Ironclads at Sea

"Monitor & Merrimack" by Grace, age 5
We recently visited the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, VA. The museum just opened their USS Monitor Center, which tells the story of the historic battle of the ironclads during the Civil War. The jewel of the exhibit is the turret off the Monitor, reclaimed from the bottom of the ocean off Cape Hatteras, NC. Our children loved this museum and learned much about this famed battle. Did you know that the Merrimack was the Union's name for the ship? When Virginia seceeded from the Union, the shipyard at Portsmouth housed the mighty USS Merrimack. Rather than these this powerful naval ship to the Confederates, the fleeing shipbuilders burned her down. They did this while she was in the water, so everything below the waterline remained intact, and proved to be just what the Southern shipbuilders needed for their idea of an ironclad warship. They named their rebuilt vessel the CSS Virginia. The Virginia destroyed two Union warships before the historic March 9 battle. Four hours later the battle was a draw, but naval history was forever changed. The Monitor sunk less than a year later in a storm on the Atlantic. Her deck was only 18 inches above sea level; not designed to weather the high waves of the open sea. The CSS Virginia was later destroyed by her own builders to prevent advancing Union forces from seizing her. (In Grace's picture above, the Virginia is on the left and seems to be the less advanced vessel as she's shooting away from the Monitor!)

1 comment:

  1. You know, the submarine births (from the Narwhal) that you see at the museum are the ones right next to where Conrad slept aboard that submarine.
    Amazing that the space is so small.