Remembering USS Monitor, Her Designer, and Their Arch Rival

Posted on
IMG_2267 - 2

In October of 1862, USS Monitor was at the Washington Navy Yard for some maintenance and repairs. A commemorative inscription was stamped onto the breech of both of Monitor‘s XI-Inch Dahlgren shell guns at this time to celebrate the Battle of Hampton Roads by recognizing the important men and vessels that participated in the conflict.

The port Dahlgren was inscribed: “WORDEN. MONITOR & MERRIMAC.”   Read more

Help Identify a Mystery Artifact

Posted on
Picture1

Over the past 13 years, NOAA archaeologists and Mariners’ Museum conservators have discovered hundreds of amazing artifacts within USS Monitor‘s revolving gun turret. Some artifacts, like the Dahlgren guns, gun carriages, and gun tools, are undergoing conservation as I type this blog entry. Others have already been fully conserved and are now on display within the USS Monitor Center at The Mariners’ Museum or have been loaned to other institutions around the country to help share Monitor‘s fascinating stories.

However, there are handful of artifacts that continue to mystify us in the lab, particularly those that have been fully conserved but not properly identified. It may sound strange or surprising that in the last 13 years we have not successfully identified every single artifact from the turret. But this is often the case when many materials are excavated from an archaeological setting.   Read more

The Port Carriage is Getting Lighter!!

Posted on

As mentioned on July 8th, several unsuccessful attempts in the removal of the wheels led us to plan B:  Disassemble the side plates by removal about 30 bolts… Fortunately, we have not had to remove every single bolt (yet), but by using Ridgid screw extractors we’ve made a great start! Removing only the bolts around the wheels released enough pressure to get us back to plan A (push and pull the wheels out).

Enjoy the following photos from last week’s work.   Read more

Gun Tool Session

Posted on

This is a nice shot by Jason from photography of the three recently conserved Dahlgren gun tools: a sponge on the left, a Robinson worm in the middle, and a shot ladle on the right. Handling the objects during the photo session reminded us of how fit the gunners had to be to do their work. The ladle weighs 22 pounds empty and without the handle. The sponge head is 15 pounds. Ouch.

Gun Carriage Rotation

Posted on
Outboard bottom

Today was a major milestone in the effort to conserve USS Monitor’s amazing artifacts. Almost 147 years after the iconic ironclad sank, conservators rotated the port gun carriage to its original upright position.

USS Monitor’s two custom-built gun carriages have been upside down since the ironclad sank on December 31, 1862. The gun carriages were discovered by archaeologists during excavations of the turret in 2002. The carriages were still secured to the 8-ton Dahlgren guns they supported during the Battle of Hampton Roads. Conservators and archaeologists carefully removed both carriages from the turret in 2004.   Read more