display | more...
Legendary first duel between ironclads.

Date: 9 March, 1862 (during the American Civil War)
Place: Hampton Roads, VA
Participants: The C.S.S. Virginia (aka the C.S.S. Merrimack) vs. the U.S.S. Monitor

The C.S.S. Virginia, upon wreaking havoc on the Union blockade on the Elizabeth river near Hampton Roads - sinking the Union's Cumberland and damaging the Congress, was confronted by the U.S.S. Monitor.

Both ironclads showcased innovative designs, the Merrimack a floating tank with cannon fixed on all sides; the Monitor almost completely submerged, with two cannon on a rotating turret. They pounded at one another throughout the day, but neither ship could significantly damage the other. However, the battle signified the end of wooden warships - lumbering frigates were now obsolete and the battleship was born.

The Virginia
Weight/length: two different stats recorded: 3,200 tons, 275 ft.; and 4,500 tons, 300 ft.
Firepower: Six 9-inch smoothbores and four rifled guns of 6- and 7-inch caliber.
Engines/Movement: Horizontal, back acting; two cylinders, 72 inches in diameter, 3 ft. stroke. It took 30 minutes to do a 360 degree turn.
Crew: 160 navy, 28 marines
Armor: 4 inches of iron over 22 inches of oak - a wooden skeleton.

The Monitor
Weight/length: 1,200 tons, 172 ft.
Firepower: Two 11-inch smoothbores in a revolving, 140-ton turret (powered by a separate steam engine) capable of a 360 degree turn.
Engines/Movement: Double trunk, cylinders (2 in 1 casting); 36 inches in diameter, 27 inch stroke. Significantly more maneuverable than its Confederate counterpart.
Crew: Aproximately 60-70 crewman
Armor: The turret was armored with eight inches of iron; the roof was protected by railroad iron; the deck was covered with two inches of iron; the sides (submerged) with five inches of iron.
To be precise, the C.S.S. Virginia was built on the burnt-out shell of the U.S.S. Merrimack. U.S. troops burned much of the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia in late April 1861 before evacuating following Virginia's secession, but the destruction was incomplete. Almost all of the ships were destroyed (the hull of the Merrimack, burned to the waterline, was the only ship or ship part salvageable), but most of the armor and guns from the site itself were usable.

There was no such vessel as the C.S.S. Merrimack, and descriptions of this battle as "Monitor-Merrimack" are historically inaccurate. The ship built on the hull of the U.S.S. Merrimack was recommissioned the C.S.S. Virginia before it went out on its first foray as a Confederate warship, destroying the wooden Union vessels tooling around Hampton Roads and announcing the imminent obsolescence of wooden fleets.

Of course, historical inaccuracy didn't matter much to the Virginia Department of Transportation when Interstate 664's span from Newport News to Portsmouth, crossing waters in which the Monitor-Virginia battle occurred, was named the Monitor-Merrimack Bridge-Tunnel.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.