morris Island.
Weather originally delayed the attack. Torpedoes and obstructions in the harbor were difficult to negotiate, and a strong tide adversely affected navigation and ultimately the success of the offensive. The Confederate guns at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie fired shots and shells outnumbering those from the ships nearly thirteen to one. The ironclads spent much of the two-hour battle simply trying to navigate the currents and obstructions in the harbor.
The armor of the ironclads protected the men aboard. While all ships suffered some damage, casualties on both sides were light. The battle was seen as a Confederate victory as the Union Navy, despite high hopes of a tremendous victory, suffered the failure of not even making it past the first defenses in Charleston Harbor.

(taken from email from )

No comments: