150th Anniversary news articles

150th Anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads

 battle of hampton roads re-enactors
 Photos from previous Battle of Hampton Roads events. (Photos: The Mariners' Museum)

March 9, 2012, marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads. Please join The Mariners' Museum and the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary as we commemorate and celebrate this momentous occasion. For details of the four day celebration visit http://www.battleofhamptonroads.com/

What is the Battle of Hampton Roads?

On Saturday, March 8, 1862, the Confederate ironclad, CSS Virginia left safe harbor and entered the Elizabeth River. Those observing her departure kept eerily silent as this strange new ship made her debut. The banks of the river were crowded with people as they watched the Virginia steam toward battle. Saturdays were laundry days for Union crews, and as the Virginia arrived, the riggings of the wooden ships were festooned with blue and white clothing, drying in the late winter sun.

 battle of hampton roads re-enactors
The men of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, had grown weary of waiting for the Virginia, but now they scrambled to prepare for battle. In the panic of the moment, and with the tide at ebb, several vessels ran aground, including the USS Congress and the USS Minnesota.

Soon the Virginia destroyed the USS Cumberland and the USS Congress. Finally, as darkness began to fall, the Virginia returned to her moorings to wait until morning to finish the destruction. In a few short hours, she had demonstrated the supremacy of iron over wood.

Later that evening, the USS Monitor arrived to see the havoc and destruction caused by the Virginia. They worked through the night to prepare the ship for battle. Then in the early morning on March 9, the Monitor steamed out to meet the Virginia marking the first time that iron met iron.

Read more about the Battle of Hampton Roads.


Map of where the USS Monitor lies.

The USS Monitor lies in approximately 240 feet of water just 16 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Click here for a larger map. (Courtesy NOAA)

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The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was the first sanctuary of what now includes 14 marine protected areas in U.S. waters. The sanctuary system spans from Thunder Bay in the Great Lakes (the only fresh water sanctuary), to Fagatele Bay in American Samoa. With over 150,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes waters protected, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries works to conserve, protect, and enhance the biodiversity, ecological integrity, and cultural legacy of these special underwater places. (Courtesy NOAA) Click here for a larger map.

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