On March 8 and 9, 1862, a sea battle off the Virginia coast changed naval warfare forever.
It began when the Confederate States Navy’s CSS Virginia led a task force to break the Union blockade of Hampton Roads. The Virginia sank the USS Cumberland and forced the frigate Congress to surrender. Damaged by shore batteries, the Virginia retreated, returning the next day to find her way blocked by the newly arrived USS Monitor.
The clash of ironclads was underway. After fighting for nine hours, both ships withdrew, neither seriously damaged, with both sides claiming victory. Although the battle may have been a draw and the Monitor sank in a storm later that year, this first encounter between powered, ironclad warships spelled the end of wooden warships—and the dawn of a new navy.
This book takes a new look at this historic battle. The ten original essays, written by leading historians, explore every aspect of the battle—from the building of the warships and life aboard these “iron coffins” to tactics,
strategy, and the debates about who really won the battle of Hampton Roads. Co-published with The Mariners’ Museum, home to the USS Monitor Center, this authoritative guide to the military, political, technological, and cultural dimensions of this historic battle also features a portfolio of classic lithographs, drawings, and paintings.
Harold Holzer is one of the country’s leading experts on the Civil War. His books include Lincoln and Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President and, for Fordham, Lincoln on Democracy (co-edited with Mario M. Cuomo) and The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The Complete, Unexpurgated Text.
Tim Mulligan's books include Virginia: A History and Guide.