The USS Monitor

Learn about the USS monitor, a civil war warship.

In the early week of August 1861, naval officials placed advertisements into newspapers for designers. The navy's main purpose was to have inventors and designers to help them build an iron clad warship to demolish the Confederate's navy. In the latter part of August, John Ericcson, stepped forth. His letter to President Lincoln stated he could design a warship in which it would and could destroy the Confederate Iron Clad naval vessels.

Prior to his letter to the president, John Ericsson had already become well known for his genius inventions. In 1843, Ericsson built the USS Princeton. As the USS Princeton was shown to top naval officials in 1844, her guns were fired. There was a terrible mishap in which the Secretary of America was fatally wounded as other officials and bystanders. This left a bad impression of Ericsson and his inventions. He was never fully compensated for the sums he was promised for building the USS Princeton. Ericsson was also indirectly blamed for the explosion aboard his newly designed ship and the fatalities.

The plans for his warship was given to Napoleon the 3rd first hand. Napoleon declined Ericsson's offer and so the plans went unnoticed until the advertisement in newspapers. Ericsson showed his plans to Captain Cornielus Bushnell. Bushnell became intrigued with the idea of Ericsson's designs and plans for this warship. Bushnell had extensive talks with other top naval officials and to the his relief, Bushnell succeeded. It took a lot of wheelings and dealings to get the naval officials to agree with the new plans. Racing against time, Union officials placed their concerns of Ericsson's past behind them. They commissioned Ericsson to design a vessel for the Union forces. Ericsson placed his payment in front of the top officials. He requested $275,000 for his designs and inventions. Ericsson also explained he could have it completed by the deadline the naval officials had asked for. Naval officials agreed. Ericsson set forth to redeem himself and prove he could do it.

With the plans in his hands, Ericsson traveled back to New York to begin the tedious pressure of building the iron clad warship. The ship would be 172 feet in length. There would be two 12 inch guns placed in the newly invented turret. This turret had never been seen before. A revolving piece of works that allowed the weaponery to be fired in all directions at a high rate of speed. The design for the turret itself was approxmately 20 feet in the interior area. It could be lifted up from its position as well as lowered. This invention alone could possibly destroy the Confederate navy. The interior portion of the ship was built with oak planks while the wood itself was protected by iron plates. These iron plates (2 plates each), were 1/2 inch thick each. The upper part of the ship was also encased with the iron as well as its hull. Different parts of the ship had as much as 5 inches of iron wrapping the wood. The design and look of the ship, was odd. It looked like a submarine but had the capabilities of a ship.

On January 20, 1862, the vessel was finally completed. It was 3 weeks over the deadline of the original proposal. Ericsson named his ship, the USS MONITOR. The iron clad warship was finally launched. She slowly slip into the East River on January 30, 1862. With naval officials looking on, the warship made her presence known. The USS Monitor was ready for battle and Ericsson knew he had the respect of the top officials.

After the kinks had been worked out, the USS Monitor was ready to be released in battle. On February 25, 1862, the USS Monitor was released to the Department of the Navy and she was to set sail to Hampton, Virginia. On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor would change the course of American history forever. The USS Monitor had met the infamous CSS VIRGINIA at the mouth of the James River. The CSS Virginia was already at battle when the USS Monitor entered the tragic scene. The CSS Virginia, had already crippled and sunk several of the Union's naval vessels. These vessels included the USS Congress and the USS Cumberland. The USS Monitor placed itself between the CSS Virginia and the ship, USS Minnesota.

During the USS Monitor's existance, she had 6 commanding officers as well as a crew up to 141.

On December 31, 1862, a gale force storm ended her life. The infamous USS Monitor sank off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Commanding Officers

BANKHEAD, John Pyne, Commander

JEFFERS, William Nicholson, Lt. Cdr.

SELFRIDGE, Thomas Oliver Jr., Lieut.

STEVENS, Thomas Holdup Commander

WORDEN, John. Lorimer, Captain

(Green, Samuel Dana, Lieutenant; assumed command after Worden was wounded during the battle with the CSS Virginia on March 9, 1862.   He was replaced by Selfridge on March 12.


*ALLEN, William, Landsman

ANDERSON, Hans A., Seaman

ANJIER, Richard, Quarter Master

ATKINS, John, Seaman

BASTING, Anton, Seaman

BRINGMAN, Derick, Carpenter's Mate

BRODIE, Peter H., Drummer Boy

BROWN, Edmund, 1st Cl. Fireman

BROWN, John, Seaman

*BRYAN, William, Yeoman

BURROWS, George W., Landsman

BUTTS, Francis Banister, Landsman

BYRNES, Michael

CANN, Edward, 1st Cl. Boy

CAREY, James H.

