Tag Archives: CSS Virginia

What’s In a (Confederate) Name?

Visitors to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis are engulfed in history. The magnificent grounds on the Severn River (known officially as “the yard”) abound in monuments, plaques, halls, and displays memorializing the nation’s naval heritage. Names of heroes … Continue reading

Posted in Memory, Monuments, Navies, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , , , , | 69 Comments

The Emergency Ironclads

In late summer 1861, the United States Navy initiated a crash program to build their first ironclad warships, leading directly to the titanic clash between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (ex USS Merrimack) in Hampton Roads on March … Continue reading

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An Ancient and Fearsome Weapon: The Ram

The ram—the main armament of sleek and swift Greek triremes powered by 180 rowers—turned back a Persian invasion at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC and launched Western Civilization. Rowing galleys ruled the Mediterranean for two more millennia, the … Continue reading

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Sink Before Surrender: The CSS Virginia Gets Underway

In the dawn of that fateful Saturday, March 8, 1862, the CSS Virginia lay alongside the Gosport Shipyard quay on the west bank of the Elizabeth River across from Norfolk, Virginia, and just upriver from Hampton Roads. The storm passed … Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: View from the Ramparts – Fortress Monroe, Virginia

In the gathering dusk of Saturday, March 8, 1862, a young Union telegrapher, John Emmet O’Brien, stood on the ramparts of Fortress Monroe on Old Point Comfort dominating the entrance to Hampton Roads, Virginia. He looked to the right and … Continue reading

Posted in Battlefields & Historic Places, ECW Weekender, National Park Service, Navies | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Around We Go: In the Monitor Turret

Lieutenant Samuel D. Greene, USN, had a problem. He was encased within a dim, claustrophobic, metal drum—20 feet in diameter—behind eight layers of bolted and riveted 1-inch-thick iron plates in charge of two immense 11-inch Dahlgren shell guns, each 13 … Continue reading

Posted in Arms & Armaments, Artillery, Battles, Emerging Civil War, Navies, Weapons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sunk In The Mill Pond: The Fate of the Ironclad Models

The model vessels floated quietly on the millpond water. On the bank, the boys aimed their toy cannon. They’d finally found a target that wouldn’t shoot back and would keep them from getting a scolding. Or so they thought… After-all, … Continue reading

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Watching the “Merrimac”

One of the joys of a historian is finding that perfect eye-witness account of momentous events, one that puts you alongside our ancestors and sees through their eyes. The following is just such a viewpoint. “IN March, 1862, I was … Continue reading

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Ironclad Superweapons of the Civil War: USS Monitor and CSS Virginia

The clash of the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862 is considered a revolutionary event in naval warfare, but neither vessel quite lived up to the ambitious expectations of its sponsors. On a hot … Continue reading

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The Historic Harbors

A couple of weeks ago I attended a leadership retreat where a speaker touted the longtime importance of Hampton Roads as a harbor and host to very important events in American history. This got me thinking: what are the most … Continue reading

Posted in Antebellum South, Battlefields & Historic Places, Economics, Navies, Ties to the War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments