Army of Northern Virginia: February to September 1862

McClellan’s Command

What was the naval battle like between the Monitor and the Virginia?

The CSS Virginia edged her way out of port on the morning of March 9, 1862, and encountered the USS Monitor. The Confederate crew was amazed by the smallness of this enemy ship and believed at first they could pound it into submission. Time and again, however, the Monitor’s diminutive size proved an asset rather than a liability.

The first battle between ironclad naval ships in world history occurred during the Civil War, when the CSS Virginia (left; formerly the Merrimack) fought the USS Monitor (right) to a draw.


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