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Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Monitor – Merrimack

The Battle of the Ironclads

 

— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

 
Monitor – Merrimack Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
1. Monitor – Merrimack Marker
Inscription.  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
Markers at the Monitor – Merrimack Overlook Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
2. Markers at the Monitor – Merrimack Overlook Park
Several markers and monuments are found at this location. The Monitor – Merrimack marker is on the left in this photo.
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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.

(captions)
Arrival of the CSS (sic) Monitor at Hampton Roads by J.O. Davidson.
Battle between the Ironclads. – Courtesy of The Mariner’s Museum

 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Notable EventsNotable PlacesWar, US Civil
Markers at Hampton Roads image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
3. Markers at Hampton Roads
This photo looks out on the site of the famous March 9, 1862 Battle of the Ironclads between the C.S.S. Virginia and the U.S.S. Monitor.
Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical date for this entry is March 8, 1862.
 
Location. 36° 58.941′ N, 76° 23.764′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. Marker is on 16th Street (Virginia Route 167), on the left when traveling west. Marker is located at the Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23607, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hampton Roads (here, next to this marker); Birth of Naval Aviation (within shouting distance of this marker); Monitor – Merrimack Battle (within shouting distance of this marker); Camp Stuart (approx. half a mile away); Greenlawn Cemetery (approx. 0.7 miles away); Veterans Memorial (approx. ¾ mile away); The Newsome House (approx. ¾ mile away); The Winfield-Jones House (approx. ¾ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
 
Also see . . .  The Battle of the Ironclads, 1862. EyeWitness to History.com. (Submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.) 
 
Monitor – Merrimack Overlook Park image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
4. Monitor – Merrimack Overlook Park
The naval battle fought in these waters signaled the end of the era of wooden war ships and the dawn of the age of iron naval vessels.
CSS <i>Virginia</i> commanding officers, CSN image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
5. CSS Virginia commanding officers, CSN
Capt. Franklin Buchanan was wounded and Lt. Catesby R. Jones assumed command.
USS <i>Monitor</i> commanding officers, USN image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
6. USS Monitor commanding officers, USN
Lt. John L. Worden was wounded and Lt. Dana Greene assumed command.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,942 times since then and 39 times this year. Last updated on August 28, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.   5, 6. submitted on August 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Sep. 25, 2021