Military Trader

THE JAG FILE

“MONITOR VERSUS THE MERRIMACK”

On October 4, 1861, the United States Navy authorized construction of the first ironclad ship, the USS Monitor. Whereas only the most stalwart of US Navy historians or Civil War buffs will recognize the 159th anniversary, the story of the USS Monitor does stir a long-held, special memory for me.

THE FIRST AMERICAN IRONCLAD

The USS Monitor was an iron-hulled, steam-powered ironclad warship built for the Union Navy (United States Navy) during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Designed by the Swedish-born engineer and inventor John Ericsson, shipbuilders completed construction in only 101 days.

The impetus to build the ironclad were news reports that the Confederates had salvaged the scuttled USS and were converting it into an iron-plated ship at the old Federal naval shipyard Gosport (near Norfolk, Va.) If the reports were correct, the new Confederate vessel, rechristened the CSS , would be able to engage and break the Union blockade at Hampton Roads Harbor and open the James River to Richmond.

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