As I type, the end of another year is just a few hours away. I’ve managed to do a small piece each December 31st, so it only seems appropriate to continue the tradition. And since the previous two “year-enders” had to do with endings (the breakup of AT & T and Thomas Jefferson’s resignation as our country’s first Secretary of State), I should write something involving some sort of beginning.
Who am I kidding? Let’s talk about the USS Monitor…but only for a minute.
Many of you are already familiar with the battle fought between the Monitor and the CSS Virginia (which was actually the USS Merrimack in Confederate garb) in March of 1862. As the first battle fought between ironclads, it pretty much ended in a draw, which shouldn’t be that big of a surprise since both had cannon capable blowing holes in wooden ships, but not in each other.
Anyways, two months after their engagement (the Battle of Hampton Roads), the Virginia was scuttled by Confederate forces to keep it from falling back into the hands of the Union.
And as 1862 came to a close, the life of the Monitor ended as well. On December 31, 1862, she was being towed in the Atlantic Ocean just off Cape Hatteras. The seas were rough that evening and the Monitor, designed for river travel, couldn’t handle the conditions. She foundered and sank about 16 miles from shore. It’s a bit ironic that the first two ironclads, built to dominate in war, both met their demise in circumstances that had pretty much nothing to do with the Civil War in which they fought.
So that’s it…pretty simple this evening. 2010 is nearly over. I hope it’s been a great year for you, and I wish you a wonderful…and very safe…New Year.