January 23, 1865: Battle of Trent’s Reach Begins




It is fitting that the swan song of the Confederate Navy was the battle of Trent’s Reach.  Vastly outnumbered by the Union Navy, the Confederates had fought with tenacity and aggressiveness in the teeth of overwhelming odds.  On  January 23, 1865, just after sunset, the James River Squadron under Commodore John K. Mitchell sallied forth, hoping to break through and attack City Point, the logistical base keeping Grant’s army besieging Petersburg and Richmond supplied.  Taking part in the effort was the ironclad CSS Fredericksburg II, two ironclad rams, five gunboats and three torpedo boats.  The flotilla made their way past Union Fort Brady, the fort having been poorly sited so that the cannon mounted in it could not be depressed low enough to hit the passing Confederate ships.

By 10:30 PM the Confederates reached the floating mine field at Trent’s Reach.  Clearing the mine field under Union fire took until the morning of the 24th.  In the ensuing naval battle that day between the James River Squadron and a Union Naval force supported by Union artillery batteries, the Confederates lost one gunboat and one torpedo boat sunk, and damage to 2 ironclads, 3 gunboats and 1 torpedo boats.  The Union had one ironclad damaged.  Human casualties were light:  the Union had three killed and forty wounded, and the Confederacy sustained 4-10 killed and 15 wounded.  The Confederates did not reach City Point, but they had given Grant and Lincoln one of their few anxious moments in what remained of the War.

Published in: on January 23, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on January 23, 1865: Battle of Trent’s Reach Begins  
Tags: , , , ,