Spring 1862 No. 10


In the year of 1862, Johanna Cardiff was becoming a young woman; her country was split by war. This is her journal; these are her journeys.



Dear Brothers,

March is here and spring has truly blessed us with its presence.  As the days lengthen and the sun seemed to brighten, I find myself returning to a more engaging mood and my acceptance of the world we live in becomes more positive.

I must share, my optimism is not totally due to the change in the weather.  Just yesterday, I read the accounts of the recent battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia.  I do not know if you are familiar with the encounter or not, so I will write a few words about it while it is fresh in my memory.

When Virginia succeeded from the Union, the shipyard at Portsmouth was abandoned.  Prior to leaving, several of the ships either were damaged or destroyed, in an effort to keep them from Confederate forces.  One of those ships, the USS Merrimack, a steam powered frigate was burned to the waterline.  Over the past year, Confederate engineers and workmen have redesigned and rebuilt her into a new type of naval vessel.  They rechristened her the CSS Virginia.

The Virginia is has no sails and no sidewheels with which to generate propulsion, but has a propeller.  Every part of her, above the waterline is encased in iron cladding.  She has several guns along each side of her, not to mention a battering ram, and she was designed and built to defeat the blockade of Southern ports, ordered by President Lincoln.

Just recently, on the 8th and 9th of this month, the CSS Virginia met and did battle with our own ironclad monster, the USS Monitor at Hampton Roads, Virginia.

An inventor, named John Ericsson designed and built the Union ship.  Ericsson named her the “Monitor,” as Monitor in Latin is “one who reminds another of their duties.”  I find it poetic that a ship designed to force our southern brothers and sisters to recognize their obligations to the union is named such a name.  Unlike the Merrimack, which is armed with several guns along its sides, the Monitor has a turret that contains one gun but can rotate in the direction of the enemy.

As I stated, the two ships met and did battle just recently.  The Virginia was sent north to destroy the ships enforcing the blockade and on the 8th of this month, she first sank the USS Congress with the use of her battering ram, and then chased the USS Cumberland aground and pounded the stranded ship with her cannon.  Our fleet was saved from further damage only by the outgoing tide, which forced the devil ship to seek deeper water.

She returned the following day to continue her destruction, but was intercepted by the Monitor, who had sailed south the previous night.

The two ships engaged and battled for hours, each throwing all it had at the other, and neither ship flinching.  The cannon balls they threw at each other simply bounced off and landed in the water.  It was not until several hours later, the Virginia broke from the combat and, again sailed into deeper waters.  Thus, the first battle fought between iron-covered ships was declared a draw.

I realize these ships were designed, and built for the purpose of war.  They’re to be used to destroy and kill.  While I find such a use despicable, I cannot help but feel a level of pride in the men who imagined, designed, and built such a marvel as ships made of iron.

My faith demands I see the positives of such inventions.  If God has given our species the intelligence and talent to accomplish such feats to destroy each other, what unknown and still to be found abilities to we possess to help our fellow brothers and sisters?

Be safe my brothers and hurry home.

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