Setting the match to a waterfront industrial facility is a very efficient way to cease its productive war capacity. The shipyard at Gosport along the shore of the Elizabeth River has suffered three separate fires: first by the British on May 15, 1779, then by the Union forces on April 21, 1861, and finally by the Confederate forces on May 10, 1862.
As late April 1862 turned into May, the Confederate command soon realized that Norfolk would not be able to be saved as Burnside approached from the southern Outer Banks and McClellan occupied the northern side of the harbor. Railroad and river routes were being squeezed that connected both Norfolk and Portsmouth.
Gosport stood as the South's principle workshop for ship building and supporting the war effort by its foundry and valuable machinery. The loss of such an industrial base would surely hamper the southern cause.
|Looking North with current building 705 seen in center|
|Union capture of cannon, circa 1862 along western boundary wall.|
|Looking from north of the drydock, ex-Building 18 in the view, circa 1864 photo.|
|Horseshoe recovered from Civil War era stables beside south-western boundary wall.|
|Actual letter written from Gosport May 15, 1862|
|Rotten Row, off of the drydock showing burnt ruins of DELAWARE & COLUMBUS.|