Monitor vs Virginia

In one of the most famous naval battles in history the Union Monitor defeated the Confederate Virginia. It was the first battle between two steel navy ships and marked the end of the wood based navy.



 

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When the Confederates seized the navy base at Norfolk they came into possession of the hull of the frigate USS Merrimack. They raised the hull and outfitted it with thick steel plate surrounding it. They thus created the first ironclad. Word that the south was creating a ship that might threaten the union blockade fleet soon reached the North. In August Congress forced the Union navies hand when it enacted a law directing the building of three ironclads. John Ericsson reluctantly submitted a bid for a radical design. It was a lightly armored small craft that was highly maneuverable, and had a heavily armored turret that could fire in any direction.

 

On March 8th the CSS Virginia was ready to sail. It steamed out of Norfolk harbor and headed for the Union blockade fleet at the mouth of the James at Hampton Roads. Five Union ship were waiting there. The Virginia headed for the first the Cumberland, shelled her and then rammed her sending the ship to the bottom. She then turned to the Congress, who was helpless against her onslaught. All the while the shells of the Union ships bounced harmlessly off the Virginia. Next on her list was the Minnesota, which had run aground. However, the Virginia's draft was too deep to allow her to close on the Virginia. The Virginia retired for the night planning to finish off the Union fleet in the morning.

 

The next morning when the Virginia returned to finish its handiwork, it was surprised to discover a new strange vessel near the Minnesota. A crewman from the Virginia recounted- "we though at first it was a raft on which one of the Minnesota's boilers was being taken to shore for repairs". That raft soon came out and fired on the Merrimack. Hour after hour the two ships slugged it out, neither side achieving a decisive advantage. Finally both ships withdrew. The day had ended in a draw. It was however a strategic victory of the Union, as its fleet had been saved and the Virginia was bottled up in the James River. The day of the wooden navy was over.

Wood's Account

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo taken on July 9, 1862 of the officers of the USS Monitor.

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This photo taken on July 9, 1862 is captioned: James River, Virginia. Captain W.N. Jeffers on deck of U.S.S. MONITOR

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Color painting of crew

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This painting was commissioned by the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. It celebrates the use of steel and states in the caption:"This fight settled the fate fo the "Wooden Walls" of the World and taught all nations that the War-Ships of the future must be like the McCormick Harvester a Machine of Steel.

rebel

This painting was commissioned by the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. It celebrates the use of steel and states in the caption:"This fight settled the fate fo the "Wooden Walls" of the World and taught all nations that the War-Ships of the future must be like the McCormick Harvester a Machine of Steel.

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This Black and White illustrations of the battle with all the other ships in the harbor

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This illustration by Currier and Ives is titled: Terrific combat between the "Monitor" 2 guns & "Merrimac" 10 guns The first fight between iron clad ships of war, in Hampton Roads, March 9th 1862, in which the little "Monitor" whipped the "Merrimac" and the whole " school" of Rebel steamers.

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This color Illustration by Currier and Ives titled Monitor 2 Guns and Meets Merrimac 11 Guns

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Unknown Origin