Buchanan report on Hampton Roads Text: Here is a text of Capt. Franklin Buchanan's report on the engagement at Hampton Roads, Va., written from the Confederate Naval Hospital in Norfolk on March 27, 1862:

March 01, 1998

Having been confined to my bed in this building since the 9th instant, in consequence of a wound received in the action of the previous day, I have not had it in my power at an earlier date to prepare the official report, which I now have the honor to submit, of the proceedings on the 8th an. 9th [March 1862] instant of the James River squadron, under my command, composed of the following-named vessels: Steamer Virginia, flagship, ten guns; steamer Patrick Henry, Commander John R. Tucker, twelve guns; steamer Jamestown, Lieut. Commanding J. N. Barney, two guns; and gunboats Teazer, lieut. commanding W.A. Webb; Beaufort, Lieut. Commanding W.H. Parker; and Raleigh, Lieut. Commanding J.W. Alexander, each one gun. Total, twenty-seven guns.

On the 8th instant, at 11 a.m., the Virginia left the navy yard (Norfolk), accompanied by the Raleigh and Beaufort, and proceeded to Newport News, to engage the enemy's frigates Cumberland and Congress, gunboats, and shore batteries. When within less than a mile of the Cumberland the Virginia commenced the engagement with that ship with her bow gun, and the action soon became general, the Cumberland, Congress, gunboats, and shore batteries concentrating upon us their heavy fire, which was returned with great spirit and determination. The Virginia stood rapidly on toward the Cumberland, which ship I had determined to sink with our prow if possible. In about fifteen minutes after the action commenced we ran into her on her starboard bow. The crash below the water was distinctly heard, and she commenced sinking, gallantly fighting her guns as long as they were above water. She went down with her colors flying.

During this time the shore batteries, Congress, and gunboats kept up their heavy concentrated fire upon us doing us some injury. Our guns, however, were not idle; their fire was very destructive to the shore batteries and vessels, and we were gallantly sustained by the rest of the squadron.

Just after the Cumberland sunk that gallant officer Commander John R. Tucker was seen standing down James River under full steam, accompanied by the Jamestown and Teazer. They all came nobly into action and were soon exposed to the heavy fire of shore batteries. Their escape was miraculous, as they were under a galling fire of solid shot, shell, grape, and canister, a number of which passed through the vessels without doing any serious injury, except to the Patrick Henry, through whose boiler a shot passed, scalding to death four persons and wounding others. Lieutenant-Commanding Barney promptly obeyed a signal to tow her out of the action. As soon as damages were repaired the Patrick Henry returned to her station and continued to perform good service during the remainder of that day and the following.

Having sunk the Cumberland, I turned our attention to the Congress. We were some time in getting our proper position in consequence of the shoalness of the water and the great difficulty of managing the ship when in or near the mud.

To succeed in my object I was obliged to run the ship a short distance above the batteries on James River in order to wind her. During all the time her keel was in the mud; of course she moved but slowly. Thus we were subjected twice to the heavy guns of all the batteries in passing up and down the river, but it could not be avoided.

We silenced several of the batteries and did much injury on shore. A large transport steamer alongside the wharf was blown up, one schooner sunk, and another captured and sent to Norfolk. The loss of life on shore we have no means of ascertaining.

While the Virginia was thus engaged in getting her position for attacking the Congress the prisoners state it was believed on board that ship that we had hauled off. The men left their guns and gave three cheers. They were soon sadly undeceived, for a few minutes after we opened upon her again, she having run on shore in shoal water.

The carnage, havoc, and dismay caused by our fire compelled them to haul down their colors and to hoist a white flag at their gaff and half-mast and another at the main. The crew instantly took to their boats and landed. Our fire immediately ceased, and a signal was made for the Beaufort to come within hail.

I then ordered Lieutenant-Commanding Parker to take possession of the Congress, secure the officers as prisoners, allow the crew to land, and burn the ship. He ran alongside, received her flag and surrender from Commander William Smith and Lieutenant Pendergrast, with the side-arms of those officers. They delivered themselves as prisoners of war on board the Beaufort, and afterward were permitted at their own request to return to the Congress to assist in removing the wounded to the Beaufort. They never returned, and I submit to the decision of the Department whether they are not our prisoners.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.