Transforming Naval Warfare
On March 8, 1862, the power of a new form of naval warfare made its appearance at Hampton Roads Bay, Virginia. The CSS Virginia (formerly the sunken USS Merrimack) appeared beside the Union fleet, showing her aggressive naval power with a never-seen-before "iron coating." With a front mounted cannon and an iron body, she destroyed two Union wooden ships, lowering Union morale. On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor, commissioned in February 1862, arrived in Hampton Roads showing her superior fighting abilities. The Monitor brought to the battle the first adjustable turret at sea, allowing the Union sailors to have hopes of victory for the Union once more.
The USS Monitor was also a ship of iron, making the battle between the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor known as "The Battle of the Ironclads." The battle between the two ironclads lasted two hours, but soon had to come to a halt because both the Union and Confederate crews had suffered unsustainable loses and injuries. Even though the CSS Virginia had more fire power than the USS Monitor, the battle ended in a draw. As for the "ironclads" themselves, they received very little damage. Both "ironclads" lived through the battle, inaugurating a new era of naval warfare.