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CIVIL WAR: Clash of the Ironclads!

Civil War - Clash of the Ironclads

The American Civil War 1861-1865

—–March 8th-9th, 1862: The Battle of Hampton Roads

It is a period of Civil War.

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

Wait… No, not that Civil War…

Marvel Civil War

Not that one either…

UNION vs CONFEDERACY

The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict on American soil. A war that literally turned brother against brother and nearly tore the country apart. Almost a hundred years since the nation was forged in the crucible of the American Revolution, the United States had gone from 13 colonies to 36 states and counting. In that time there were a lot of opposing viewpoints on our country’s destiny.

Civil War soldiers - Union vs ConfederacyPresident Abraham Lincoln inherited a fractured country on the brink.

In the northern states, anti-slavery sentiment had finally caught on, while the entire economy of the southern states was based around the utilization of slaves. When Kansas was admitted into the union, it threatened to tip the balance. So in 1861, seven southern states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America, under President Jefferson Davis.

In response, Lincoln declared war against the insurrection in order to preserve the Union. And so thousands of men in super uncomfortable wool uniforms, armed with muskets and bayonets, marched towards their death…

Civil War - Conan

Age of the Ironclad!

The war broke out during the midst of the Industrial Revolution, as the world was changing faster than anyone could keep up with. Among these advancements was in Naval warfare. Steam-powered ships were on the rise so of course as with any other tech, someone decided to weaponize it. Because why not?

Early in the war, the Union began by blockading Confederate ports, cutting off their supplies. The Confederates decided to step up their game and beef up their ships. Their solution: The Iron-Clad!

The Confederates commandeered the USS Merrimac, a US Steam Frigate, renamed it the CSS Virginia and pimped it out with some serious armor and heavy artillery, mutating it into a iron-plated killing machine. It was essentially a floating tank… Meanwhile, the Union got wind of this decked-out monstrosity and decided to create their own monster: The USS Monitor! – a hulking 172-foot long behemoth-of-a-boat with a turret.

Young Frankenstein - Its Alive

On March 8th, the Confederates unleashed their secret weapon like The Kraken!

With Commodore Franklin Buchanan at the helm, the Merrimac (Virginia) slowly chugged into the Hampton Roads harbor at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay where it was welcomed by the cannon fire of FIVE heavily armed Union ships. The Merrimac took on the full barrage of cannon fire without slowing down.

The USS Cumberland - taken down by the MerrimacThe Union fleet was completely caught off guard by this ballsy move on the Confederates’ part, but soon realized that they were the ones who were hopelessly outmatched. The shells were literally bouncing off it’s iron hull – they’d never seen anything like it! When the Merrimac started firing back, they wrecked their shit up: the Merrimac completely obliterated a 50-gun frigate (the Congress), rammed and sank the Cumberland, forced the Minnesota to run aground and made quick work of the other boats.

The entire Union squadron was decimated, the Merrimac was barely dented. It was like a monster truck rolling over a row of Micro-machines. The next day however, things were about to change…

The Battle of Hampton Roads

Monitor v Merrimac

‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.’

On the morning of March 9th, 1862, the barely-sea-worthy USS Monitor came lugging around the bend to face off against its long lost ironclad brethren: it was a match made in hell. Lieutenant John L. Worden ordered the Monitor into position across the bay from the Merrimac. At 8:00 AM, the Merrimac took aim at the Minnesota right before the Monitor appeared to draw it’s fire.

When the Confederate sailors first spotted the Monitor, they didn’t know what to make of it. One guy jokingly called it ‘cheese on a raft’, right before the ship started firing heavy artillery. I’m assuming that guy quickly stopped chuckling.

The two Navies watched from the sidelines as the two metal monstrosities engaged one another in morbid fascination. These two ships-on-steroids duked it out, relentlessly blasting one another with cannon fire at point blank range! Neither one giving in, neither one giving up.

Merrimac and Monitor

Irresistible force meet immovable object.

There were a couple of factors at play: both ships were heavily armored, but neither ship had armor-piercing rounds. Both ships were state-of-the-line, but both crews were hardly trained. Both sides were relentlessly determined, but neither one had the ability to overcome the other.

So they beat the ever loving shit out of each other… for hours!

Battle of Hampton Roads

… and hours…

Battle of Hampton Roads

(Insert Jeopardy Music)

FOUR HOURS LATER – The battle was still raging without a winner in sight, both crews exhausted and weary. Towards the end of the battle though Lieutenant Worden was blinded by shrapnel, causing the Monitor to back off while the Merrimac also retreated in need of repairs.

The two ships never officially had a rematch due to both sides never agreeing to a location. The Monitor sank a few months later and the Confederates destroyed the Merrimac so that it wouldn’t end up in the hands of the Union.

Merrimac goes boom

The USS Monitor goes down

Most consider the battle a draw, while some consider it a win for the union or at least a failure on the part of the Confederates. One thing was certain: wooden ships were officially obsolete.

                                                   ERIK SLADER

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Sources:

“Reflections on the Civil War” by Bruce Catton

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/ironclads.htm

http://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-the-Monitor-and-Merrimack

http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/history/monitor-merrimack.html

http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/civil-war-overview/overview.html

Erik Slader
Erik Slader
Erik Slader is a blogger, barista, web tech, digital artist, gamer, comic book aficionado, and history buff. Creator of “Epik Fails of History” and writer for SuperheroBeach.com

5 Comments

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