U.S.S. Monitor vs. C.S.S. Virginia, March 9, 1862

NOTE: The C.S.S Virginia was formally named the U.S.S. Merrimack.

Before the Civil War, warships were made of wood, which bombs could split and fires could easily destroy. In June 1861, the Secretary of the Confederate Navy, Stephen D. Mallory (a former US Senator from Florida who had built the Confederate Navy from scratch [nothing]), authorized [ordered] the rebuilding of a damaged Union ship, the U.S.S. Merrimack. Renamed the C.S.S. Virginia, the first ironclad ship in the Confederate fleet was covered in two inches of metal and featured [had] ten guns and an iron ram at its prow [front].

The Union Navy was also experimenting with ironclad ships. The first ironclad ship in the Union fleet was the U.S.S. Monitor, which was launched in January of 1862. The Monitor’s innovative [new] design included a flat deck, more than four inches of armor covering its propeller, the anchor, and all important machinery. The Monitor also had a revolving turret, or structure, mounted on its deck that housed [had inside] two eleven-inch guns, all covered in in eight inches of armor.

By April of 1862, all Confederate ports were in the hands of Union troops, with the exception of Charleston and Wilmington, North Carolina. To fight back against the Union’s domination [control of the ports], the Confederacy sent the C.S.S. Virginia on the attack. It was very successful at first, sinking five ships.

The Union sent the Monitor to fight back, and the two ironclad ships met in battle on March 9, off the coast of Virginia. It was an arduous [hard] battle that neither ship won.

Although both ships were eventually destroyed in later battles, this event marked the end of wooden naval vessels [ships].