USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage

USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage

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by John D. Broadwater
     
 

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A hundred and fifty years ago, naval warfare entered a new phase with the introduction of ironclad vessels. On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor, prototype of this new class of warships, fought the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, after the Virginia had ravaged the Union fleet blockading the James River, sinking larger

Overview

A hundred and fifty years ago, naval warfare entered a new phase with the introduction of ironclad vessels. On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor, prototype of this new class of warships, fought the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, after the Virginia had ravaged the Union fleet blockading the James River, sinking larger, seemingly more powerful wooden warships in a potent demonstration of the power of an armored, heavily-gunned, steam-powered warship.

In the world’s first clash between iron-armored warships, Monitor and Virginia exchanged gunfire at close range for nearly four hours. Neither inflicted serious damage on the other. While a technical stalemate, the events at Hampton Roads changed naval warfare forever. In the United States and abroad, iron and steam would soon replace wood and sail for warship construction. Less than nine months later, the now-famous Monitor was under tow, heading south to Beaufort, North Carolina, when she sank in heavy seas, with substantial loss of life.

Monitor was a total and irretrievable loss; even the location of her final resting place became a mystery. Not until 1973 was the inverted hull located, and in 1974 excavation of the wreck began, under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the US Navy. The decision to place the Monitor in a protected zone—a national marine sanctuary—marked another historic first for the vessel. The story of this decision, the raising of the turret, and the subsequent management of the historic resource adds another layer of history to the Monitor’s fascinating story.

Sidebars in the book flesh out details and add anecdotal color to the story of Monitor and of the efforts to preserve and interpret the site. Lavish illustrations (photographs, site drawings, and artifact sketches) complement the informative and highly readable account by the archaeologist who planned and directed the major expeditions that resulted in recovery of many of the Monitor’s most significant objects, as well as the remains of two Union soldiers who were only recently interred in Arlington National Cemetery, more than 150 years after their deaths.

Editorial Reviews

Nautical Research Journal - Betsy Stables

“The work reads like a National Geographic special, but provides much more detail and focus on the project during the many expeditions over nearly forty years. This book will be most useful professionally to management strategists and those focused on methodology. This book is an excellent and informative companion to the Mariners’ Museum exhibit, providing an enduring encapsulation of its creation which will last for visitors and enthusiasts long after the museum visit ends or the last page turns.”—Betsy Stables, East Carolina University, Nautical Research Journal
Director of the Institute for International Maritime Research

"USS Monitor is possibly the most widely recognized warship in naval history. Impact of Monitor''s engagement with CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia in March 1862 was felt around the world. The history of Ericsson''s celebrated "Cheese Box on a Raft" ended on 31 December 1862 when the ship was lost off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. New chapters in the ironclad''s history began to unfold in 1973 when wreckage of the historic vessel was discovered off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Each new chapter attracted international attention as archaeological investigation of the wreck progressed to include recovery of significant technological elements of design and construction that made Monitor unique. Today at the Mariner''s Museum, not far from Hampton Roads where the Monitor made history, the ship''s machinery, turret, ordnance and an extraordinary collection of artifacts are accessible to the public.

While Monitor''s story is not yet complete, Dr. John Broadwater has brought it up to date. No one could be more qualified to make that contribution. He has been intimately involved in research at the site since the first archaeological investigation of the wreck in 1974 and has directed each of the recovery projects undertaken by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. His first hand knowledge and experience brings each new chapter in Monitor''s modern history to life. It will be an exciting read for anyone interested in underwater archaeology, submerged cultural resource management, the technology applied to recovery operations and the ship that dramatically changed naval history."

