The famous Battle of Hampton Roads that pitted USS Monitor against CSS Virginia on March 9, 1862, certainly changed the face of naval warfare. The ironclads blasted each other, and while they managed to damage each other’s armor, note the dents in this post-battle photograph of Monitor, the fight was a tactical draw. Monitor had, however, achieved strategic success by protecting the Union fleet in Hampton Roads.
The Monitor and its revolving turret became a celebrity, and spawned a whole new series of fighting ships equipped with such turrets. Nonetheless, some were less than impressed with the ironclad. On March 19, 1862, Officer Charles Haydon of the 2nd Michigan saw the warship and wrote: “The Monitor is here & a most ridiculous looking craft she is. She has a flat open deck perhaps 2 feet above water but over which the waves wash continually if there is any sea at all….Make a raft 120 ft. long & in abt the shape of a pumpkin seed & put a cheese box in the middle of it & you will have a good picture of this novel invention.”
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