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Chapter 6: the Monitor class of vessels.

The reader is probably already informed that the raising of the hull of the old frigate Merrimac, at Norfolk, and placing an iron casemate upon it, created a very general alarm among the people of the North, and brought into prominence the grave question as to how that vessel could be successfully met or destroyed. The destruction of the sailing vessels Congress and Cumberland intensified the alarm, and at the same time afforded painful instances of the impotency of sailing frigates, armed with small smooth-bore guns, when an adversary plated with iron, though improvised and imperfectly constructed, so readily effected their destruction.

A vessel designed by Captain John Ericsson, named the Monitor, was built in great haste for the purpose of meeting the Merrimac. Her construction gave rise to that of a class known as ‘monitors,’ seven of which were sent to Port Royal, as soon as they could be built and equipped, for the purpose of operating against Charleston. At the time they were supposed to be if not invulnerable under the fire of the guns then in use in the forts defending Charleston, at least less liable to destruction. In relation to the effective working of their batteries no doubt existed, or was expressed by any one.

As these vessels have had their day and will pass out of the knowledge of the reader in coming years, it seems worth while to give a particular description of them.

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