Ironclad warships in combat, 1862

Ironclad warships in combat, 1862

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Credit: US NAVY/Naval History and Heritage Command/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Ironclad warships in combat. USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fire on each other at the Battle of Hampton Roads, Virginia, 9th March 1862. This engagement occurred during the American Civil War, and it was the first meeting in combat of ironclad warships. It signalled the end of the era of wooden ships. USS Monitor was a revolutionary vessel, powered by steam with a revolving gun turret. She was designed by John Ericsson for the Union and assembled in 101 days. The Virginia, built on the carcass of the US Navy frigate USS Merrimack, was the Confederate answer to the Union's ironclad ships. Though the confrontation was inconclusive, with neither ship able to sink the other after three hours of exchanging fire, the Monitor prevented the Virginia from gaining control of Hampton Roads and thus preserved the Union's blockade of the area.

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