The Peninsula Campaign Page31
Monitor and Merrimack Overlook

Hampton Roads Panorama

Monitor-Merrimack Overlook
16th Street & Oak Avenue, Anderson Park
Scene of the famous March 9, 1862 Battle of the Ironclads between the C.S.S. Virginia and the U.S.S. Monitor.
CSS Virginia vs USS Monitor
Civil War Naval Battle
March 9, 1862

At dawn on 9 March 1862, CSS Virginia prepared for renewed combat. The previous day, she had utterly defeated two big Federal warships, Congress and Cumberland , destroying both and killing more than 240 of their crewmen. Today, she expected to inflict a similar fate on the grounded steam frigate Minnesota and other enemy ships, probably freeing the lower Chesapeake Bay region of Union seapower and the land forces it supported. Virginia would thus contribute importantly to the Confederacy's military, and perhaps diplomatic, fortunes.
However, as they surveyed the opposite side of Hampton Roads, where the Minnesota and other potential victims awaited their fate, the Confederates realized that things were not going to be so simple. There, looking small and low near the lofty frigate, was a vessel that could only be USS Monitor , the Union Navy's own ironclad, which had arrived the previous evening after a perilous voyage from New York. Though her crew was exhausted and their ship untested, the Monitor was also preparing for action.
Undeterred, Virginia steamed out into Hampton Roads. Monitor positioned herself to protect the immobile Minnesota , and a general battle began. Both ships hammered away at each other with heavy cannon, and tried to run down and hopefully disable the other, but their iron-armored sides prevented vital damage. Virginia 's smokestack was shot away, further reducing her already modest mobility, and Monitor 's technological teething troubles hindered the effectiveness of her two eleven-inch guns, the Navy's most powerful weapons. Ammunition supply problems required her to temporarily pull away into shallower water, where the deep-drafted Virginia could not follow, but she always covered the Minnesota .
Soon after noon, Virginia gunners concentrated their fire on Monitor 's pilothouse, a small iron blockhouse near her bow. A shell hit there blinded Lieutenant John L. Worden , the Union ship's Commanding Officer, forcing another withdrawal until he could be relieved at the conn. By the time she was ready to return to the fight, Virginia had turned away toward Norfolk.

Photos/text this page courtesy of Richard Edling, PA    

(7-2007) Monitor and Merrimack Overlook


(7-2007) Enlarge Monitor and Merrimack Overlook
Small CSN Monument


(7-2007) Enlarge Monitor and Merrimack Overlook
Monitor-Merrimack: The Battle of the Ironclads


(7-2007) Enlarge Monitor and Merrimack Overlook
Hampton Roads: World's Largest Natural Harbor


(7-2007) Enlarge Monitor and Merrimack Overlook
Birth of Naval Aviation Monument


(7-2007) Monitor and Merrimack Overlook
Hampton Roads looking north
Panorama of Hampton Road

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