Monitor and Merrimac.
At the moment when the Confederates
a strange naval battle occurred in Hampton Roads
The Confederates had raised the sunken Merrimac
in the Gosport navy-yard and converted it into an iron-clad ram, which they called the Virginia
, commanded by Captain Buchanan
, late of the United States navy.
She had gone down to Hampton Roads
and destroyed (March 8, 1862) the wooden
sailing frigates Congress
, at the mouth of the James River
, and it was expected she would annihilate other ships there the next morning.
Anxiously the army and navy officers of that vicinity passed the night of the 8th, for there appeared no competent human agency near to avert the threatened disaster.
Meanwhile another vessel of novel form and aspect had been constructed at Greenpoint
, L. I., under the direction of the eminent engineer, Capt. John Ericsson
(q. v.). It was a dwarf in appearance by the side of the Merrimac
It presented to the eye, when afloat, a simple platform,
sharp at both ends, and bearing in its centre a round Martello
tower 20 feet in diameter and 10 feet in height, made, as
Interior of the monitor's turret.|
was the rest of the vessel, of heavy iron.
It presented a bomb-proof fort, in which were mounted two 11-inch Dahlgren
The hull of this vessel was only 8 1/2 feet in depth, with a flat bottom, and was 124 feet in length, and 34 feet the greatest width at top. On this hull rested another, 5 feet in height, that extended over the lower one 3 feet 7 inches all around, excepting at the ends, where it projected 25 feet, by which protection was afforded
the anchor, propeller, and rudder.
The whole was built of 3-inch iron, and was very buoyant.
Its exposed parts were guarded by a wall of white oak, 30 inches in thickness, on which was laid iron armor 6 inches in thickness.
A shot to strike the lower hull would have to pass through 25 feet of water, and then strike an inclined plane of iron at an angle of about 10°. The deck was well armed also.
Such was the strange craft that entered Hampton Roads
from the sea, under the command of Lieut. John L. Worden
(q. v.), unheralded and unknown, at a little past midnight, March 9, on its trial trip.
It had been named Monitor
It had been towed to the Roads
by steamers, outriding a tremendous gale.
reported to the flag-officer
of the fleet in the Roads
, and was ordered to aid the Minnesota
in the expected encounter with the Merrimac
in the morning.
It was a bright Sabbath morning.
Before sunrise the dreaded Merrimac
and her company came down from Norfolk
The stern guns of the Minnesota
opened upon the formidable ironclad, when the little Monitor
, which the Confederates
called in derision a “cheesebox,” ran out and placed herself by the side of the huge monster.
She was like a pigmy by the side of a giant.
Suddenly her mysterious citadel began to revolve, and from it her guns hurled ponderous
shot in quick succession.
answered by heavy broadsides, and so they struggled for some time without injuring each other.
Then the Monitor
withdrew a little to seek a vulnerable part of her antagonist, while the Merrimac
pounded her awfully, sometimes sending upon her masses of iron weighing 200 pounds at a velocity of 200 feet per second.
These struck her deck and tower without harming them, and conical bolts that struck the latter glanced off as pebbles would fly from solid granite.
drew off and attacked the Minnesota
Seeing the latter in great peril, the Monitor
The New Ironsides and monitor.|
A most severe duel ensued, and as a result the Merrimac
was so much disabled that she fled up to Norfolk
, and did not again invite her little antagonist to combat.
was severely injured by concussion in the tower of the Monitor
, and for a few days his life was in peril.
This class of vessels was multiplied in the National
navy, and did good service.
A comparison of the appearance of the two vessels may be made in looking at the engraving of the New Ironsides
the New Ironsides
was a powerful vessel built in Philadelphia
It had a wooden hull covered with iron plates four inches in thickness.
Her aggregate weight of guns was 284,000 lbs., two of them 200-pounder Parrott guns.
She had two horizontal steam-engines
, and was furnished with sails.
At her bow was a formidable wrought-iron ram or beak.
She was accidentally set on fire and destroyed at her moorings at League Island, below Philadelphia
, Dec. 15, 1866.