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CSS Richmond, first of a class of six ironclad rams, was built at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Launched in early May 1862, as the Confederates prepared to evacuate the Norfolk area, she was towed up the James River to Richmond, Virginia, and completed there in July. She thereafter served in the James River Squadron, protecting the Confederacy's capital city from waterborne assault.

Richmond's combat activity mainly took place from mid-1864 into early 1865, as General Grant's Federal army pushed south to and over the James. On 13 August 1864, she bombarded Union positions at Dutch Gap in an effort to cover the movements of Confederate troops. From 29 September to 1 October, her guns supported an attack on the Federal army's Fort Harrison and protected Southern-held Chaffin's Bluff. On 22 October, while near Chaffin's Bluff, Richmond was engaged by enemy shore-based artillery.

Her final action took place on 23-24 January 1865, as the James River Squadron attempted to force its way past the obstructions at Trent's Reach to attack Federal bases below. During the passage Richmond went aground and came under heavy fire from guns ashore and from the U.S. Navy monitor Onondaga. Though some of the supporting unarmored vessels were destroyed or severely damaged in the unsuccessful operation, Richmond and the Squadron's other two ironclads were able to disengage and retreat back up the river. To prevent capture she was deliberately destroyed by burning on 3 April 1865, as the Confederate Government prepared to abandon Richmond.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.



Launched: May 6, 1862
Commissioned: July 1862
Decommissioned: April 3, 1865
Fate: Destroyed to prevent capture
General Characteristics
Displacement: ?
Length: 172 ft 6 in
Beam: 34 ft
Draught: 12 ft
Propulsion: Steam engine
Complement: 150 Officers and men
Armament: 4 rifled guns, 2 shell guns, 1 spar torpedo

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