Construction of the Monitor
One of the sites of the Monitor’s construction in 1861-1862 was the Continental Iron Works in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, an area now famous for its hip night-life rather than its industry. The ironworks was at the west end of Calyer Street.
The story of the design and construction of the Monitor and its battle with the Merrimac is told in detail, profusely illustrated, in the opening segment of From Portraits to Puddles: New York Memorials from the Civil War to the World Trade Center Memorial (Reflecting Absence).
We Need an Ironclad!
During the Civil War, news of battles was relayed almost instantaneously by telegraph and then newspapers. (See Sherman on journalistic progress and peccadilloes.) George Templeton Strong, a lawyer in New York, wrote on February 27, 1862:
Sunday came the news that Banks had occupied Leesburg, and a few minutes later the disastrous tidings that the Merrimac was on the rampage among our frigates in Hampton Roads, smiting them down like a mailed robber-baron among naked peasants. General dismay. What next? Why should not this invulnerable marine demon breach the walls of Fortress Monroe, raise the blockade, and destroy New York and Boston? And are we yet quite sure that she cannot? The nonfeasance of the Navy Department and of Congress in leaving us unprotected by ships of the same class, after ample time and abundant warning, is denounced by everyone.
Later in same entry:
Tea at Professor Cache's, where were [Edwin] Stevens of the Hoboken Battery and Professor [Joseph] Henry of the Smithsonian. Our talk was of floating batteries and mail-clad steamers, and of the maximum time needed to finish the Stevens battery. ... Eliot and Dr. Jenkins met me with news of the advent of the Ericsson, sicut deus ex machina, and that the Merrimac, new-baptized the Virginia, is beat back to her den, more or less damaged. – George Templeton Strong, Diary, 3:209-10 (entry for 2/27/1862)
...And the Remains of the Monitor
The Monitor foundered in a storm off Cape Hatteras late in 1862, less than a year after she had been launched. In 1973 marine archeologists located the wreck of the Monitor, which is slowly being refurbished for display in the Mariners’ Museum at Newport News, Virginia.
Copyright (c) 2013 Dianne L. Durante