CSS Richmond was built at Gosport (Norfolk) Navy Yard to the design of John L. Porter with money and scrap iron collected by the citizens of Virginia, whose imagination had been captured by the ironclad Virginia. Consequently she was sometimes referred to as Virginia II, Virginia No. 2 or Young Virginia in the South and as Merrimack No. 2, New Merrimack or Young Merrimack by Union writers, months before the actual Virginia II was ever laid down.
Begun in March 1862, Richmond was launched on 6 May and towed up to the Confederate capital that very night to escape Federal forces again in possession of Norfolk Navy Yard and the lower James River. Richmond was thus finished at Richmond in July 1862 and placed in commission by Commodore. R. B. Pegram, CSN. Twenty-two inches of yellow pine and oak plus 4 inches of iron protected her roof and "she is ironed 3½ feet below her load lines," wrote Shipyard Superintendent John H. Burroughs.
During 1863 and early 1864 the James front was quiet but from May 1864 momentous events followed in quick succession. The Confederates had three new ironclads in Captain French Forrest's squadron there and minor actions were frequent.
During 1864 Richmond, under Lieutenant William H. Parker, CSN, took part in engagements at Dutch Gap, 13 August; Fort Harrison, 29 September-1 October; Chapin's Bluff, 22 October. On 23-24 January 1865, she was under heavy fire while aground with Virginia II above the obstructions at Trent's Reach — fortunately at an angle that encouraged Federal projectiles to ricochet harmlessly off their casemates. But Richmond's tender, the unarmored Scorpion, was severely damaged by the explosion of CSS Drewry's magazine as Drewry ended her life, lashed alongside Richmond. The ironclads withdrew under their Chapin's Bluff batteries for a few weeks but Richmond had to be destroyed by Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes, CSN, squadron commander, prior to evacuation of the capital, 3 April.
Part of the text is incorporated from the United States Navy's Dictionary of Naval Fighting Ships, a work in the public domain.