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Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series

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USS Monitor

A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage

John D. Broadwater

On March 9, 1862, USS Monitor, prototype of a new class of armored warships, fought the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, only a day after Virginia had ravaged the Union fleet blockading the James River.   The events at Hampton Roads changed the world’s navies. After centuries of dominating battles at sea, wooden, sail-powered warships would be rendered obsolete. The harbinger of that change did not last long, however. Less than nine months later, the now-famous Monitor was under tow, heading south to Beaufort, North Carolina, when, in heavy seas, the vessel sank, taking sixteen of its crew with it. Monitor was considered at the time to be a total and irretrievable loss; even the location of its final resting place became a mystery. Not until 1973 was the inverted hulk located, and in 1995, partial recovery of the wreck began under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the US Navy. The story of the subsequent protection and management of the historic resource, and the raising of major hull components including the gun turret, add another layer of history to the Monitor’s fascinating story.   Lavish illustrations (photographs, site drawings, and artifact sketches) complement this informative and highly readable account. Naval warfare buffs, amateurs and professionals involved in maritime archaeology, and Civil War aficionados will be intrigued and informed by USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage. Published with support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

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