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Battle of Hampton Roads Series

A monumental milestone is on the horizon this year as The Mariners’ Museum and Park commemorates the 160th Anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads, where the clash between iron and wood changed naval warfare forever!

In partnership with NOAA and the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology, the Museum will kick off the commemoration with a FREE virtual lecture on Wednesday, March 9. John V. Quarstein will dive into the 160-year-old question, “Who Won the Battle of Hampton Roads?” Or join us in person on Saturday for an action-packed day of activities, including an archeological dig, and meet Museum team members stationed in the galleries to share stories of Monitor artifacts from our Collection!

For more information, contact: [email protected] or call (757) 596-2222.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

FREE virtual Submerged NC Webinar Series in partnership with NOAA’s MONITOR National Marine Sanctuary and the NC Office of State Archaeology.

Civil War Lecture:
And the Winner is … Who Won the Battle of Hampton Roads?

Presenters: NOAA, John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, and the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology

About the presentation:
On March 9, 1862, the Battle of Hampton Roads was over by midday. This engagement changed naval warfare forever and was the first conflict between ironclads. Both North and South declared victory; yet, neither side admitted the battle was a draw. While USS Monitor claimed victory because it had stopped the Confederate ironclads from destroying any more Union wooden warships. CSS Virginia also claimed success because it had damaged Monitor, destroyed five ships, and remained the defender of Norfolk and the James River during the first two months of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign.

Submerged NC webinars are part of the National Marine Sanctuaries webinar series and are brought to you by NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology.

Friday March 11, 2022

Civil War Lecture:
Admiral Franklin Buchanan: Sink Before Surrender!


Presenter: John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

About the presentation:
Admiral Franklin Buchanan served in the US Navy for 45 years. His dynamic career witnessed his establishing the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, fighting with distinction during the Mexican War, and commanding USS Susquehanna during the Perry Expedition to Japan. He was commandant of the Washington Navy Yard when the Civil War began. He resigned his commission after the Baltimore Riot on May 19, 1861. Eventually, he joined the Confederate navy. Buchanan was named commander of the James River Defenses with CSS Virginia as his flagship. On March 8, 1862, he led Virginia as the ironclad destroyed USS Cumberland and USS Congress. Wounded during that engagement, he was detailed as commander of the Confederate fleet defending Mobile Bay, Alabama, and was forced to surrender his flagship, CSS Tennessee II, on August 5, 1864.

Advance registration is required whether attending the lecture in person or online.

Attending in person?
This program is free with $1 admission, and free for Mariners’ Museum Members. Seating is limited, and chairs will be spaced out for social distancing in compliance with current CDC safety protocols for COVID-19.
Watching remotely?
This program is free to watch online, and you may register below.


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Battle of Hampton Roads IN-PERSON Museum activities

Free with $1 admission. Free for Mariners’ Museum Members.

A fun-filled day for families! 

Spend an action-packed day at The Mariners’ Museum and Park as we commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads where the clash between iron and wood changed naval warfare forever! Come meet Museum team members stationed in the galleries to share inspiring stories of Monitor from our Collection as well as lots of family-friendly activities.

What’s in my cannon?

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. • McMullen Classroom

Get ready to roll up your sleeves for this fun hands-on activity to determine what clues to Monitor‘s history you might discover!

Kids of all ages are invited to participate in a STEM-based archeological dig using replicas of cannons found at USS Monitor‘s wreck site. Learn to build a tool to dig out the cannon’s concretion (also known as a thick, sandy build-up), and uncover what artifacts may be inside.

Watch our gun boring video from 2020 when the Museum meticulously cleaned the inside of the 11-foot-long bores of Monitor’s Dahlgren guns using a custom boring machine and holding apparatus built by the Museum and Master Machine and Tool of Newport News.

First Clash between Ironclads: Monitor vs. Virginia

Main Lobby | 11 a.m. 

Presenter: John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

Join author and historian John V. Quarstein for a Civil War lecture, where he shares details of the epic battle between the ironclads 160 years ago.

About the presentation:
When USS Monitor arrived in Hampton Roads, Virginia, on the evening of March 8, 1862, the harbor was aglow with flames from the burning USS Congress. CSS Virginia had wreaked havoc upon the Union’s wooden warships earlier that day. All appeared lost for the Federals. Monitor, that “cheese box on a raft,” proved it could block the Confederate ironclad from destroying any more US Navy vessels. On March 9, 1862, the first clash between armorclads was staged, changing naval warfare forever. Despite their successes, neither ship survived 1862.

Registration not required.
Free for Mariners’ Museum Members or with $1 admission.

Two Decades Conserving an Ironclad: An Overview of the Conservation of USS Monitor

Main Lobby | 1 p.m.

Presenter: Will Hoffman, director of conservation and chief conservator

Come learn about the discovery of USS Monitor and the recovery efforts undertaken to maintain the iconic Civil War ironclad in the past two decades from Will Hoffman.

About the presentation:
In 1987, The Mariners’ Museum and Park partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to be the repository of artifacts raised from the United States’ first National Marine Sanctuary. Starting in the late 1990s, archaeologists from NOAA, partnering with the US Navy, began a major effort to recover the most significant components and artifacts from the wreck site of USS Monitor (1862); the first ironclad commissioned by the US Navy. Objects retrieved from the vessel encompassed nearly the entire engineering section and its iconic revolving gun turret. With the arrival of Monitor’s turret in 2002, the Museum currently houses more than 210 tons of archaeological material.

This lecture includes an overview of the Monitor conservation efforts to date, including the establishment of the USS Monitor Center and Batten Conservation Complex. Learn about the treatment of several high-profile objects as well as future conservation steps.

Registration not required.
Free for Mariners’ Museum Members or with $1 admission.

Book signing with John V. Quarstein

12 – 12:45 p.m. & 2 – 3 p.m. • Museum Shop

Come meet John V. Quarstein in the Museum’s Gift Shop, and get one of your favorite books written by him signed! Museum admission is not required to meet John in our Shop or to shop with us.

Quarstein is a renowned historian and author of 19 books and the winner of the 2012 Henry Adams Prize for excellence in historical literature. He has also produced, narrated and written several PBS documentaries, including the film series “Civil War in Hampton Roads,” a Silver Telly Award Winner.

Book promo:
Order signed copies of John Quarstein’s books online at our Museum Gift Shop. Members receive 10% OFF Gift Shop purchases with code.
Email [email protected] to get your Member discount code. Not a member? Become one today.