March 9, 1862: Monitor v. Merrimack

One hundred and fifty-nine years ago all wooden fleets around the globe became obsolete in one day.  Change in human affairs is often gradual and imperceptible, but sometimes it is as sudden and as quick as a bolt of lighting.  The development of armored, self-powered ships was gradual, but after March 9, 1862 it was obvious to even the most hide bound naval officer that the future had suddenly arrived.






John Ericsson, designer of the Monitor, was an unusually productive inventor even by Nineteenth Century standards, the age of invention.  In addition to the Monitor, which went from paper plans to launch in an astounding 100 days, he invented the surface condenser, the hot air engine and a solar machine which used solar energy to run an engine.  He did some of the first work on torpedos and advanced hoop gun construction techniques.  He designed the Princeton in 1843, the first two screw propellor ship in the US Navy and probably the most advanced warship of its day.  Ericsson lived from July 31, 1803-March 8, 1889, a long life but seemingly too brief for the amount of work he packed into it.


Published in: on March 9, 2021 at 11:30 pm  Comments Off on March 9, 1862: Monitor v. Merrimack  
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