Front: C.S.S. Virginia Flagship, James River Squadron, Captain Franklin Buchannan, February 17, 1862, May 11, 1862, Length: 263 feet – Beam 51 feet, Draft: 19 to 22 feet, Tonnage: 3200, Speed: 4-5 knots, Boilers: 5 Tubular, 4 Main & 1 Auxiliary, Martin Type Engines: 2 Horizontal, Back Acting with 2, 72 inch dia. cylinders & 3-foot stroke. Horsepower: 1294 Coal Consumption: 3400 P.P.H. Propeller: 2-Blade Griffiths, Diameter 17 feet 4 inches, Ram: 1500 Lbs., cast iron, 2 ft. long, Anchors: 2 at the bow.
Back: Battery: Eight 9-inch rifled Dahlgren, shell guns in broadside; two 7-inch pivot guns, bow& stern each firing through 3 available ports. Crew: 320 Officers & Men.
In the Norfolk Navy Yard the burned-out hull and saltwater soaked engines of the steam Frigate USS Merrimack were hastily rebuilt and converted into the ironclad ram CSS Virginia. Her crew was mostly volunteer as she steamed into history March 8, 1862 as the first American ironclad to engage enemy warships. The Virginia sunk the USS Cumberland and set afire the USS Congress. The next morning she engaged the USS Monitor for 4 hours, neither affecting the other. Her brief career made history.