Monitor - Merrimack

Monitor - Merrimack (HM6O0)

Location: Newport News, VA 23607
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Country: United States of America
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N 36° 58.941', W 76° 23.764'

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The Battle of the Ironclads

— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

Lincoln viewed the March 8, 1862, sinking of the USS Congress and USS Cumberland as the greatest Union calamity since Bull Run. Union Secretary of War Edwin W. Stanton feared that "the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) would soon come up the Potomac and disperse Congress, destroy the Capitol and public buildings?" Stanton believed that "McClellan's mistaken purpose to advance by the Peninsula must be abandoned."

As the burning Congress set an eerie glow across the harbor the evening of March 8, the USS Monitor arrived in Hampton Roads. It had almost sank enroute from New York. Whereas the Virginia (Merrimack) was "an ingenious adaptation of materials at hand and a tribute to her builder's skill at improvision," the Monitor was a completely new concept of naval design created by Swedish inventor John Ericsson. Its revolving turret housed two 11-inch Dahlgrens.

On the morning of March 9, 1862, Lt. Jones was surprised to see this "cheesebox on a raft" approach the Virginia (Merrimack) from alongside of the USS Minnesota. During the next two hours the Monitor and the Virginia (Merrimack) dueled each other. The fight continued until a shell hit the Monitor's pilothouse, blinding her commander, Lt. Lorimer Worden, and causing the Monitor to break off action temporarily. Believing that the Federal ironclad had had enough and suffering from several leaks, Jones ordered the Virginia (Merrimack) back to Norfolk with the receding tide.

The two ironclads never fought each other again. The battle, however, had more immediate implications than being a major turning point in naval warfare, as the undefeated Virginia (Merrimack) blocked the James River and closed this approach to Richmond to Federal use. McClellan was concerned that the Virginia (Merrimack) might "paralyze the movement of his army" yet decided to continue the Peninsula Campaign by way of the York River.
HM NumberHM6O0
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, October 25th, 2014 at 2:58am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 375751 N 4093825
Decimal Degrees36.98235000, -76.39606667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 36° 58.941', W 76° 23.764'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds36° 58' 56.46" N, 76° 23' 45.84" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1548-1598 State Rte 167, Newport News VA 23607, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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