The Civil War Connections Blog

…she was launched successfully

When we last left John Worden, he had just taken command of a partially-built vessel that had no guns.  Each time guns designated for the Monitor would arrive, they would be commandeered by a vessel that was ready to fight, and so Worden waited.  By January 24, 1862, the guns were still not on board and Worden indicated that while he would be able to sight them within the turret, it would take three or four days to do so properly.

Of course, the ship didn’t even quite have a turret yet.

The first gun arrived on the 25th and Commodore Joseph Smith was reassured that the launch of the Monitor would take place on the 29th of January if the weather and tide cooperated.

Neither did, of course.

Ultimately, the launch occurred on January 30. Only a shell of the turret was on board—one quarter of the plates—nor was all the coal or stores on board. So the vessel floated high, but more importantly than that to most observers was the fact that she floated at all. Rescue vessels and makeshift floatation devices were on hand at Continental Ironworks…..just in case. But they weren’t needed to save either the vessel or the defiant Ericsson, who apparently rode his creation down the ways.

Both Stimers and Ericsson sent telegrams to Smith informing him of the successful launch.

The New York Times reported on the 31st: “Yesterday morning, the Ericsson battery was launched from the ship-yard of Mr. T.F. ROWLAND, Greenpoint. L.I. Notwithstanding the prognostication of many that she would break her back or else swamp, she was launched successfully.”


And so 150 years later, our friends at the Greenpoint Monitor Museum have honored the spirit of John Ericsson, Thomas Fitch Rowland, John Worden and all the workers at Continental Ironworks and beyond who launched this little ironclad, the Monitor.

USS Monitor Launch, January 30, 1862