An account of ongoing efforts to recover the nineteenth-century wreck of the USS Monitor features more than one hundred photographs, paintings, and technical plans, as well as never before published letters from a common Civil War sailor who served aboard the famous battleship.
Marking the ongoing efforts to recover the 136-year-old wreck of the USS Monitor, The Mariners' Museum presents a lavishly illustrated commemorative volume of the renowned Civil War ironclad's past and present. The short, fabled life of the USS Monitor began on January 30, 1862, at Green Point, Brooklyn, New York, and ended on December 31 of that same year, when the legendary Civil War ironclad sank in 230 feet of water off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Serving on the Monitor -- where engines and living space lay completely below the waterline and the iron deck rose a scant eighteen inches above it -- was like no other duty in the U.S. Navy. The Monitor Chronicles brings shipboard experience to life through the words of Civil War sailor George S. Geer, whose never-before-published letters home to his beloved wife, Martha, faithfully chronicle the events of that dramatic year. Like many men of his station, George Geer had joined Abraham Lincoln's navy less to help save the Union than to earn money and learn a reliable trade, so his accounts are unflinchingly honest -- at times colored by the bravado of a man at war, at others tinged with the pathos of a man in danger and far from home. When, on the morning of March 9, 1862, the Monitor and the CSS Virginia fought the first battle between ironclad warships, Geer recalled,"I often thought of you and the little darlings when the fight was going on and what should become of you should I be killed....But I should have no more such fears as our ship resisted everything they could fire at her as though they were spit balls." Whether he sweated in the searing heat or simply waited while the Monitor danced a strategic minuet with the enemy, his words confirm and amplify the proud legacy of the vessel whose very existence brought an end to the era of wooden warships. On January 2, 1863, Geer reported, "I am sorry to have to write you that we have lost the Monitor." He survived, but sixteen men were lost in a raging sea that seemed to have claimed the ship for eternity. But the story told in The Monitor Chronicles doesn't end there. The book captures a piece of living history, as men and machines attempt to recover the wreck even as it begins to succumb to the elements after 136 years on the ocean floor. Because The Mariners' Museum serves as the official repository of the USS Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, readers will be treated to spectacular underwater views of the Monitor, as well as to an unprecedented look at the salvage efforts. Although more than a century has passed since the ship itself sailed into history, The Monitor Chronicles provides not only a fresh, uniquely intimate view of the Monitor's fateful year as the world's first iron warship but also a provocative glimpse of