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The Monitor and the Merrimack


It was really the CSS Virginia that battled the USS Monitor just off Hampton Roads, Virginia on March 9, 1862. Confederate forces had raised the USS Merrimack, a powerful steam frigate that had been scuttled by Union Naval forces after the fall of the Norfolk Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Virginia. They converted her into an ironclad ship renamed the CSS Virginia.

The two iron clad ships fought a four hour duel, resulting in a draw. That day marked a major change in naval warfare however, as the iron ships were seen to be the way of the future.

The Museum features a set of ten images of the famous battle; some are steel engravings, others are lithographs or chrome lithographs (color), and there is a pen and ink drawing and a schematic of the Monitor.

When the Confederates were forced to abandon Norfolk, they were not able to lighten the Virginia sufficiently for passage up the James River and destroyed her in May of 1862. The Monitor foundered and sank in heavy seas off Cape Hatteras in December, 1862.

In 1973 scientists discovered the intact wreck of the Monitor, and the site was subsequently protected by the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. The steam engine and turret of the Monitor were recovered in 2002 for display with other artifacts at the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

Donations Wanted! Civil War Artifacts and Books

Do you have Civil War related artifacts or books that you would like to donate to the Drum Barracks? Contact Museum Director, Tara Fansler, at 310-548-7509.