Monitor: The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History


Monitor is the fascinating saga of arguably the most famous ship in American history, of the events leading up to and following the battle, and of the people who made them happen. John Ericsson had had an idea for a mobile ironclad as far back as 1826, and refined it during the thirty-five years it took for someone to commission him. The English and the French, in turn, had declined his vision, and his clever mind had focused on other inventions that were more readily accepted. Nonetheless, his "subaquatic system of naval warfare" remained close to his heart, and finally, in the summer of 1861, it became a historical necessity. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles was desperate for an answer to the Merrimac, which everyone knew the Confederates were armoring, and turned to venture capitalist Cornelius Bushnell for advice. Bushnell was led to Ericsson, recognized his genius, and used all his persuasive powers to gain Ericsson, whom the navy mistrusted deeply, the chance to build his ship. Her assembly at breakneck speed was a miracle of engineering teamwork. Her timely arrival in Hampton Roads, stand-off with the Merrimac, and ultimate demise eight months later became the stuff of legend. Her impact was revolutionary: Filled with more than forty patentable inventions, the Monitor made every other navy on earth obsolete the moment she opened fire.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 1997


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