--Gordon P. Watts, Director of the Institute for International Maritime Research

— Gordon P. Watts

History Wire

"lush, photo-laden volume"

— Steve Goddard

Clive Cussler

"Distinguished underwater archaeologist John Broadwater has created a definitive account of the resurrection of the warship that forever changed naval combat. He describes in fascinating detail the discovery and raising of the USS Monitor's evolutionary revolving turret and its unique steam engine. Broadwater leaves no artifact unstudied, not mystery unsolved. This is a drama as intriguing as it is spellbinding."--Clive Cussler, underwater explorer and author of the ongoing Dirk Pitt series

Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, MIT - David A. Mindell

"An important account of the Monitor's excavation and recovery by the archaeologist who led the efforts...A memoir of discovery and recovery, and the creation of a sanctuary. Broadwater's account is authoritative...An invaluable account of the Monitor's recent history...There have been many expeditions to the Monitor site, with many differing technologies and objectives. Broadwater puts them into sequence and perspective as no one else can." --David A. Mindell, Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, MIT

Director of the Institute for International Maritime Research - Gordon P. Watts

"USS Monitor is possibly the most widely recognized warship in naval history. Impact of Monitor's engagement with CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia in March 1862 was felt around the world. The history of Ericsson's celebrated "Cheese Box on a Raft" ended on 31 December 1862 when the ship was lost off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. New chapters in the ironclad's history began to unfold in 1973 when wreckage of the historic vessel was discovered off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Each new chapter attracted international attention as archaeological investigation of the wreck progressed to include recovery of significant technological elements of design and construction that made Monitor unique. Today at the Mariner's Museum, not far from Hampton Roads where the Monitor made history, the ship's machinery, turret, ordnance and an extraordinary collection of artifacts are accessible to the public. While Monitor's story is not yet complete, Dr. John Broadwater has brought it up to date. No one could be more qualified to make that contribution. He has been intimately involved in research at the site since the first archaeological investigation of the wreck in 1974 and has directed each of the recovery projects undertaken by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. His first hand knowledge and experience brings each new chapter in Monitor's modern history to life. It will be an exciting read for anyone interested in underwater archaeology, submerged cultural resource management, the technology applied to recovery operations and the ship that dramatically changed naval history."--Gordon P. Watts, Director of the Institute for International Maritime Research

History Wire - Steve Goddard

"lush, photo-laden volume"

The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord - Della Scott-Ireton

“Broadwater takes the reader along on the last leg of Monitor’s journey from warship to shipwreck to National Marine Sanctuary and museum exhibit. Broadwater produces a history and a memoir that is a fitting final tribute to Monitor’s place in American naval history and in our shared maritime heritage. In fact, perhaps the most significant contribution of this volume is the sharing of Broadwater’s very personal connection with USS Monitor. The first-person style enables Broadwater to reveal to each reader his thoughts, fears, revelations, humour, growing understanding, and sense of wonder regarding this most meaningful of shipwrecks. Sidebars present relevant nuggets of intormation and additional facts, while lavish and colourful photographs, illustrations and tables make the book as suitable for the coffee table as for the library. USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage is an interesting and illuminating read.”—The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord
The Lone Star Book Review
"This is one really nice book!...This book will be the standard for the history of the USS MONITOR."—The Lone Star Book Review
United States Naval Institute - Don Walsh
"This handsome tabletop volume is loaded with well-executed images and maps. Numerous sidebars amplify the reader's understanding of this historical ship. A large bibliography is helpful for those who want more information. Scholars will find Broadwater's book to be among the standard works on the life and times of the world's first build-for-the-purpose ironclad ship. For enthusiasts of marine archeology, naval history, and the Civil War, the book is a must-have...it will be of significant interest for general readers interested in historical action stories."—Captain Don Walsh, United States Naval Institute
United States Naval Institute - Captain Don Walsh

"This handsome tabletop volume is loaded with well-executed images and maps. Numerous sidebars amplify the reader's understanding of this historical ship. A large bibliography is helpful for those who want more information. Scholars will find Broadwater's book to be among the standard works on the life and times of the world's first build-for-the-purpose ironclad ship. For enthusiasts of marine archeology, naval history, and the Civil War, the book is a must-have . . . it will be of significant interest for general readers interested in historical action stories."--Naval History
International Journal of Nautical Archaeology - Michael McCarthy

