On March 8–9, 1862, the ironclad CSS Virginia attacked the Union blockade squadron in Hampton Roads, Virginia, changing the course of naval warfare forever.
The CSS Virginia had formerly been the USS Merrimack, but when the Federals had been forced to abandon Gosport Shipyard (the modern-day Norfolk Naval Shipyard) in 1861, they had scuttled the steam frigate. However, it had only burned to the waterline, preserving the hull and engines. The Confederates refloated the hull and built a superstructure on top with sloping wooden sides covered in iron. They planned to use the newly christened Virginia to break the Union blockade.
Nearly simultaneously, the Union was building its own ironclad vessel, but from scratch. The iron steamer, named the USS Monitor, was nearly completely submerged in the water, except for its deck and revolving gun turret.
On the Virginia’s maiden voyage, it decided to attack the Federal ships in Hampton Roads, the Virginian waterway where three rivers converged before entering Chesapeake Bay. On March 8, the Virginia (along with the gunboats sailing with it) steamed into Hampton Roads and launched its attack, decimating some of the Union ships while sustaining only superficial damage itself, as its iron armor caused shots to more or less bounce off it.
Before it could take on the other Union ships, the tide forced the Virginia to retire for the night, and when it returned the following morning, it found that the USS Monitor had arrived in the night to protect the remaining Union ships. The Monitor and the Virginia dueled for about four hours, during which neither ship sustained serious damage, each protected by their iron plates.
Finally, the Monitor pulled away to assess the vessel’s damage, leading the Virginia to believe the other ship was leaving the battle. After the Virginia likewise departed, the Monitor returned only to find the Virginia gone. This confusion caused both sides to declare victory, though historians typically agree the battle was a draw.
Though the Battle of Hampton Roads prevented the Virginia from achieving its objective, the real significance of the battle was its demonstration that wooden ships stood no chance against ironclads, almost instantly outdating navies around the globe.
MIA Update: The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Office announced the identification of the remains of three sailors and one Marine who had been missing in action since World War II.
Returning home for burial with full military honors are:
Navy Seaman 2nd Class Vernon N. Grow and Machinist's Mate 1st Class Alfred F. Wells, had been missing since Dec. 7, 1941, when the battleship USS Oklahoma they were aboard suffered multiple torpedo hits and capsized as it was moored off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Wells, 32, will be buried June 11 in his hometown of Syracuse, N.Y.
Marine Corps Pfc. John Saini and Navy Pharmacist’s Mate 3rd Class Howard P. Brisbane had died fighting on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa on Nov. 20, 1943. Saini, 20, was assigned to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, and will be buried June 11 in his hometown of Healdsburg, Calif. Brisbane was assigned to Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.
Col. Whicker of Dixie High School's AFJROTC has advised us of a message from the mother of one of his cadets who has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. He was chosen to represent at a Summit in DC next month, and he’d like to take a bunch of letters from any Veterans who suffer from arthritis. The letter and link follow:
Chris and I are traveling to DC in March for Advocacy Summit. This year our focus has been on our veterans. 1 in 3 have Arthritis. We are asking all of the people we know who have Arthritis to fill out a virtual letter and submit it. The foundation is them compiling those, and Chris and I will be hand delivering those to our Utah Representatives. If you can lend us your voice, that would be great. Deadline is March 3. Feel free to share with anyone else that you know. We would love to deliver a lot of letters.
More about the Advocacy Summit on Arthritis HERE: