Battle of Hampton Roads
A decade ago naval warfare changed forever in the two-day Battle of Hampton Roads between the Elizabeth and James River. Cannon shots rang out for endless hours and those present on surrounding shores witnessed history when, for the first time, two ironclad ships entered into battle. The Confederates, protecting their naval yard just south of Hampton Roads, decided to place their undefeatable ship, the CSS Virginia, at the mouth of the river. On the first day of battle this ship was responsible for the death of 400 hundred sailors while only losing two of its own. On the second day, hearing the booms of heavy cannon fire up river the USS Monitor, on a test run, changed course and moved to defend the union. The result was a terrific battle ending in stalemate as both ships claimed victory. Now, over ten years later the details of this historic encounter have finally been deciphered. The two ships have a vastly different history. The confederates, plundering an old Union shipyard that had been razed in a fire, managed to save an old steam powered frigate previously known as the USS Merrimack. Hoping to beat the Union’s far superior naval power the Confederate’s secretary of navy advocated the idea of reinventing armor in battle. His engineers reused the intact steam engines of the burnt USS Merrimack and attached two-inch thick sheets of metal onto the wooden hull. In response the union decided that their own ironclad would need to immediately be created. Engineers designed three brand new ships to be built. The first to be finished was the USS Monitor. A unique design never seen before it was armed with a rotating turret in the center of the ship with a single 11inch cannon. The CSS Virginia began the battle on March eighth steaming into Hampton roads at full speed backed by the Raleigh, Beaufort, James River Squadron, Patrick Henry, Jamestown and Teaser. They were facing five Union War ships (each bigger than any of confederate ships...
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