The USS Monitor Center Blog

Doc Holloway Does Ironclads Differently

Think you know everything there is to know about your favorite Civil War ironclads and the Battle of Hampton Roads? Well, can you sing me a tune about the Monitor? Or how about recite some poetry about the Virginia?

 

Have I stumped you yet?

 

If so, join us this Saturday (September 6 @ 2:30pm) in The Mariners’ Museum’s Explorers Theater to hear a fun and creative presentation titled “Musical Monitors and Melodius Merrimacs: The Battle of Hampton Roads in Music and Poetry“.

Grand-March

Dr. Anna Holloway, Curator of the USS Monitor Center, will drop some new knowledge on us while she dazzles our ears and minds with a unique interpretation of the Battle of Hampton Roads. Get ready for an entertaining event.

 

This special presentation is free for Museum Members or with paid admission. See you there!

Thank you

We would like to say thank you to the members of the Chiefs Select Program from the USS Eisenhower and the USS Maryland. They came out to the museum last week and cleaned up the USS Monitor replica. This is a great group that volunteers annually at The Mariners’ Museum. We really appreciate all of the assistance they provide. Thanks so much.

 

"Members

 

Power washing the replica. It looks fantastic, all clean and shiny.

Power washing the replica. It looks fantastic, all clean and shiny.

 

Scrapping up dirt and debris from under the replica.

Scraping up dirt and debris from under the replica.

A good week

There were two exciting events for the Monitor conservation team this week. The first is that we finished the last of the work that needed to be done in the Tank Farm. It was very satisfying to see the end result of four months of outdoor labor. The six tanks out in the Tank Farm had their contents reorganized, new anodes installed and new solutions prepared. The final step for each tank was to cover it with a tarp.

Our second event came as an opportunity to drive down and visit the conservation laboratory of the Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project. The conservators gave us a great tour of their lab where they are treating  the artifacts excavated from what is believed to be the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. For those unfamiliar with the Queen Anne’s Revenge, it sank in 1718 and was the flagship of Edward Teach, who was also known as Blackbeard. If you want to learn more about the Queen Anne’s Revenge, you should check out the project’s website, located here.

Work completed in all of the tanks.

A tidy Tank Farm with all work complete.

 

A line of tarp covered tanks.

A line of tarp covered tanks.

 

Have a great weekend. Check back to the blog soon for more updates on lab activities.

12 Years Ago Today

​On August 5, 2002, experts from NOAA, the United States Navy, and The Mariners’ Museum achieved something many people thought was impossible — the recovery of USS Monitor‘s 120-ton revolving gun turret from the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

Image Courtesy of U.S. Navy.

Image Courtesy of U.S. Navy.

Although 12 years isn’t a milestone anniversary, the recovery is still an epic achievement that should be noted and celebrated. Even the History Channel joined us today in recognizing this major feat of underwater archaeology:
Here are a few additional images of this wrought iron beauty:
turr ovr hd small
Image Courtesy of Epic Scan.

Image Courtesy of Epic Scan.

Happy Turret 12th to The Mariners’ Museum, NOAA, U.S. Navy, and everybody involved with the recovery!

Summer in the tank farm

It is difficult to believe that it is already August. The summer is just flying by. Most days we are out in the Tank farm and the work is going well. We finished two tanks in July. Tanks 2 and 5 have new anodes, new racks and are filled with new solutions, and that leaves us just one more to go. We’re hoping to finish all work out in the tank farm by the end of August at the latest. Then it will be on to the skeg. As for what exactly a skeg is, if you check back to the blog soon you will find out.

Lowering a new rack for cast iron pieces into place

Lowering a new rack for cast iron pieces into place

 

Cast iron objects placed on their new rack.

Cast iron objects placed on their new rack.

 

Rearrangement inside Tank 2 almost complete. The hanging orange cylinders are reference electrodes.

Rearrangement inside Tank 2 almost complete. The hanging orange cylinders are reference electrodes.

 

Organization of Tank 2 complete and beginning to fill with new chemical solution.

Organization of Tank 2 complete and beginning to fill with water.

 

Tank 5 complete. The white powder on the edge of some of the objects is sodium hydroxide that has not completely dissolved yet.

Tank 5 complete and ready to be filled with water. The white powder on the edge of some of the objects is sodium hydroxide that has not completely dissolved yet.

