16-2 The Earlier Years in War

Monitor vs. Merrimack

The Confederates had salvaged the Merrimack, a Union warship the Northerners had abandoned when the Confederate's seized the naval shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. The Confederates rebuilt the ship, covered it in iron plates, and named it the Virginia. On March 8, 1862, it attacked a group of Union ships of the coast of Virginia and the North's wooden ships could not damage the Merrimack. Many Northerners feared that the ship would destroy much of the Union Navy, however the North built a ironclad ship of its own called the Monitor. On march 9, these two ships exchanged fire, but neither ship could sink each other. This was a major moment in history. In the end, the Monitor was able to keep the Merrimack in its harbor, which prevented destruction of the Union fleet.