The Monitor, the Merrimack and the Sea Battle that Changed History
- Richard Snow
15th November 2016
Richard Snow, who ‘writes with verve and a keen eye’ (The New York Times Book Review), tells the thrilling story of the naval battle that changed the future of all sea power.
Few battles had more far-reaching consequences than the one fought in the harbour at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, built an iron fort containing ten heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack. The North got wind of the project when it was already advanced and, in desperation, commissioned an eccentric inventor called John Ericsson to build the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship. At the time, it was arguably the single most complicated machine ever made. Abraham Lincoln himself was closely involved with the ship’s design. Rushed through to completion in just 100 days, it mounted only two guns; but they were housed in a shot-proof revolving turret.
The ship hurried south from Brooklyn (and nearly sank twice on the voyage), only to find the Merrimack had already arrived with all guns blazing that morning, destroyed half the Union fleet – and would be back to finish the job the next day. When she returned, the Monitor was there. She fought the Merrimack to a standstill and saved the Union cause. As soon as word of the battle spread, the Royal Navy – the foremost sea power of the day – ceased work on all wooden ships. A thousand-year-old tradition ended and the path to the naval future opened.
Richly illustrated with photos, maps, and engravings, Iron Dawn is the irresistible story of these incredible war machines. The story of the Merrimack and Monitor has never been told in such immediate, compelling detail.