USS ''Monitor''

  • American Civil War
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

Constructed in 1861 at the start of The American Civil War (1861-1865), The ''Monitor'' was the first truly ironclad ship commissioned and built by The US Navy. Using initial engineering technology invented by Swedish inventor John Ericsson and a revolutionary revolving gun turret created by Theodore Timby – The ''Monitor'' ushered in the “Age of Sailing Iron”. She was built in a record-breaking 101 days at a cost of $275,000 (an insane cost in that Era). She weighed over 1,000 tons (displaced) and was 179 feet long. ''Monitor'' had a 40 foot beam (height) and sat almost 11 feet in the water. She was powered by multiple sources. Featured was a vibrating steam engine fueled by twin fire burning boilers. ''Monitor'' was capable of 11 miles per hour speeds (or 6 knots). She carried 50 officers and men. Her armament featured 2 rotating 11-inch Dalhgren Cannon. She was known as a “cheesebox on a raft” by her crew. Effectively built to counter the Confederate Casemate Ironclad CSS ''Virginia'' (aka the former USS ''Merrimack''), ''Monitor'' would eventually engage ''Virginia'' at The Battle of Hampton Road, Virginia.


A “first” in warfare to that date, the two Iron clad vessels fired shell upon shell upon each other. Both produced only minor damage to each other. The battle was considered a draw (although ''Virginia'' withdrew first). The engagement nonetheless ushered in the beginning of the end of The Age of Sail and the eventual start of The Age of The Battleship. The ''Monitor '' served in several other battles (providing artillery support to land based troops). Her design rapidly duplicated by The US Navy, to include many other ''Monitor''-Class ironclads (including smaller version for use in river warfare. Lost (foundered) in a storm off Cape Hatteras, she was rediscovered in 1973. Her wreck was in a poor state, but some salvage yielded a few amazing artifacts (on of which is her gun turret) – which is currently displayed at The Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia.