The Bob Zentz Songbook



Ironclads Suite

From Horizons

Music by Stephen Foster (“The Glendy Burke,” 1860), lyrics © 2005, 2010 Bob Zentz



1.  The Merrimac, a steamed-sailed frigate, burned to the water-line  (D-A-D-G-D-A)
They towed her into the Gosport yard and they clad her all in iron  (D-A-D-G-D-A-D)
They fitted her with ten fine guns, port, starboard, fore and aft   (D-A-D-G-D-A)
And then attached a cast-iron ram to the bow of this strange craft  (D-A-D-G-D-A-D)


     (First chorus)  And they called her Virginia, and a first rate job they made  (D-G-D-D-A-D)

     When she steamed into Hampton Roads to break the Yank blockade  (D-G-D-G-D-A-D)

2.  On March the eighth, ’62 she steamed from Portsmouth town
A sailor on the Congress said, “That thing is coming down”
Broadsides with the Congress then, the Cumberland she plied
Fought and rammed and sank her as the shot bounced off her sides

3.  With the sinking of the Cumberland, the Congress ran aground
Virginia kept on firing ‘til they ran their colors down
But before she could surrender fire from Union troops ashore

Wounded Virginia’s skipper, on ‘em hot-shot he let pour

4.  With Congress ablaze, Cumberland sunk, Minnesota run aground
Virginia retired to Sewell’s Point, at the tide, the night came down
To help the wounded make repairs and pass the night away

Then finish Minnesota off next morning on the Bay


     (Second chorus)  And hurrah for Virginia, she’d won the day with ease

     And for that day the Confederacy was monarch of the seas  (repeat first chorus)


5.  But all that day, a vessel towed along Virginia’s shores

At night slipped into Chesapeake Bay and turned the tide of the war

Low in the water, turret on top, with a pilothouse near the bow

Lay behind the Minnesota, just a’waitin’ for the row


     (Third chorus)  Then huzzah for the Monitor, to quarters we did beat

     As she sailed into Chesapeake Bay to preserve the Union fleet

6.  March 9th dawned clear on Hampton Roads and people lined the shore

From Sewell’s Point to Fort Monroe, just to hear the cannon roar

Virginia sailed in the Roads, for Minnesota steered

When from the cover of her portside the strangest sight appeared  (chorus 3)


7.  Some called it Ericsson’s folly, a cheese-box on a raft

Or a tin can on a shingle, Rebel sailors scoffed and laughed

For the next four hours, these ships engaged, ‘round and ‘round they fought

Virginia’s sides were greased with lard, so the shells just bounced right off


8.  All through the smoke in the cannon’s fire they tangled in that fray

‘Til Worden, he was wounded, and both ships turned away

Was it timing, politics, or spies, or just the fine spring weather

Fate, fortune or coincidence that flung these ships together


9.  Now each side thought the other had lost, and each side thought they’d won

But the victor was steam and armor-plate and revolving turret guns

So here’s to Captains Catesby Jones, Buchanan, Worden, too

And to sailors who would learn to fight with a different point of view


     (Fourth chorus)  And the duel of the ironclads was an awesome sight to see

     ‘Twas wooden warships lost the day to an ironclad victory (repeat)



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