Civil War

USS Monitor Ironclad

Designed by John Ericsson, the USS Monitor was described as a cheesebox on a raft as her armored deck was just above the waterline she had a round turret on the deck. Aside from a small pilothouse, a detachable smokestack and a few fittings, the bulk of the ship was below the waterline to prevent damage from cannon fire. Launched on January 30, 1862, USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship in the United States Navy. She is most famous for her battle at Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862 where she fought the ironclad CSS Virginia of the Confederate States Navy. During the battle the ironclads fought for about four hours, neither one sinking or seriously damaging the other. Tactically, the battle was a draw. However, it was a strategic victory for Monitor. Virginia's mission was to break the Union blockade; that mission failed; Monitor's mission was to defend the U.S. fleet, which it did. The Virginia did however occupy the battlefield after the retreat of the USS Monitor after the captain was hit in the eyes with gunpowder. The two ironclads never again fought each other. While the design of Monitor was well suited for river combat, her low freeboard and heavy turret made her un-seaworthy in rough waters. This led to her loss in heavy seas on December 31, 1862 in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. 16 of 62 crewmen were lost in the storm. USS Monitor became the prototype for the monitor class of warship. Many more were built, including river and seagoing monitors. The last U.S. Navy monitor-class warship was struck from the Navy List in 1937. The Monitor was armed with 2 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren guns. In 1973 the wreck of the Monitor was located on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean about 16 nautical miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. In 1998 the warship's propeller was raised to the surface and on July 16, 2001 divers brought to the surface her 30 ton steam engine. In August 2002 her gun turret was recovered by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a team of U.S. Navy divers.

USS Monitor Ironclad

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CSS Virginia Ironclad

The CSS Virginia was an ironclad warship of the Confederate States Navy during the Civil War that was built using the remains of the scuttled USS Merrimack. Her most famous action was in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862 against the USS Monitor. The steam frigate USS Merrimack was ordered burned but she sank before she was completely destroyed. When the Confederates entered the naval yard, they raised the Merrimack and decided to use the engines and hull to build an ironclad ram. Rebuilt under the supervision of Captain French Forrest, the new ship was named Virginia. She had four inch thick iron deck and casement armor and ten guns (1 in the bow, 1 astern and 4 on each beam). She was also equipped with a ram. With workmen still aboard, the Virginia sortied on March 8, 1862. She engaged the USS Cumberland which sank after being rammed. However in sinking the Cumberland broke off Virginia's ram. Virginia then engaged the USS Congress which had been run aground by her captain. After a one hour gun battle Congress surrendered. With 2 guns out of action Virginia then engaged the USS Minnesota which had run aground on a sandbank trying to escape Virginia. Virginia was unable to do significant damage as her draft was too deep to let her close. Virginia then retired back to her base. On March 9, 1862 the world's first battle between ironclads took place. The smaller, nimbler Monitor was able to outmaneuver Virginia, but neither ship proved able to do significant damage, despite numerous hits. Late in the day Monitor was forced to retreat due to the captain Monitor being hit by gunpowder in his eyes. During the next two months Virginia made several sorties to Hampton Roads hoping to draw Monitor into battle. Monitor, however, was under orders not to engage. Virginia was never to fight again. On May 10, 1862 Union troops occupied Norfolk and Virginia was ordered blown up to keep her from being captured. Early on the morning of May 11, 1862, off Craney Island, fire reached her magazine and she exploded.

CSS Virginia / USS Merrimac Ironclad

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CSS Tennessee Ironclad Ram

CSS Tennessee was a 1273 ton ironclad ram armed with 2 7 in and 4 6.4 in Brooke rifles. She was laid down at Selma Alabama in October 1862, commissioned on February 16, 1864 and towed to Mobile Alabama for final fitting out. The Tennessee became the flagship of Admiral Buchanan and fought in the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. During the battle the steamed into combat against Admiral David G. Farragut's fleet of four ironclad monitors and 14 wooden steamers. Unable to ram the Union ships because of their superior speed, Tennessee delivered a vigorous fire on the Federals at close range. After the rest of the Confederate fleet was sunk and Farragut's fleet steamed up into the bay and anchored Tennessee steamed after the Federal fleet and engaged despite overwhelming odds. She became the target for the entire Union fleet. Tennessee was rammed by several ships and her steering chains were carried away by the heavy gunfire leaving her unable to maneuver. Hit repeatedly by solid shot from the Union ships and with two men killed and Admiral Buchanan and eight others wounded Tennessee was forced to surrender. After the battle the Tennessee was quickly repaired and taken into the Union navy as the USS Tennessee. She was fought in the battle to capture Fort Morgan later in August. In the autumn of 1864, Tennessee was sent to New Orleans, Louisiana, for further repairs. She then served with the U.S. Navy's Mississippi Squadron until after the end of the Civil War. On August 19 1865, Tennessee was placed out of commission and was laid up at New Orleans. She remained until November 27, 1867 when she was sold at auction for scrapping. One of her 7 inch Brooke Rifle cannons was preserved and is on display at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.

CSS Tennessee Ironclad Ram

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