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Portsmouth, an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the western side of the Elizabeth River, across from the City of Norfolk. It has been recognized as a good shipbuilding site since 1620 by shipbuilder John Wood, who petitioned King James I for a land grant. It was founded by Colonel William Crawford, who laid out the plan for the city and designated the four corners at the intersection of High and Court Streets to be the site of a church, a courthouse, a market, and a jail. The Virginia General Assembly established it as a town and it was named after the island city in England by the same name. The federal government owned the shipyard in Portsmouth after the American Revolution, and it was ordered burned to the ground due to the fears that the Confederacy would take it over. It was indeed taken over by the Confederates, who built the CSS Virginia using the burned out shell of the USS Merrimack. The shipyard was burned a second time when the Confederates left in May of 1862. Once the Union Army recaptured Portsmouth, they changed the name of the shipyard to Norfolk Naval Shipyard, rather than the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for two reasons: The navy wanted to avoid confusion with the shipyard by that name in Kittery, Maine, across the river from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The name Norfolk was settled on because it was in Norfolk County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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