Silt-Filled Turret of USS Monitor Raised From Atlantic
August 6, 2002 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Silt-Filled Turret of USS Monitor Raised From Atlantic
The silt-packed gun turret of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor was raised Monday from the Atlantic floor, nearly 140 years after the historic warship sank during a New Year's storm.

I hope this is not a repost. For any history lovers, this is fascinating.
posted by sahrens428 (10 comments total)
It's no longer in print, but you can get used copies of this book. Good beginners reading on this ship and the its arch rival, the Merrimac.
posted by dr_dank at 1:50 PM on August 6, 2002

In most of the recent news coverage about the Monitor, the Confederate ship with which the Monitor battled is referred to as the "Virginia" and not the "Merrimack." What's up with that?
posted by Durwood at 2:15 PM on August 6, 2002

There's also the recently-raised Confederate Hunley. News archive, 3-D reconstruction, Naval Historical Center, MeFi.
posted by mediareport at 2:20 PM on August 6, 2002

I got confused about that also. I didn't know what they were talking about when they were reffering to the USS Virginia.
posted by sahrens428 at 2:35 PM on August 6, 2002

The ship that fought the USS Monitor was originally a union warship, named the USS Merrimac The Merrimac was caught aground and set afire, where she burned to the waterline. The Confederates raised the lower hull, and built an ironclad vessel around it, which they named the CSS Virginia.

So, the story is correct -- it was the Virginia, nee Merrimac that fought the Monitor to a standstill, and changed naval warfare.
posted by eriko at 2:53 PM on August 6, 2002

Oops. Memory fails. The Merrimac didn't run aground -- she was scuttled and burned in the Norfolk Navy Yard to keep the Confederacy from capturing her when they took Norfolk in 1861. Didn't work -- they raised what was left and built Virginia.
posted by eriko at 3:00 PM on August 6, 2002

I saw a bit about this on tv, and they emphasized how they were risking lives to bring up the gun turret thingie.

I must be dense, but I cannot conceive of an ancient rotting gun turret that isn't causing anyone harm being more important than someone's life.

I mean, it might be nifty, and interesting to study (and surely we can take pictures of it with robots and stuff so that people don't get hurt). And if we really wanted to, we could build some kind of replica, right?

I am not saying that there isn't ever any endeavor in the world worth risking some danger, not at all.

Just wondering how much expense and risk was put towards this effort, and what the real payoff is. I mean, really. Are we going to learn anything we didn't already know, or couldn't have found out by other (cheaper, safer) means?
posted by beth at 4:02 PM on August 6, 2002

An interesting bit of Civil War trivia and Poughkeepsie, NY history: along the front steps of the Adriance Memorial Library is the "held back" prototype cannon from the Monitor, which was originally intended to be used as an additional armament, but was kept dockside over concerns of its weight being a detriment to the ironclad's speed and manouverability.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:27 PM on August 6, 2002

Well, beth, we've been raising vessels for historical purposes for at least half a century -- and it's considerably less dangerous now than it used to be. Nobody's being forced to risk their lives on this; they're probably all devoted historical divers, and/or students of naval history, for whom this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I won't begrudge them that thrill -- although my historical preservation principles make me question the risks to the artifacts involved in such a monumental raising. It doesn't always work.

It's not often realized, but the Civil War was a naval war as well as a pitched ground battle, and accounted in a few short years for more naval confrontations than anywhere else in the world between the War of 1812 and First World War. By any means, it was the peak of the ironclads and pointed the way for the later steel-hulled navies of the 20th century. (Why not earlier? Simply, the lack of sufficient propulsion.)
posted by dhartung at 4:50 PM on August 6, 2002

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