If you are looking for something awesome to do this weekend, we have just the thing for you! This weekend at The Mariners’ Museum we are commemorating the 154th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads. Now, I know the idea of going to a Civil War battle commemoration does not necessarily sound all that exciting, but that just means that you have never been to our museum on this particular weekend. This is one of the most exciting weekends of our year! We’re going to have lectures by Civil War experts, which are going to make you realize how fascinating history can be. There’s going to be Living History demonstrations and encampments, which of course involves setting off the occasional cannon. Perhaps the best part, but I will admit to being a bit biased, is that we will be having behind the scenes tours of the USS Monitor conservation laboratory. If you come on a tour you’ll get to see up close and personal exactly what we’re doing to save the Monitor. Saturday we’ll be having our 2nd Annual Civil War Beard competition that you need to participate in or watch, either way you’ll have fun. We’re also having an iron pour outside on Saturday. You will get to see how parts of the Monitor would have been made, with fire and sand and molten metal. Sunday we’re going to unveil a full scale working replica of a USS Monitor Worthington pump. The Worthington pump replication project has been a long and winding road, and we are so excited that we get to share the final result this weekend!
Why, you may ask do we care so much about this particular battle, that there is an entire weekend of activities devoted to remembering it? Glad you asked. The Battle of Hampton Roads was the one major battle involving the USS Monitor. On March 8, 1862 the CSS Virginia, a Confederate ironclad steamed into Hampton Roads and laid waste to the Union ships, wooden ships, stationed there. This was the worst disaster endured by the US Navy until the attack on Pearl Harbor. On March 9, 1862 when the CSS Virginia came back to finish the job, it encountered the USS Monitor. For four and a half hours these two iron ships dueled in the waters of Hampton Roads. Although the battle was fought to a draw, it changed naval warfare forever, bringing an end of the age of sail and wooden ships.
You can find out all about this weekend’s events on our website. Hope to see you there!