ALERT: Dome Restoration Project Necessitates Rotunda Closure April 12 through April 28.
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Congress played an active role during the Civil War (1861–1865) through legislation, appropriations, and oversight. In 1861, Congress encouraged development of the ironclad warship the U.S.S. Monitor. Designed by Swedish-American engineer John Ericsson, it was tested in an epic encounter with the Merrimac, a Union ship the Confederates had captured, fitted with iron armor, and renamed the C.S.S. Virginia. Their March 9, 1862 battle at Hampton Roads, Virginia—the world’s first between steam-powered ironclads—revolutionized naval warfare.