Civil War Lecture: DuPont’s Ironclad Attack on Charleston

Mariners' Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606
United States 100 Museum Drive Newport News 23606


  • Lecture price: $Free with Museum admission

On April 7, 1863, Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont sent a squadron of nine ironclads to destroy Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. This enabled his command to reach the inner harbor. The strike force included the casemated ironclad New Ironsides, the experimental tower ironclad Keokuk, and seven Passaic-class monitors. Defending Charleston were numerous forts, obstructions, torpedoes, and two ironclads: CSS Chicora and CSS Palmetto State, all under the command of General P. G. T. Beauregard. The Union hoped for a grand victory, but it was not to be. Their ironclads were pounded by Confederate forts. All seven Passaic-class monitors were heavily damaged, and the Keokuk was sunk. The defeat was so resounding that DuPont would be relieved of his command in the aftermath of this battle.