“In this book John Broadwater presents a vivid and comprehensive account of the USS Monitor project. In exhibiting considerable skill as a story teller, John Broadwater succeeds admirably in presenting this work to a general readership. Permeating the whole operation is the career of one of the most acclaimed maritime archaeologists and ubiquitous flag-bearer for the United States’ cultural-resource-management movement in the modern era, John D. Broadwater. Broadwater certainly achieves his aims via an attractive and well-written work that is primarily designed for general readership as it permeates the bookshops during the 150th anniversary years of the vessel’s launch and loss. Ordinary Americans will certainly enjoy the work and Civil War buffs will find it entertaining and of value. Apart from the general interest in the Monitor story, this work is important for today’s practitioners and students of maritime archaeology, especially those working in the once remote field of deep-water survey and deep-water archaeological method. Throughout the work the extent and complexity of the equipment, support vessels, service personal and the size of funding attests to the importance of this wreck to the American people as a whole. Hundreds of other names and many institutions are mentioned in a similarly generous way and by this means Broadwater solves the problem all of us face over how properly to credit those who have assisted, provided their expertise or proved valuable in so many ways to a complex archaeological programme.”—Michael McCarthy, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology
From the Publisher

“This handsome tabletop volume is loaded with well-executed images and maps. Numerous sidebars amplify the reader’s understanding of this historical ship. A large bibliography is helpful for those who want more information. Scholars will find Broadwater’s book to be among the standard works on the life and times of the world’s first built-for-the-purpose ironclad ship. For enthusiasts of marine archeology, naval history, and the Civil War, the book is a must-have . . . it will be of significant interest for general readers interested in historical action stories.”   —Naval History

Oprah Magazine - Hans Konrad Van Tilburg

"USS Monitor . . . can't be beat."--Hans Konrad Van Tilburg, NOAA coordinator, Oprah Magazine
International Journal of Maritime History - John R. Bratten

"Broadwater's volume is intended for a wide audience and it will interest many, archaeologists, historians, and the public. Broadwater succeeds on all counts. This material [dive training, hull stabilization, artefact conservation] is presented both in the text and with the use of relevant and interesting sidebars. The volume is lavishly illustrated with photographs that span from the 1970s to modern times. The strength of the book is that Browad water answers questions that both archaeologists and the public have asked."--John R. Bratten, International Journal of Maritime History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781603444736
Publisher:
Texas A&M University Press
Publication date:
02/29/2012
Series:
Ed Rachal Foundation Nautical Archaeology Series
Pages:
338
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 10.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

USS Monitor

A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage


By John D. Broadwater

Texas A&M University Press

Copyright © 2012 National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60344-749-2



CHAPTER 1

"THE MONITOR IS NO MORE"


FOLLOWING NEW ORDERS

As dawn broke over the Outer Banks of North Carolina on the morning of Tuesday, December 30, 1862, the sun's dim glow silhouetted a strange procession on the cold Atlantic Ocean. Far offshore, two sidewheel steamships were slowly making their way through gentle swells as they headed south-southeast. Each steamer was towing what a casual observer might assume was an elliptical barge, each "barge" so low in the water that waves lapped over its hull. At the center of each was a large cylinder, behind which vertical projections trailed curls of smoke. The two pairs of vessels were miles apart but unmistakably traveling in company.

A closer look would have left the observer dumbfounded, for the odd "barges" being towed were the first of their kind, harbingers of a new age of fighting ships: the Union Navy's new iron-armored warships USS Monitor and USS Passaic. A brilliant Swedish-American inventor, John Ericsson, had conceived the "monitor" design for defense of harbors and inland waters. Their hulls were almost completely submerged to protect them from enemy gunfire, while their own guns and crews were shielded within heavily armored, cylindrical turrets.

On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor, prototype of this new design, had fought the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in a battle that precipitated global changes in naval warfare. Just over nine months since that battle, the now-famous Monitor was under tow, heading south to Beaufort, North Carolina, in company with USS Passaic, the first of a new class of larger and somewhat more seaworthy monitors. The previous week, on Christmas Eve, Commander John P. Bankhead, Monitor's commanding officer, had received confidential orders instructing him to "proceed in tow of the Rhode Island, with the Monitor under your command, to Beaufort, N.C., and wait further orders. Avail yourself of the first favorable weather."

