Skip to comments.Confederate Ironclad May Have Been Found (CSS Virginia aka Merrimac)
Posted on 04/30/2003 4:53:48 PM PDT by SpringheelJack
PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- An underwater survey found what might be remnants of the Confederate ironclad warship Virginia, the former USS Merrimack that fought the Union's ironclad Monitor in the 1862 battle that redefined naval warfare.
"It would be a stroke of incredible luck to discover it after all these years," said Dick Hoffeditz, curator of the Virginia War Museum in Newport News.
The underwater survey, for the proposed construction of a marine terminal on the Elizabeth River, describes two shipwrecks in the area and says there is "a distinct possibility" that they might be parts of the Virginia and of a schooner that hit the submerged wreck and sank next to it.
The Monitor and the Virginia -- which was built on part of the salvaged hull of a Union sailing ship, the USS Merrimack -- fought a pounding battle near Newport News on March 9, 1862.
It was the first clash of wooden ships armored with steel plates to repel cannon balls. Most historians consider the four-hour battle a draw.
On May 11, 1862, the Virginia ran aground near Craney Island. After the crew was evacuated, the ship was set afire, detonating the 16,000 pounds of black powder in the ship's magazine. Documents show that salvage companies later removed two boilers and parts of the wooden hull.
What was left of the ship was again blown up, and some sections were dragged to the Navy Yard in Portsmouth.
Several parts of the Virginia survive in museums, including dented armor and the ship's wheel at the Mariners' Museum, and an anchor and part of a propeller shaft at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has called for a follow-up investigation to decide if the wreck spotted in the survey is the Virginia. If it is, federal and state laws require that the ship's remains be removed before any dredging can take place.
The Monitor sank at the end of 1862, landing upside down in 240 feet of water, 16 miles off Hatteras, N.C. A joint Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration team has raised the Monitor's turret and other parts.
The Mariners' Museum in Newport News has custody of Monitor artifacts.
On the Net:
Monitor Center: http://www.monitorcenter.org
Mariners' Museum: http://www.mariner.org/
I wonder if he got banned because of his home page.....I was reading it earlier this afternoon....it was somewhat bizarre.
That is a good one. Read up on Farragut's opinions on the monitor class. FYI, it wasn't "ships sink all the time, what the hell".
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