Virginia State SealDHR logo
Richmond Ironclads at Trent's Reach
Detail from Library of Congress photo: LC-DIG-cwpb-01513

The Gap

When the Scorpion drew near the obstructions, U.S. soldiers could see her and fired away. Her pilot pronounced the gap impassable, refused to measure the water's depth, and demanded to return to the ironclad Virginia II. Lt. C.W. Read, commanding the Confederate torpedo boats, took the Scorpion to the front ironclad, the Fredericksburg, got a second pilot, and returned to the barricade. Ordering both pilots into a skiff, Read went in close. He found the gap blocked by a single wooden spar—hung in chains and floating in 18 feet of water. Even at low tide, the Confederate ironclads could pass.
   The winter floods created the gap by shifting the sunken hulks, including the second one from the shore in this image, which surging waters repositioned enough to leave an opening in the channel.  
Previous / Next

17 of 27