Monitor was ready for the voyage. The ship had been refitted at the Washington Navy Yard in October. There, workers overhauled its hull and machinery and armored and extended its smoke pipes and fresh air funnels, raising them higher off the deck to prevent seawater from entering. To commemorate their battle with CSS Virginia, the officers had Monitor's two 11-inch Dahlgren guns engraved with "Monitor & Merrimac [sic]." Then one gun was engraved "Ericsson" for the builder, the other "Worden" for the commanding officer at the time of the battle.

Improvements continued to be made after Monitor returned to Hampton Roads the following month. The crew moved the helm to a temporary steering station atop the turret. Previously, the wheel was mounted in a pilothouse near the bow that projected several feet above the deck and was nearly always awash when underway.

Preparations for the voyage had been extensive. On March 7, during Monitor's transit from New York to Hampton Roads, a storm caused water to enter the ship at the base of the turret and down the two ventilator openings, creating problems with internal ventilation and endangering the ship and crew. Monitor's executive officer later wrote his father and brother,

[T]he sea suddenly ... came up with tremendous force through our anchor-well, and ... our hawse-pipe ... and then the water would rush through in a perfect stream, clear to our berth deck, over the wardroom table. The noise resembled the death-groans of twenty men, and was the most dismal, awful sound I have ever heard.... We began to think the 'Monitor' would never see daylight.


As a result of that experience, Monitor's officers undoubtedly paid close attention to identifying and sealing potential sources of leaks in December. As an extra precaution, the crew installed a high-capacity centrifugal water pump to enhance the ship's ability to more quickly empty the bilges if Monitor took on water.

Monitor's new surgeon, Greenville Weeks, reported that "the turret and sight holes were caulked, and every possible entrance for water made secure." Engine room fireman George Geer played an active role in those final preparations, spending most of Christmas day caulking and sealing. Geer wrote his brother that he had "secured the hatches with red lead putty and for the port holes [deck lights and, possibly, coal scuttles] I made rubber gaskets, one inch thick and in fact, had everything about the ship in the way of an opening water tight."

The turret was rotated so that the gunports faced directly to starboard, which lined up hatches in the turret deck with openings to the ship below. Then, against the builder's instructions, the crew apparently raised the turret and inserted a tarred hemp gasket or oakum packing between the turret and deck. Once the turret was lowered onto the gasket, the crew may have caulked the seam between the turret and deck as well. The port stoppers, heavy iron pendulums that closed the gun ports, were secured inside with their own ropes and pulleys; wooden bucklers (plugs) were placed in the gun ports and secured with bolts that passed through the small implement holes in the stoppers. The bucklers were caulked in place. Inside, the two guns were secured by tightening up their tackle and clamping the carriage brakes securely.

When the anchor was raised for the voyage, the crew jammed packing into the eight-inch diameter hawse pipe, where the anchor chain passed out of the ship only five inches above the waterline. Surely, the officers must have recalled the stream of water ejected from this opening during the voyage from New York, and seen to it that the hawsehole was well sealed.


FACING THE CAPE

In spite of all these preparations, as the two monitors approached Cape Hatteras on that December morning they faced a threat for which they were not designed—the perils of open sea. To ease their passage, both were under tow by sturdy, reliable sidewheel steamers—Monitor by USS Rhode Island and Passaic by USS State of Georgia. Despite the tow, both ironclads were experiencing unsettling motion. As seas began to build, both began to leak despite the extensive efforts at caulking. A light wind from the south-southwest had generated gentle swells, causing water to periodically wash across the monitors' low decks. Worse weather was on its way; cloud-banks on the horizon to the southwest were spreading across the sky.

