Today in History:

Jamestown

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CSS Jamestown, a 1300-ton side-wheel gunboat, was built in at New York City in 1853 as a civilian steamer of the same name. She was seized by the State of Virginia in April 1861 for use by its navy. Later turned over to the Confederate Government, she was formally renamed Thomas Jefferson but continued to be generally known as Jamestown. During the rest of 1861 and into 1862, the ship was part of the James River Squadron. She took part in the the battle of 8 March 1862, in which CSS Virginia destroyed USS Cumberland and USS Congress, and in the 9 March 1862 action between Virginia and USS Monitor. When Virginia sortied again on 11 April 1862, Jamestown steamed over to the north side of Hampton Roads and captured three Union merchant ships.

As the Confederate position at Norfolk became tenuous in late April and early May, Jamestown helped evacuate casualties and supplies from there to safer areas on the James River. On 15 May 1862, as Federal warships assaulted the defending fortifications at Drewry's Bluff, CSS Jamestown was sunk nearby to block the channel leading up the James to Richmond. Her wreck remained in that location for the rest of the Civil War

This page features, or provides links to, all our views of CSS Jamestown, which was also known as CSS Thomas Jefferson.

For views of CSS Jamestown in action during March-April 1862, see::

  • CSS Virginia destroys USS Cumberland and USS Congress, 8 March 1862;
  • Action between CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, 9 March 1862; and
  • CSS Virginia -- Miscellaneous Actions.
    Note: Jamestown is not specifically identified in most of the views of these actions, but is one of the two large Confederate side-wheel steamers present in some images (The other is CSS Patrick Henry).

    Photo #: NH 59219

    CSS Jamestown captures Union schooners near Fortress Monroe, Virginia


    Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", July-December 1862, page 277, depicting Jamestown in the right center, moving in to capture three merchant vessels in Hampton Roads, 11 April 1862.



    Photo #: LC-B8171-3350

    CSS Jamestown
    and CSS Virginia II

    Sunk in the James River, Virginia, near Drewry's Bluff, circa April 1865.
    Jamestown, whose paddlebox tops are visible in the center, was sunk as an obstruction off Drewry's Bluff on 15 May 1862. Virginia II was destroyed when the Confederates evacuated Richmond on 3 April 1865.
    Photographed by Matthew Brady.

    Collections of the Library of Congress.

    For views of CSS Jamestown in action during March-April 1862, see::

  • CSS Virginia destroys USS Cumberland and USS Congress, 8 March 1862;
  • Action between CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, 9 March 1862; and
  • CSS Virginia -- Miscellaneous Actions.
    Note: Jamestown is not specifically identified in most of the views of these actions, but is one of the two large Confederate side-wheel steamers present in some images (The other is CSS Patrick Henry).

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