In a future post, I’ll describe what went into the painting, which took well over a year to complete. I’ll also share more about the artwork in an illustrated lecture that I’ll be giving this Sunday, March 9 at the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania, as well as on Thursday, March 13 at the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. The Mariner’s Museum currently has the original painting on exhibition.
“Give them a broadside, boys, as she goes!”
The USS Cumberland went down at 3:37 p.m. on March 8, 1862, the victim of the Virginia’s (also known as the Merrimac’s) 1500 pound iron ram and a relentless barrage that covered the deck with carnage. Lieutenant George U. Morris gave the command for all hands to save themselves, but he remained on deck to encourage the decimated pivot gun crew, who took a final shot even as the waves closed around them.
To Buchanan’s request for surrender, he defiantly replied, “Never! We will sink with our colors flying.” The destruction of the Cumberland was a decisive but short-lived victory for the Confederate Navy. The Virginia, which sustained only superficial damage, survived to challenge the Monitor the following day.
Read the full series:
Sinking of the Cumberland, Part 1A: The Backstory
Sinking of the Cumberland, Part 1B: The Research
Sinking of the Cumberland, Part 2: Choosing the Scene
Sinking of the Cumberland, Part 3: Acting it Out
Sinking of the Cumberland, Part 4: Final Art