Both ships were following courses plotted to round Cape Hatteras at a respectful distance. Even in the age of steam, mariners well knew to maintain adequate "sea room" when passing the Cape. Cape Hatteras and the shallow Diamond Shoals that extend seaward comprise the easternmost projection on the mid-Atlantic coast, often snaring ships that venture too near. Danger from the constantly-shifting shoals is compounded by the volatile and violent weather produced by the collision there of the cold, southerly-flowing Labrador Current with the warm, northerly-flowing Gulf Stream.

In spite of the treacherous shoals, Commander Stephen D. Trenchard, commanding Rhode Island, and Monitor's commanding officer, Commander John P. Bankhead, agreed to navigate as close to land as they deemed prudent. They took this riskier course to try and slip past Diamond Shoals inside the Gulf Stream, which flows north at an impressive speed of 2 to 4 knots, sufficient to significantly impede their progress. State of Georgia and Passaic, on the other hand, stood a few miles further offshore, accepting a slower pace in exchange for the relative safety of deeper water. Both steamers took frequent soundings, keeping a close watch on water depth, by which they could estimate their distance from shore.

As they continued south, both monitors began to feel the Cape's power. Colliding warm and cold water from the two opposing sea currents, along with an approaching low-pressure front, were brewing up a major storm. Rhode Island's deck officers initially estimated the wind at Force 2 from southwest by west. Although wind of Force 2 on the Beaufort Scale is only 4 to 6 knots—defined as a "light breeze" producing "small wavelets"—the complex natural forces at Hatteras obviously amplified the wind's effect. The real concern was that the ironclads under tow, heavy and riding low in the water, would become unwieldy and dangerous in any but calm seas.

At 6:40 a.m., Monitor signaled Rhode Island to heave to so that additional chafing protection could be parceled onto the two towlines. These large hawsers, 3½ and 4¾ inches in diameter and approximately 300 feet long, had begun to wear due to the constant working of the towlines in the chocks. If the towlines could not be adequately padded, they would eventually part, casting Monitor adrift. The hard work of the sailors notwithstanding, chafing continued and would become a much more serious problem before the day was done.

Further offshore, Passaic had been heading into Force 4 winds (11 to 16 knots) from the southwest since the previous evening. Passaic's logbook stated, "At 12, Cape Hatteras Light House bore West (true) distant ten miles. Moderate swell from South West." An hour later, Rhode Island "made Cape Hatteras Light House bearing W.S.W. distant 14 miles. Sounded in 13 fathoms [seventy-eight feet]."

By afternoon, as weather conditions continued to deteriorate, the four vessels drew closer together. Deck officers on State of Georgia reported seeing "the 'Monitor' ... on the starboard bow 5 miles distant.... stormy weather, with several vessels in sight." Astern, Passaic was struggling with disabled bilge pumps and clogged limbers (openings in the bilge frames that let water flow to the pumps). Passaic's logbook described the crew's struggles: "Latter part [of the noon-to-4:00 p.m. watch] making a quantity of water. One watch constantly bailing water ... and engineers and firemen employed in trying to settle the turret, but are as yet unsuccessful." Passaic's turret, like Monitor's, was held in place only by its immense weight (more than 150 tons) and a shaft coupling. It is frightening to imagine that massive turret, containing two large guns and other equipment, rising off the deck with the erratic motion of the ship and the buffeting seas, allowing water to pour through the widened gap at the turret base and into the ironclad's interior. Equally frightening is the image of men attempting to "settle" the enormous cylinder.

From 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., Passaic's log noted that the winds were unchanged and that the sea was "comparatively smooth." At 4:15 State of Georgia paused briefly to bury one of their crew at sea, Landsman William N. Kearny, who had died at 7:00 a.m. from acute laryngitis. As they paused, the crews of State of Georgia and Passaic saw Rhode Island and Monitor in the distance, inshore approximately six miles and bearing west-southwest.

On board Monitor, the officers were enjoying themselves in spite of the weather. Paymaster William F. Keeler later wrote to his wife that they gathered atop the turret and,

[A]mused ourselves for an hour or more by watching two or three sharks.... We made no water of consequence; a little trickled down about the pilot house & some began to find its way under the turret rendering it wet & cheerless below.

