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The U.S.S. Monitor

The U.S.S. Monitor was one of the Union’s first ironclads. It was one of four Union ironclads commissioned in late 1861. The Monitor was invented by Swedish inventor, John Ericsson. Ericsson was born in Sweden in 1803. He moved to London in 1826, where he invented the first screw propeller. A screw propeller is an underwater propeller designed to move ships.
At that time in 1826, all steamships had wooden paddlewheels on the backs or sides. This was a problem because they presented a very easy target for enemy ships to shoot. With a screw propeller, however, it could not be so easily destroyed, as it was protected underwater. After Ericsson realized that both the propeller and the engine driving the propeller would be underwater, he wondered about the significance of a partially, or fully, submerged warship.
Thus the Monitor was born. Ericsson invented the Monitor in 1854. It was a two hulled ship, made completely of metal, with a rotating turret in the center of the deck. The upper deck would be extremely well armored, the only things above water would be the pilot house, where the ship is driven, and the turret. Everything else was protected underwater.
Now all Ericsson needed was someone to sell his blueprints to. He tried sending them to France, but all he got was a polite rejection letter. His chance finally came in 1861 when U.S. Secretary of Navy Gideon Welles asked for plans to build an ironclad. The plans for the Monitor were accepted and it was built. It was sent off mere minutes before new orders were sent, by Gideon Welles, to go to Washington D.C., instead of Hampton roads.

C.S.S. Virginia
(U.S.S. Merrimack)

The tale of the C.S.S. Virginia begins on April 20th, 1861. Three days earlier, th...

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...n’s legal prize. The army troops stationed on the land behind the Congress, however, were not in the navy. They opened fire on the Confederates going to the Congress to get survivors. Buchanan, never a man that could control his temper, was outraged. He went on deck, grabbed a gun, and fired back. A Union bullet hit him in the thigh.
With Buchanan injured, the Virginia’s executive officer took command. Leaving the Congress to burn, the executive officer attacked the U.S.S. Minnesota. Dusk was approaching, however, and the tides were moving out. For the Virginia with her 22 foot draft, or how far into the water the lowest part of a ship goes, that would be a problem.
So the Virginia withdrew, confident she could return and finish her work of destroying the blockade. None of the crew aboard the Virginia could have had any idea what was waiting for them in the morning.
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