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The Monitor and the Virginia The USS Monitor and the C S S Virginia were the first ironclads to grace the waters of the American Civil War Their battle in 1862 at Newport News Point is still considered one of the best and most exciting naval engagements of all times The reason people think of it as the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack is because the Merrimack had been the Virginias name when she was still a union ship Since the Union won the war they wrote the history with their name for her When rebel forces were about to invade the port at Norfolk the USS Merrimack along with every other ship in the yard was set afire so not to be captured by the enemy But only her deck was destroyed Her lower hull was left intact The Confederates took her and fitted her with an iron deck Each side carried 5 guns and one on the bow and on the stern She was also fitted with an iron ram submerged at the bow for ramming wooden union ships Now named the Virginia she ran amuk in Chesapeake Bay disposing of Union warships Her iron hull was almost impervious to cannon balls and her ram made short work of the giant wooden targets The Union knew they had to build an ironclad of their own if they wanted to win the war and so the Monitor was born The Monitor rode almost completely submerged with the bare minimum of wood required but with absolutly none of it showing Unlike the Virginia the Monitors hull was only a foot or
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