John Lorimer Worden

John WordenJohn Worden John Lorimer Worden was born in Sing Sing, Westchester County, New York, on March 12, 1818. His father, Ananias Worden, was a modest farmer. At the age of 16 John Worden joined the Navy as a midshipman; his first ship was the Erie. In 1844, Worden was ordered to the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., where he compiled information from ships' logs concerning currents and weather conditions. After being promoted to Lieutenant in 1846, Worden saw extensive sea duty, largely within the Pacific Squadron.

In 1861, Worden was arrested by Confederate authorities in Montgomery, Alabama, after delivering secret orders to the Federal fleet at Fort Pickens. He was imprisoned in Montgomery for seven months until Mrs. Worden, with help from various naval officers, obtained his release through an exchange of prisoners.

On January 11, 1862, Worden was offered the command of the new ironclad Monitor being built by John Ericsson. Commodore Joseph Smith told Worden, "This vessel is an experiment. I believe you are the right sort of officer to put in command of her." On January 16, 1862, Worden reported to duty on the Monitor. As commander, Worden was in charge of mounting the ship's ordnance and assembling a crew. The Monitor left for Hampton Roads on March 6, 1862.

During the battle with the CSS Virginia on March 9, 1862, Worden stationed himself in the Monitor's pilot house. As he peered through the steering ports, a shell from the Virginia hit the pilot house. The explosion drove powder residue and metal fragments into Worden's face and eyes, severely wounding and temporarily blinding him. Command of the Monitor then passed to the Monitor's Executive Officer, Lieutenant Dana Greene. Worden was the only member of the crew of the Monitor to be wounded in the battle.

In October 1862 Worden recovered his sight and was again placed in command of a monitor, the USS Montauk. While in command of the Montauk he took part in action against Fort McAllister at Port Royal, the destruction of the CSS Nashville, and the naval assault on Fort Sumter. Following the action at Fort Sumter, Worden was relieved of sea command and served the remainder of the war overseeing construction of ironclads in New York.

Following the war, Worden served as superintendent of the Naval Academy from 1869 to 1872. He retired from the navy in 1886 as a Rear Admiral after 52 years

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!

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