USS Monitor

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USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the United States Navy during the American Civil War. She is most famous for her participation in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, the first-ever battle fought between two ironclads. The Monitor fought the ironclad CSS Virginia (the former frigate USS Merrimack) of the Confederate States Navy.

The need for an ironclad warship in the US Navy began when Virginia seceded from the Union, and ships at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk were scuttled to prevent them from falling into Confederates hands. The Merrimack was only burnt to the waterline, and was successfully raised by the Confederate States Navy (CSN). She began to be refitted into Virginia. When Gideon Welles, the secretary of the US Navy, found out about this, he created a board of three naval officers to review designs for an ironclad. Three ships were accepted, including USS Monitor, designed by the Swedish engineer John Ericsson.

Monitor's design was innovative in several respects, including one of the first rotating gun turrets on a warship. The lower part of the ship was underwater, and was largely protected by the upper part due to an overhang and sloping sides. She was also much smaller than Virginia, largely due to a lack of construction time. The keel of the Monitor was laid down on October 25, 1861, and was launched 118 days later in January 1862.



In response to news about construction of the CSS Virginia, Gideon Welles, the secretary of the United States Navy, decided that the Union would need an ironclad. Wells proposed to Congress the idea of there being a board composed of experts on ironclad ships. He was granted the authority to create this board a month later.[1]

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