CARROLL, Thomas (No. 1), Capt. of Hold

CARROLL, Thomas, (No. 2), 1st Cl. Boy

CARTER, Siah, 1st Cl. Boy

COLEMAN, James/William, Landsman

CONKLING, John P., Quarter Gunner

CONNOLY, Anthony, Seaman

*COOK, Robert, 1st Cl. Boy

CORWEY, John/James, 2nd Cl. Fireman

CROWN, James/Joseph, Gunner's Mate

CUDDEBACK, David, Captain's Stewart

DRISCOLL, John A., 1st Cl. Fireman

DURST, William, Coal Heaver

*EAGAN, William H., Landsman

ELLIS, David Roberts, Coal Heaver

FAY, Lawrence

FEENY, Thomas, Coal Heaver

FENTON, Andrew

*FENWICK, James R., Quarter Gunner

FISHER, Hugh, 1st Cl. Fireman

GARRETY, John, 1st Cl. Fireman

GEER, George S., 1st Cl. Fireman

HALMAN, William, S., Surgeon's Stwd.

HANNAN, Patrick, 1st Cl. Fireman

HARDY, John, Seaman

HARRISON, Henry, Seaman

*HOWARD, Robert H., Officer's Cook

JEFFREY, William H., Officer's Stwd.

*JOYCE, Thomas, 1st Cl. Fireman

JONES, Jesse M., Surgeon's Steward

LEONARD, Mathew, 1st Cl. Fireman

*LITTLEFIELD, George, Coal Heaver

LOUGHRAN, Thomas, Seaman

MALONE, James, Landsman

MARION, William, Quarter Master

MASON, John, Coal Heaver

MONAGHAN, John, Landsman

MOONEY, Michael, 2nd Cl. Fireman

*MOORE, Daniel, Landsman

MOORE, Edward, Wardroom Clerk

MORRISON, William, Coal Heaver

MURRAY, Lawrence, Wardroom Steward

McPHERSON, Norman, Seaman

NICHOLS, William H., Officer's Stwd.

*NICKLIS, Jacob, Seaman

PETERSON, Charles/Philip, Qtr. Mstr.

PRICE, Christy, 2nd CI. Fireman


QUINN, Robert, 2nd CI. Fireman

REMINGTON, William H., Coal Heaver

RICHARDSON, William, 1st Cl. Fireman

RIDDEY, Francis A., Seaman

ROONEY, John, Master at Arms

SCOTT, Isaac, Seaman

SCOTT, William, 1st Cl. Boy

SEERY, James, Coal Heaver

SINCLAIR, Henry, Ship's Cook

SLOVER, James T., Pilot

SMITH, Charles, Coal Heaver

SMITH, James, Coal Heaver

STEARNS, Moses M., Quarter Master

*STOCKING, John, Boatswain's Male

SYLVESTER, Charles F., Seaman

TESTER, Abraham, 1st Cl. Fireman

TOFFEY, Daniel, Captain's Clerk

TRUSCOTT, Peter, Quarter Master

VIALL, Thomas Brown, Seaman

WELCH, Daniel, Seaman

WHITE, George H. 2nd Asst. Eng.

WILLIAMS, Peter, Act. master's Mate

On 3 April 1863, the Medal of Honor  was given to

Peter Williams for his role in the battle on

9 March 1862. As the quartermaster, Williams

was at the helm. When a shell from the

Virginia slammed into the pilot house

and blinded Captain Worden, Williams never left his post.

*WILLIAMS, Robert, 1st Class Fireman


*ATTWATER, Norman Knox, Act. Ensign

CAMPBELL, Albert B., 2nd Asst. Eng.

FLYE, William, Act. Volunteer Lieut.

*FREDERICKSON, George, Act. Ensign

GAGER, Edwin V., Acting Master

GREENE, Samuel Dana, Lieutenant

*HANDS, Robinson, W., 2rd Asst. Eng.

HOWARD, Samuel P., Acting Master

HUBBELL, Robert Knox, Acting Ensign

KEELER, Wm. F., Act. Asst. Pay Mtr.

*LEWIS, Samuel Augee, 3rd Asst. Eng.

LOGUE, Daniel C., Act. Asst.Surgeon

MECKLY, Thomas W., Act. Asst. Surgeon

NEWTON, Isaac, Jr., 1st Asst. Eng.

PARK, William Dunlap, 3rd Asst. Eng.

STIMERS, Alban C., Chief Engineer

WATTERS, Joseph, 3rd Asst. Eng.

WEBBER, John Joshua N., Act. Master

WEEKS, Grenville M., Act. Asst. Srgn.

STODDER, Louis N., 3rd Asst. Eng.

SUNSTROM, Mark T., 3rd Asst. Eng.

The astericks denote the crew who persished when the USS Monitor sank on December 31, 1862.

In August of 1973, the famous wreckage was possibly found. During a trip back to the wreckage in April, 1974, it was confirmed it was the USS Monitor. Historical facts and designs were able to help the archeologists determine the remains of the USS Monitor. It was the infamous turret that signaled her existance at the bottom of the Atlantic. In 1974, the US Government sanctioned the wreckage of the USS Monitor. Efforts of lifting the USS Monitor have proved to be wonderous. Many artifacts have been lifted from the cold waters: lamps, parts of the ship, as well as pieces of metal plates from the USS Monitor.

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