A Painting of The Battle of Hampton Roads. The USS Monitor and The CSS Virginia On March 9, 1862, the Civil War battle of Hampton Roads between the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) heralded the beginning of a new era in naval warfare. Though indecisive, the battle marked the change from wood and sail to iron and steam.

Today, the remains of the Monitor rest on the ocean floor off North Carolina's Outer Banks, where the ship sank in a storm on December 31, 1862. Discovered in 1973, the Monitor wreck site was designated the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (MNMS) and is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The purpose of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is to preserve the historic record of this significant vessel and to interpret her role in shaping US naval history. Over the past several years NOAA has made extensive surveys of the wreck site and recovered a number of artifacts from the Monitor.

This site offers an overview of the development and career of the USS Monitor from her conception by John Ericsson, through her short career as a warship of the United States Navy, to her loss off Cape Hatteras in December 1862 and her subsequent discovery and recovery.

A Civil War Icon, A Pivotal Piece Of History

Neither the Monitor nor the Virginia was the first ironclad war vessel on the seas. The concept of providing metallic armor to wooden vessels dates back to at least the 1592, when Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Sin led a fleet of armored Kohbudson, or "turtle ships," against an invading Japanese fleet. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that true ironclad vessels were tested and adopted by the world's navies. Cheer for the sailors that rode a "cheesebox on a raft" into battle—and changed the course of history.

We're in a race to conserve history! Follow along as artifacts are uncovered and more facts are learned about the Monitor and the men who served aboard!

From the heart breaking accounts of life aboard the ironclads to thrilling descriptions of the battles recounted by those who witnessed them you're sure to learn something new!