Monday, March 26, 2012

Episode 104 (3-26-12): "The Cumberland and the Merrimac," by Tom Roush

Please see below (after the transcript and show notes) for links to news and upcoming events.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 26, 2012.

This week we feature another song in the theme of the role of waterways in the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars.  Have a listen for about a minute.


You’ve been listening to part of “The Cumberland and the Merrimac,” performed by Tom Roush. The song tells the story of a new naval era dawning - right in Virginia’s Hampton Roads.   On March 8, 1862, the ironclad CSS Virginia—often called the Merrimac [or Merrimack] because it was constructed upon that wooden ship’s salvaged hull—attacked a Hampton Roads blockade to restore maritime access to Richmond and Norfolk.  With its armor deflecting Union shots, the Virginia sank the USS Cumberland and forced the surrender of the USS Congress.  When the Union’s ironclad ship, the USS Monitor, arrived the next day to defend the blockade, the historic “Battle of the Ironclads” ensued.  Though no clear winner prevailed in that battle, the emergence of the Civil War ironclads forever changed naval warfare.  One hundred and fifty years later, the Hampton Roads area maintains its relevance as a hub for trade, shipbuilding, military bases, and, of course, history.  Thanks to Tom Roush for permission to use this week’s music and to Heather Vereb for writing this week’s script.

For other water sounds and music, and for more Virginia water information, visit our Web site at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  From the Virginia Water Resources Research Center in Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

Acknowledgments and Sources: The origin of the tune and lyrics of “The Cumberland and Merrimac” are anonymous.  This version of the song was arranged and performed by Tom Roush, used with permission.  The full performance of the song by Mr. Roush is available on You Tube at  More information about Mr. Roush’s music is available online at or

The first two installments in Virginia Water Radio’s series of songs about Virginia waterways in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars were Episode 101 (Week of 3-5-12) and Episode 103 (week of 3-19-12).

Information on the Battle of Hampton Roads, the formal name for the February 1862 engagement between ironclads, was taken from the Naval History and Heritage Command’s “CSS Virginia” Web site at (3/20/12).

Recent Virginia Water News
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Water Meetings and Other Events
            For events related to Virginia's water resources, please visit the Quick Guide to Virginia Water–related Conferences, Workshops, and Other Events, online at  The site includes a list of Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings occurring in the coming week.