Today in History:

Monitor (1862-1862)

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USS Monitor, a 987-ton armored turret gunboat, was built at New York to the design of John Ericsson. She was the first of what became a large number of "monitors" in the United States and other navies. Commissioned on 25 February 1862, she soon was underway for Hampton Roads, Virginia. Monitor arrived there on 9 March, and was immediately sent into action against the Confederate ironclad Virginia , which had sunk two U.S. Navy ships the previous day. The resulting battle, the first between iron-armored warships, was a tactical draw. However, Monitor prevented the Virginia from gaining control of Hampton Roads and thus preserved the Federal blockade of the Norfolk area.

Following this historic action, Monitor remained in the Hampton Roads area and, in mid-1862 was actively employed along the James River in support of the Army's Peninsular Campaign. In late December 1862, Monitor was ordered south for further operations. Caught in a storm off Cape Hatteras, she foundered on 31 December. Her wreck was discovered in 1974 and is now a marine sanctuary. Work is presently underway to recover major components of her structure and machinery, to be followed by extensive preservation efforts and ultimate museum exhibition.

This page features selected views of USS Monitor, and provides links to comprehensive pictorial coverage on her.

For more views of and concerning this ship, representing everything pictorial we have on her, see:

  • USS Monitor -- Overall Views of the ship;
  • USS Monitor -- Views On Board -- Photographs;
  • USS Monitor -- Views On Board -- Engravings;
  • USS Monitor -- Construction;
  • Action between CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, 9 March 1862;
  • USS Monitor -- Miscellaneous Actions, April-July 1862;
  • USS Monitor -- Loss of the Ship, 31 December 1862;
  • USS Monitor -- Models and Plans;
  • USS Monitor -- Relics and Miscellaneous Documents.

    Photo #: NH 59543

    USS Monitor (1862-62)


    Watercolor by Oscar Parkes.

    Courtesy of Dr. Oscar Parkes, 1936.



    Photo #: NH 76324-KN (Color)

    USS Monitor (1862-62)


    Engraving published in Harper's Weekly, 22 March 1862.
    This copy has been hand-colored.

    Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.



    Photo #: NH 45973

    USS Monitor in action with CSS Virginia, 9 March 1862


    Aquarelle facsimile print of a painting by J.O. Davidson.

    Collection of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.



    Photo #: NH 1853

    "U.S. Gun Boats on James River covering the Retreat."


    Engraving after a drawing by C. Parsons, published by Virtue, Yorston & Company, New York, circa the later 19th Century. It depicts the ironclads Monitor and Galena bombarding Confederate forces as General McClellan's army withdraws following the Battle of Malvern Hill, 2 July 1862.
    The other two ships visible are probably USS Aroostook (beyond Monitor's bow) and USS Jacob Bell (behind Monitor, at left).



    Photo #: NH 58758

    "The Wreck of the Iron-clad 'Monitor.'"


    Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1863, depicting USS Monitor sinking in a storm off Cape Hatteras on the night of 30-31 December 1862. A boat is taking off crewmen, and USS Rhode Island is in the background.



    Photo #: NH 73688

    USS Monitor (1862-62)


    Crewmembers cooking on deck, in the James River, Virginia, 9 July 1862. Photographed by James F. Gibson.
    This view looks forward from the port quarter, with the port side blower hatch in the foreground, the two smokestacks in the middle distance and the turret beyond. The sailor standing atop the turret is holding a telescope.
    Note cookstove supported on bricks at left and awning above the turret.

    Courtesy of the Library of Congress.



    Photo #: NH 574

    USS Monitor (1862)


    Crewmen relaxing on deck, while the ship was in the James River, Virginia, on 9 July 1862. View looks forward on the starboard side, with the gun turret beyond.
    Note men playing checkers at right. Another man is reading a newspaper by the starboard smokestack.



    Photo #: NH 61923

    USS Monitor (1862)


    View on deck looking forward on the starboard side, while the ship was in the James River, Virginia, 9 July 1862. The turret, with the muzzle of one of Monitor's two XI-inch Dahlgren smoothbore guns showing, is at left. Note dents in turret armor from hits by Confederate heavy guns and crewmembers atop the turret.
    Officers at right are (left to right): Third Assistant Engineer Robinson W. Hands, Acting Master Louis N. Stodder, Second Assistant Engineer Albert B. Campbell (seated) and Acting Volunteer Lieutenant William Flye (with binoculars).
    This photograph forms a stereograph pair with Photo # NH 2780.



    Photo #: NH 50954

    USS Monitor (1862)


    General plan published in 1862, showing the ship's inboard profile, plan view below the upper deck and hull cross sections through the engine and boiler spaces.



    Online Image: 153KB; 1200 x 455 pixels

    Photo #: NH 60660

    USS Monitor (1862)


    Transverse hull section through the turret. Engraving published circa 1862, based on John Ericsson's drawings, and measurements taken from the ship.



    Photo #: NH 96723

    USS Monitor (1862)


    Photographic mosaic of the ship's remains, composed of individual photographs taken from the research ship Alcoa Seaprobe in April 1974, when Monitor's wreck was initially discovered.
    Monitor lies upside down, in badly damaged condition, off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. In this image, her bow is to the right, with her turret displaced and visible in the lower left, with the hull resting atop it.



    For more views of and concerning USS Monitor, representing everything pictorial we have on her, see:

  • USS Monitor -- Overall Views of the ship;
  • USS Monitor -- Views On Board -- Photographs;
  • USS Monitor -- Views On Board -- Engravings;
  • USS Monitor -- Construction;
  • Action between CSS Virginia and USS Monitor, 9 March 1862;
  • USS Monitor -- Miscellaneous Actions, April-July 1862;
  • USS Monitor -- Loss of the Ship, 31 December 1862;
  • USS Monitor -- Models and Plans;
  • USS Monitor -- Relics and Miscellaneous Documents.

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