In this depiction of the Battle of Hampton Roads provided by Naval History and Heritage Command, USS Monitor and CSS Virginia fire on each other. Monitor was a revolutionary vessel, designed by John Ericson, changing the course of the United States Navy. The Brooklyn-built Monitor made nautical history after being designed and assembled in 118 days, and then commissioned Feb. 25, 1862. Fighting in the first battle between two ironclads in the Battle of Hampton Roads on Mar. 9, 1862, the engagement marked the first time iron-armored ships clashed in naval warfare and signaled the end of the era of wooden ships. Its battle between the CSS Virginia proved that the age of wooden ships and sail were at an end. Though the Monitor’s confrontation with the CSS Virginia ended in a draw, the Monitor prevented the Virginia from gaining control of Hampton Roads and thus preserved the Federal blockade of the Norfolk area. The Virginia, built on the carcass of the U.S. Navy frigate USS Merrimack, was the Confederate answer to the Union’s ironclad ships. Months later, 16 sailors were lost when the Monitor sank on Dec. 31, 1862 in a storm off Cape Hatteras, N.C. Her wreck was discovered in 1974 and is now a National Marine Sanctuary.
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