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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 and the Virginia (Merrimack) dueled each other. The fight continued until a shell hit the Monitor’s pilothouse, blinding her commander,
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.
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.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
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. Touch for map. Marker is located at the Monitor-Merrimac Overlook Park. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23607, United States of America.
 
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
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.
(within shouting distance of this marker); Monitor – Merrimack Battle (within shouting distance of this marker); Camp Stuart (approx. half a mile away); The Newsome House (approx. ¾ mile away); a different marker also named Newsome House (approx. ¾ mile away); Annie Belle Daniels (approx. 0.9 miles away); Phillis Wheatley (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
 
More about this marker. The top left of the marker features a picture of the “Arrival of the CSS (sic) Monitor at Hampton Roads by J.O. Davidson.” The lower right of the marker contains a painting of the “Battle between the Ironclads. – Courtesy of The Mariner’s Museum.”
 
Also see . . .
1. The Battle of the Ironclads, 1862. EyeWitness to History.com. (Submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. Hampton Roads. CWSAC Battle Summaries. (Submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

3. Tidewater Virginia, The 1862 Peninsula Campaign
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.
. Civil War Traveler. (Submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

4. Civil War Photos. give an understanding of the advancements and limitations of the day. (Submitted on August 17, 2008, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.) 

5. John Ericsson Society, New York. The Society was founded in 1907 and incorporated under the laws of State of New York in 1934. John Ericsson: From time to time an inventor comes along who transforms an entire industry, forever changing its principal product and stimulating the development of technology. Such a man was John Ericsson. His inventions, notably incorporated in the Civil War battleship USS Monitor, marked a turning point in shipbuilding and transformed the maritime industry. A Swedish engineer and inventor of the 19th century, his research and innovations in propeller design, hot air engines and solar energy are relevant to 21st century issues. (Submitted on July 18, 2009, by Leif Brisfjord of New York, New York.) 
 
Categories. Notable EventsNotable PlacesWar, US CivilWaterways & 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 June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,689 times since then and 98 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 16, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   5, 6. submitted on August 5, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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