On March 9, 1862, an epic battle was fought that not only affected the course of the Civil War, it forever changed the face of naval warfare. A unique conjunction of technology and events brought the Monitor and Merrimac together on that day in Hampton Roads in the first battle of ironclad ships. However, they would never have met had it not been for the engineering genius and determination of one man -- John Ericsson -- and for an extraordinary series of coincidences.
"Monitor" is the fascinating saga of the most famous ship in American history, of the Union it helped preserve and the revolution it wrought. But it is in every way a human story. Ericsson had had an idea for a mobile ironclad as far back as 1826, and waited 35 frustrating years for someone to commission his vision, for the costs were extraordinary. In the summer of 1861, the time became right. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, desperate for an answer to the Merrimac, which the Confederates were armoring, turned to venture capitalist Cornelius Bushnell for advice. Bushnell was led to Ericsson, recognized his genius, and used all his persuasive powers to gain Ericsson, whom the Navy mistrusted deeply, the chance to build his ship. Her assembly at break-neck speed, arrival in Hampton Roads, stand-off with the Merrimac, and ultimate demise 8 months later are the stuff of legend. Her impact was revolutionary: filled with more than 40 patentable inventions, the Monitor made every other navy on earth obsolete the moment she opened fire.
Author: James Tertius de Kay
Title: Monitor: The Story of the Revolutionary Ship and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History
First Published by: Walker & Company