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The Battle of Hampton Roads

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The history of the battle of Hampton roads between the two ironsides ships is a remarkable era of naval warship that took place in March 8-9 1862 between USS Monitor and Merrimack CSS Virginia (Civil War Trust, 2014). It was a two day war that left a record in the history of naval war era. The battle of Hampton is also known as the battle of Monitor and Merrimack. It is known as the battle of Hampton since it was fought in Hampton roads which are in Virginia where its rivers Elizabeth and Nansemond meet river James near Norfolk City (Weider History Network (2015). The main cause of the war was due to union blockade that prevented largest cities of Virginia, Norfolk and Richmond from carrying out international trade. Every country or state has a right to defend its territories and also to protect its source of income (Ayers, & Ayers, 2012).

The country prepares its self to face the enemy therefore uses the best weapons and this evidently seen in the battle. The confederate aimed at breaking the union blockaded and therefore prepared for war (A&E Television Networks, 2015). The ships that were involved in the war were made of ironclads. The CSS Merrimack was the originally the USS Merrimack which was re-invented by the union to be of ironclad and it was designed to be able to conquer other ships (Civil War Trust, 2014). The CSS Merrimack was built with heavy iron and fitted with guns. Virginia was lucky since they found the USS Merrimack decided to re-build to a better vessel that matches with technology. They did not have the required tools or machine to make the iron-clad hence they used it has it was (Ayers, & Ayers, 2012). They fitted guns around it thus improving its state.

On 8th March 1862 the CSS Merrimack was able to attack and destroy the USS Cumberland wooden ship that was approaching and also the USS Congress. The confederate captain Franklin Buchanan was aware of the danger ahead thus he attacked the nearby Union ship (Weider History Network (2015). Franklin Buchanan the captain of CSS Merrimack was determined to destroy the USS Minnesota. He was wounded during the attacks and he therefore Catesby Roger Jones was appointed as the captain to complete his mission to destroy USS Minnesota (Ayers, & Ayers, 2012). Jones was determined and he took the CSS Merrimack to be repaired since it was already damaged during the attacks. Jones knew that he was going to destroy Minnesota since it was aground and therefore could not run nor destroy the CSS Merrimack (Civil War Trust, 2014).

Consequently, USS Monitor was in the making (Weider History Network (2015). John Ericsson designed the Monitor from the start and designed it to his own design with the permission of Lt John Worden. Ericsson build the ship in accordance to the technology and made it to be faster than the CSS Merrimack because it had lost its ram during the attack of Cumberland ship making it to be slow (Ayers, & Ayers, 2012). Unlike the CSS Merrimack which was made from the remains since Virginia had no enough resources to enable it to build a new ship. USS Monitor was also a heavy armor of iron and also had two guns on its sides. This made it possible for it to compete with CSS Merrimack which had already started its attacks on Union (Weider History Network (2015). USS Monitor was made to defend the Minnesota which was aground and awaited to be destroyed by Merrimack. The USS Monitor came in at night in Chesapeake Bay to rescue the Minnesota.

On the second day 9 March 1862, the CSS Merrimack approached the Minnesota which was aground it was not clear due to the morning fog (Civil War Trust, 2014). Jones had no idea that USS Monitor had arrived overnight until when they saw it coming towards them and they knew it was ironclad ship. The two ships began the battle which lasted for few hours since the two had no superior weapon than the other (Ayers, & Ayers, 2012). Therefore, they could not destroy each other. CSS Virginia retired and the battle was over. The union blockade was not broken since the CSS Virginia was not able to conquer the Union (A&E Television Networks, 2015). Therefore the USS Monitor was able to end the ironclad battle which was initiated by CSS Virginia.

Finally, what makes the battle of Hampton Roads to be significant is the use of ironclad ships in the battle since the other ships were made of wood (A&E Television Networks, 2015). This made a very important era of technology development and a record to be remembered for years to come. It is due to this technology that led to development of ironclad warships (Ayers, & Ayers, 2012). The making of iron ship has no stop and this is possible due to the men that came up with the innovation. Even though the later days of the two ships were not long, they served as evidence of technology improvement which has led to more and better warships (Civil War Trust, 2014). In conclusion, the era was given attention worldwide due to the use of ironclads warship and thus it is significant to the history of naval warfare. Despite of lives lost, the battle was significant in technology era and therefore making it an important aspect of history of the United States.


A&E Television Networks (2015) Battle of Hampton Roads Accessed from http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-hampton-roads on 16th January 2015

Ayers, E. L., & Ayers, E. L. (2012). American passages. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. Sheridan, R. E. (2004). Iron from the deep: The discovery and recovery of the USS Monitor. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press.

Civil War Trust (2014) Hampton Roads: March 8 – 9, 1862, Monitor vs. Merrimack, Battle of the Ironclads, Hampton Roads, Virginia accessed from http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/hampton-roads.html?tab=facts on 16th January 2015

Weider History Network (2015) Battle Of Hampton Roads: Information about the Battle Of Hampton Roads, a naval civil war battle of the American Civil War Accessed from http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-hampton-roads on 16th January 2015

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