View single post by cklarson
 Posted: Fri Aug 21st, 2009 05:56 am
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cklarson
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Folks,

Being related to RADM Worden, I have done some study of Monitor and Merrimac and Worden's history.

One of my favorite stories is about the possibility of Merrimac steaming up the Potomac and attacking Washington. Apparently according to Welles's diary (and my memory), during an emergency meeting of the Cabinet, Stanton was hysterical and kept leaping out of his chair to look out the window for the expected Merrimac on 3/8 or 9. Shortly he ordered concrete vessels sunk to prevent ingress up the Potomac by Merrimac. Later Lincoln was on a carriage ride with someone who asked what the concrete vessels were and AL replied: "Oh, that's Stanton's navy." Cracks me up.

Beyond bombarding Washington, the real fear was that Merrimac would take on the other wooden warships of the blockading fleet, I think mainly stationed off the Roads. Harper's Weekly headline on 3/10 was that Worden had saved the US Navy. Ericcson's genius was that when the first exploding naval shell was used in the mid-1840s (date?), he understood clearly that that marked the end of wooden sailing warships. Previously naval tactics had not been to sink a ship but to take her, as prize money was involved. Hence captains concentrated on sharpshooting the captains and officers (the purpose of Marines), firing the sails, and creating an ocean pile-up by "crossing the T". But exploding shell changed all that. The day after the battle at Hampton Roads, the British govt. canceled all contracts for wooden war ships.


Cheers!
CKL

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