At 5 o'clock we sat down to dinner, every one cheerful & happy & though the sea was rolling & foaming over our heads ... all rejoicing that at last our monotonous, inactive life had ended.


Keeler's mood changed when he returned to the top of the turret around 6:30, to find the night dark and tempestuous:

We were now off Cape Hatteras, the Cape Horn of our Atlantic Coast. The wind was blowing violently; the heavy seas rolled over our bows dashing against the pilot house &, surging aft, would strike the solid turret with a force to make it tremble, sending off on either side a boiling, foaming torrent of water.


Grenville Weeks, the ships surgeon, later wrote that "the little vessel plunged through the rising waves instead of riding on them as they increased in violence ... so that, even when we considered ourselves safe, the appearance was of a vessel sinking." Weeks heard one sailor lament, "Give me an oyster-scow! Anything!—only let it be wood, and something that will float over, instead of under the water!"

Monitorsteamed close to Rhode Island and Bankhead used a speaking trumpet to shout that if Monitor needed assistance during the night they would hoist a single red lantern from the signal mast. Soon they were once again under way, maintaining a speed of 6 knots.

During the night a series of squalls passed over the convoy. Passaic's log noted that "from 6 to 8 p.m., ship laboring in head sea. Leaking badly forward in anchor well. Hands bailing water from under berth deck [beneath the turret] and passing it into fire room, and from there pumped out." Mean-while, Monitor's crew managed to remain in a good mood—even taking time to cheer at getting ahead of Passaic and being "the first iron-clad that ever rounded Cape Hatteras." Below, second assistant engineer Joseph Watters was keeping an eye on the engine and bilge pumps, while readying the auxiliary pumps for instant use.

Francis Butts, a landsman who had volunteered for duty on Monitor in November, was assisting at the helm atop the turret. He later recalled:

The vessel was making very heavy weather, riding one huge wave, plunging through the next as if shooting straight for the bottom of the ocean, and splashing down upon another with such force that her hull would tremble, and with a shock that would sometimes take us off our feet, while a fourth would leap upon us and break far above the turret, so that if we had not been protected by a rifle-armor that was securely fastened and rose to the height of a man's chest, we should of been washed away.


IRONCLADS IN DISTRESS

Shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monitor's port towline parted. The hawser had finally chafed until it broke, and Monitor began "yawing very much," and began taking in "more water around the base of the tower." Conditions were about to get worse. During the 8:00 p.m.-to-midnight watch, the situation on board each monitor became more and more critical. The wind increased to Force 4 (11 to 16 knots) out of the southwest by west, and squalls were creating periods of much stronger winds and higher seas. Commander Bankhead reported that at 8:00 p.m.,

[T]he sea ... commenced to rise very rapidly, causing the vessel to plunge heavily, completely submerging the pilot house and washing over and into the turret and at times into the blower pipes.... the under surface of the projecting armor would come down with great force ... loosening still more of the packing around [the turret's] base.


Passaic was experiencing a similar crisis. Her commanding officer, Captain Percival Drayton, later reported, "I found that the forward armor projection thumping into the sea was gradually making a large opening there, through which the water poured in a large stream." Passaic's log recorded the emergency: "frequent squalls, with rain. Ship leaking badly. All hands employed at bailing water, as before, and throwing over shot. Threw overboard 340 32-lb. shot."

On Monitor, engineer Watters reported to Bankhead that the bilge pumps were unable to keep up with the inflow of water. He recommended that they start the high-capacity centrifugal pump. Bankhead immediately ordered him to do so, but a short time later Watters reported that even with all pumps operating the water was still gaining, having risen to several inches above the engine room floor where it dampened the coal and splashed into the ash pits.