 

A Quest for Identity

The Mariners’ Museum and NOAA have a strong, ongoing desire to positively identify two sets of human remains recovered from Monitor‘s gun turret in 2002. Experts have documented and studied the remains, extracted viable DNA for comparison with modern samples, and attempted to verify the sailors’ identities. Unfortunately no matches have been found to date. With all information gathered and stored for future use, the remains were buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on March 8, 2013.

Lack of positive identification hasn’t stopped Mariners’ and NOAA staff and the general public from trying to learn more about Monitor‘s sailors. Prior to burial of the remains, experts at LSU’s FACES Lab reconstructed both sailors’ faces using scientific and artistic methods. LSU staff believe their reconstructions have a strong resemblance to the original sailors, and they have had an over 90% success rate in identifying modern remains based upon their facial reconstructions. So we can state with some confidence that LSU’s facial reconstructions of USS Monitor sailors have a likeness to the original men who gave their lives on December 31, 1862.

120306-N-WE887-003

Facial reconstructions generated by LSU’s FACES Lab from the remains of two sailors recovered from USS Monitor’s gun turret.

Although we do not have pictures of every sailor that served aboard USS Monitor, we are fortunate to have a few images that were produced aboard the ironclad on July 9, 1862 by a photographer named Gibson. One of the images depicts officers sitting casually but proudly in front of the revolving gun turret.

officersondeckweb

Now I want you to do something a bit strange. Please ignore the men sitting in front of the turret. Yes, ignore them. Focus your attention on the top-right portion of the image. Note the man sitting atop the turret smoking a pipe, third from the right. You can only see his head, neck, and left shoulder. I know this is a bit of a stretch, but I believe he resembles the younger of the two sailors whose remains were discovered aboard USS Monitor. Maybe not a perfect match, but somewhat similar in appearance. Here is a closer look at that sailor with the facial reconstruction included for a side-by-side comparison:

Maybe

What do you think? Is this a possible match? Are you a descendant of a Monitor sailor? Your comments and opinions are important. Please get in touch and let us know what you think.

 

 

 

Best Jigsaw Puzzle Ever

Summer work out in the tank farm continues. Last week we drained and began reorganizing Tank 2. The first objects we focused on were pieces of diamond plate cast iron flooring, which we believe came from the engine room. We spent part of an afternoon seeing how many of these pieces would have originally fit together. If we could determine this now, reassembly once conservation is complete will be much easier. We discovered we have nearly three full sections of diamond plate flooring that we will be able to reassemble.

Here you can see the pieces from three sections of diamond plate laid out in their original orientation.

Here you can see the pieces from three sections of diamond plate laid out in their original orientation.

Check back to the blog soon as we will have more updates as the summer progresses. Happy Independence Day!

Wooden Gun Carriage Sides

Some of you may remember that in the fall we spent some time doing maintenance on the wooden gun carriage sides from the disassembled gun carriage. Last week while Will was away at the annual AIC conference, Mike and I changed the solutions in these tanks, installed an anode and wired the carriage sides so that the iron bolts still inside the wood would be protected by impressed current. This is the same method being used to protect the metal components on the still assembled gun carriage, which can be viewed via the wet lab web cam here.

Newly constructed stainless steel mesh anode waiting to be installed.

Newly constructed stainless steel mesh anode waiting to be installed.

One of the wooden gun carriage sides before last week's maintenance.

One of the wooden gun carriage sides before last week’s maintenance.

Anode installed and everything wired in, just needs a new solution.

Anode installed and everything wired in, just needs a new solution.

Work completed on one gun carriage side.

Work completed on one gun carriage side.

Installation complete on both gun carriage sides.

Installation complete on both gun carriage sides.

Check back soon to see updates about ongoing work in the lab.

 

 

 

 

Great News!

We had some fabulous news here in the lab this week. Our former intern Jessica, who wrote the great post on archival box making, has just accepted a job as a museum technician at James Madison’s Montpelier. Congratulations Jessica. We are all so proud of you. Best of luck as you start this new adventure, you will be brilliant.

Copper, Corrosion, and Craftsmanship

These are some detailed photos of copper and copper alloy artifacts recovered from USS Monitor‘s engine room in 2001. We are currently mitigating the effects of corrosion. We continue to marvel at the amazing level of craftsmanship and detail that went into each object. These humble, industrial artifacts are works of art.

Rivets 2

Main Steam

Valve

Holes

Ragged

Rivets

Railing