On this day in 1862, the USS Monitor – the Union’s first ironclad warship – steamed out to battle the confederate ironclad CSS Virginia

In what is now known as the Battle of Hampton Roads, the ships fought for hours, many cannonballs bouncing off the ships’ enforced iron sides even when the two were touching. Ending in a draw, this battle marked the first engagement of two iron ships in American history and would forever change American warfare. Following the Battle of Hampton Roads, wooden war ships were gradually phased out and iron ships began to dominate fleets. 

Today, the USS Monitor lays at rest in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Interested in learning more? Read about the battle here or take a visit to The Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia! 

(Image: Currier and Ives, courtesy of the Library of Congress)

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