On Passaic, efforts to lighten the ship proved insufficient, especially with water continuing to enter and the pumps disabled by bilge debris. Drayton later reported that "at 10 p.m., finding that I could not stand the thumping of the heavy southwest sea, I directed the State of Georgia to run north and get a lee north of Hatteras." Passaic's log records that "at 10:30 kept the ship off before the wind to run back." Even that drastic action did not guarantee safety, and during the latter part of the watch, half of the crew was jettisoning more ballast to lighten the ship. Captain Drayton's decisions that night saved Passaic, thus avoiding a double tragedy for the Union.

At the same time Passaic began retreating to the north, Commander Bankhead received word that even with all Monitor's pumps operating, water was still rising and would soon quench the boiler fires. Once the fires were out, steam pressure would drop rapidly and the pumps would not operate. As Surgeon Weeks noted, "When [the fires] were reached, the vessel's doom was sealed; for with their extinction the pumps must cease, and all hope of keeping the Monitor above water more than an hour or two expire." Already, boiler pressure was dropping because of wet coal and the demands of all the pumps. Bankhead ordered the engines slowed to divert as much steam as possible to the pumps.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from USS Monitor by John D. Broadwater. Copyright © 2012 National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Excerpted by permission of Texas A&M University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Clive Cussler

"Distinguished underwater archaeologist John Broadwater has created a definitive account of the resurrection of the warship that forever changed naval combat. He describes in fascinating detail the discovery and raising of the USS Monitor's evolutionary revolving turret and its unique steam engine. Broadwater leaves no artifact unstudied, not mystery unsolved. This is a drama as intriguing as it is spellbinding."--Clive Cussler, underwater explorer and author of the ongoing Dirk Pitt series

Meet the Author

John D. Broadwater recently retired from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, where he had served as chief archaeologist. He has contributed chapters in several books and for more than a dozen years was manager of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, where he directed seven major expeditions to the remains of the Civil War ironclad warship. He holds a PhD in marine studies from the University of St. Andrews. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RickSpil More than 1 year ago
On December 31, 1862 while under tow in a gale off Cape Hatteras, USS Monitor sank. The Monitor had been in service for only ten months and yet in that brief time had revolutionized naval warfare. The wreck of the Monitor was finally located in August of 1973. In his book, USS Monitor – A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage, John Broadwater tells the remarkable story of the ship and of the dedicated teams of archeologists, historians, divers and engineers who worked over the last forty years to preserve the ship and to rescue what could be saved from the wreck. Broadwater is uniquely qualified to tell the story of the “ship that changed everything.” He was the only person involved in the Monitor from the discovery of the wreck in 1973 through preservation, management and the recovery of the portions of the ship being preserved ashore today. He recently retired from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, where he served as chief archaeologist. It is difficult to overstate the importance of the USS Monitor. The Federal Navy had nothing that would be able to stop the Confederate ironclad, CSS Virginia, built from the hull and machinery of the ex-steam frigate, USS Merrimack. Only the genius of the Swedish engineer and inventor John Ericson, who delivered the radical USS Monitor in just over 100 days, stopped the Confederate monster. The battle between USS Monitor and CSS Virginia ended in a draw, and yet the four hour slugging match between the two ironclads on March 9, 1861, made all the wooden navies in the world instantly obsolete. USS Monitor – A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage tells the story of the revolutionary ship, from its conception, to its preservation over 150 years later. The account is big, sweeping and complex – part history, part mystery, and part high adventure, as well as being a major engineering and organizational puzzle to be solved. Broadwater does a fine job in presenting the story in manageable portions without overwhelming the reader. Initially, the book alternates between the history of the ship in 1861 and the discovery of the wreck site in 1973. Then, the book settles into an alternating pattern of descriptions of the planning and organizing for each major dive season, followed by fascinating and often harrowing descriptions of the challenges of diving on the wreck, 240 feet underwater, off the treacherous Cape Hatteras coast. The book is beautifully illustrated, and replete with photographs and interesting sidebars, detailing various aspects of the history, discovery and preservation of the ship. USS Monitor – A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage is a fascinating story, well told, of a ship that changed history and of those who worked long and diligently to preserve her. Highly recommended. Why no voting buttons? We don't let customers vote on their own reviews, so the voting buttons appear only when you look at reviews submitted by others.