Hand-colored lithograph, “Terrific combat between the ‘Monitor’…& ‘Merrimac,’” New York: Currier & Ives, 1862
This depiction of the Monitor (foreground) and the Merrimac shows the Monitor’s low hull and rotating two-gun turret. The previous day, the Merrimac had sunk two wooden Union frigates and captured another, nearly ending the Union blockade of Norfolk, Virginia. Though this duel of ironclads left both ships damaged, the Monitor preserved the blockade.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
The Monitor and the Merrimac - 1
The 37th and 38th Congresses (1861–1865) played an active role during the Civil War 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, was tested in an 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.