IRONCLADS OF THE CIVIL WAR The book I read is called IRONCLADS OF THE CIVIL WAR. When you think of the Civil War you think of on land battles, but there were also many battles in the water. The Civil War introduced the Ironclads, which are huge ships made of iron with no sails and very destructive. The first built and launched ironclad was in 1855 and it was named the Merrimac. Europe just starting building ironclads and sent her to Norfolk. The Merrimac was still there when Virginia seceded from the Union in April of 1861.
The Union then sank the Merrimac and set her afire but the hull of the shop and the engines settled in the bottom of the river. The Confederates found it and raised the parts out. It took 1,500 men to work on the Merrimac. It was a very slow process because there was not many supplies or tools. The Merrimac needed needed on thousand tons of iron. It was difficult to get some because there was very few iron manufacturers anywhere in the South and there was just one able to supply enough.
The Merrimac got a small share of iron and then went to work. It took over a year to get this ship finished. The captain was Franklin Buchanan and he had 300 men for a crew. Most of the men were soldiers recently assigned out of artillery regiments. And there were very few sailors in the South, so most were clueless on where to go or what to do.
When everything was done and she began to move it looked like the Merrimac was capable of doing what she was meant to do. The Northerners were warned about this ironclad "monster" and were waiting for this moment a long time. When the Merrimac came into view she fought the Cumberland and ended up destroying it. The shell burst into the rail and knocked down nine men of the Cumberland. In the end the Merrimac destroyed the Cumberland. But no ship in the navy ever fought as hard or as brave as the Cumberland did.
Once the word got around about the ironclad everyone started to make them. France built the G loire and England built the Warrior. By the Civil War was a year old the navies were being complemented with ironclad. And the Union knew that they had to have an ironclad to ever beat the South Merrimac Captain John EricissonFrom Sweden came to the U.S. to build the first warship driven by screw propeller rather than puddle.
He was an engineer and a genius that had built many other things. For example the steam powered engine. He decided to name his mighty warship the Monitor. Ericsson's ship was different form any other vessel ever built.
He started to build in October of 1861 and the monitor was launched on Jan. 30, 1862. Captain Buchanan was going to attack the Monitor on March 6, 1862. On that same day, the Monitor left New York for Hampton Roads. The Merrimac and Monitor was compared to David and Goliath. Although the Monitor was smaller it was a lot better She was seven miles an hour compared to the Merrimac who was only five. The Merrimac had ten guns, but could only use four at a time.
The Monitor could use it 2 guns any at any position and the bore of her guns were at eleven inches in diameter Merrimac only had 9 inches. At 7: 30 a.m. the battle began. The Merrimac opened fire. She shot first, but missed the Monitor.
Monitor shot but the shells just slide off. When the Merrimac shot again it hit but no damage was done. For the next 3 hours it was noisy and not much was happening. For much of the battle the ships were in a range of 10 yards.
Most of the time clouds of smoke wreathed and the clang of shells against turrets and case mates sounded. The Merrimac fired every chance but when it hit the Monitor it did no damage. After 3 hrs, the Monitor went into the shallow water to reload for ammuniationThen when she returned to battle the Monster shot at the Merrimac and cracked the outer iron. The men at the forward gun went spinning across the deck out of shock. But no one was seriously hurt.
Then the Monitor ran the Merrimac into the mud out of the narrow channel. Her bow was lodged firmly in the mud. While confederates tried to fee. The union blasted at her but no effect.
The flaming propeller to pull her loose. The Monitor tried to hit the Merrimac in the wooden deck and make her unmanageable but when he shot he missed. As the two ships got closer the Merrimac shot at the piorthouse and blew off the metal plate that covered it and the flame and powder blew into Lieutenant Worden's eyes. His face was bloody and had to go to his cabin with surgeon's assistance. While all this was going on, the Monitor started to wonder away from the battle.
The Confer dates thought the day was theirs. They tried to go after her but the water was too shallow and the ship would have been ruined. They decided to to return to Norfolk for repairs. On April 11, 1862 the Merrimac went back down the river to see how the situation was. The Monitor was there but was told not to attack unless the South went after the Union's wooden ships. But the Merrimac was no more.
The ship was only partly armored and several feet of her wooden hull were out of the water. Since the Monitor was so close. The new Captain Josiah Tat than decided to save his crew and blew up the Merrimac. All that night they ferried ashore in her two boats.
The Monitor and the Merrimac were both "firsts" in the respect that they were the first major warships without sails. And they both played huge parts in the Civil War.