Sub-Stanchion-al !!!!!!


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In preparation for their removal from the turret, photographic documentation was undertaken to record the location and orientation of remaining roof stanchions (in situ in their mounting brackets), which once supported a canvas canopy above the turret.  In the photograph below taken in July of 1862, you can see the starboard side of the turret in the background with the roof stanchions and canopy clearly visible. (notice the dents near the gun port!!)

The image below is a print of Monitor‘s turret in a transverse cutaway view of the starboard side, which shows a portion of the stanchion brackets along the top of the turret above the roof.


During the sinking  in December of 1862, the ship rolled over and the iconic gun turret became separated from the hull and settled on the seafloor in an inverted position with the rest of the ship then landing onto of it.  As one can imagine, the nature of the sinking led to the bending, distorting, and breaking of the roof stanchions that remained in place when the turret hit the ocean bottom. In the NOAA image below one can see the turret pined under the hull of the ship.


The following image taken last week shows the port-aft section of the turret in its tank within the Batten Conservation Complex (remember it’s still in an inverted position!!). You can clearly see the degree of deformation which occurred to the stanchions from the sinking as well as some material loss from more then 140 years spent on the seafloor.

So, at this point you may be asking yourself, “Will, why is it important that you document all the remaining stanchions in position on the turret?” Well, I’m glad you asked that question. The reason it’s important is because identifying the way the stanchions are bent will aid in creating a more complete understanding of how exactly the turret landed on the ocean floor. This information could provide valuable clues which could add to the greater archaeological picture of Monitor’s final hour. The following images are some detail shots of the port side of the turret with various views. Enjoy!!!!!

The above image shows the same port-aft side of the turret as previously seen but  now from an exterior view while the image below provides a composite view from the top of the turret of the same section.

The next image is a detail shot from an interior view of the stanchion and bracket to the right in the above photo mosaic.


This last image is of the starboard-aft side of the turret and I’ve flipped the image over so you are now viewing the “revolving marvel” right side up!

There have been some questions asked about the roof of the turret since posting, so I’ve added the image below, which is an interior view of the turret created by NOAA archaeologists showing main structural beams, railroad rails, and roof plates. Note: the drawing was created during the excavation of the turret and only a portion of the objects recovered are present in this representation.

In response to some recent questions about the turret roof and stanchions I’ve added a little more detail below:

To help protect Monitor’s crew from the elements, its gun turret was crowned with a large cone-shaped canopy. The center of the canopy was supported by a mast while curved wrought iron stanchions were used to hold up the outer edge. The mast was attached to the turret’s roof by a large copper alloy socket whereas the stanchions were held by 24 brackets bolted around the inside of the armor wall above the roof as seen below and in the previous images above.

canopyNote that although the turret could hold up to 24 stanchions, often in photographs taken of the ship no more that 12 are visible at one time appearing to be set in every other bracket.

The next image shows a bird’s eye view of the turret with the approximate positions of stanchion brackets (subsequently numbered by The Mariners’ Museum) as well as other features that compose the roof, including fourteen ½-inch thick wrought iron plates. The central six plates are each perforated with ten parallel rows of nineteen holes. Also visible in the graphic are the port and starboard hatch cover rails, which extend along each side of the hatches toward the aft of the turret. The two rectangular shapes visible at the forward part of the turret are the top surfaces of the gun port shutters. The hollow circle in the center of the turret represents the mast socket. The two black holes aft of the mast socket represent openings through the roof, which may have been intended to be part of an exhaust system for Monitor’s guns as mentioned in a period document titled, “Monitor” Oct. 1861: Specification of an Impregnable Floating Battery, composed of iron and wood, complete ready for service expecting guns, ammunition, and stores.


During recovery and excavation of the turret beginning in 2002, a total of 14 stanchions (both complete and fragmented) were found in place on the the turret’s roof. This represents two more stanchions than seen in photographs taking of the ship during its time of active service. Furthmore, the positions of the stanchions are not alternatley spaced around the turret as seen in the Gibson photographs, but rather in groups with the largest grouping near the starborad – aft section in which five consecutively placed stanchions are visible (see figures 4 and 9). Interestingly, the intact stanchions are all dramatically bent in the direction of the port side, which adds to the belief that the turret landed on ocean floor with is starboard edge strking the seabed first, and then fell to port.

9 thoughts on “Sub-Stanchion-al !!!!!!”

  1. It had been my understanding that the spaces between the iron bars which made up the roof of the turret had been left open to allow lighting and ventilation, but the photos appear to show the roof fully covered by plate. Could you please clarify this for me?

    1. Hi Stephen,

      In response to your question, yes the turret is covered with approximately half inch wrought iron plate above the ceiling rails. As we can determine at this stage of the deconcretion/excavation, there are approximately 10 plates in total and they are attached to the ceiling rails by screws. For ventilation in the turret, the plates located directly above the guns are perforated. The treatment of the turret is ongoing, so as the project progress, we’ll have more information ot share on exactly how the turret is constructed.

      Thanks for checking out the blog, and come back soon

  2. Thank you, Will, for the clarification and the image. It’s fascinating to watch as these bits of information come to light. My thanks and encouragement to everyone working to preserve this national treasure.

  3. Will. Nice job with the blog post, it is very informative. The last photo, the inverted one, is just awesome. How did you get so much light underneath there? Do you think that there will be enough information to model these stanchions in there in situ orientation someday? That would be aewsome.
    Hope you are having hot, dirty, sweaty fun!

  4. Hi Fran,

    The inverted image of the turret was taken using a 10mm-22mm lens at ƒ4 and a shutter speed somewhere in the range of 30 seconds to a minute. In response to the modeling question, as we continue to remove concretion on the turret our understanding of exactly how it’s assembled also grows, so at some point we hope to compile more accurate drawings.

  5. Hi Will, Thanks for the infomation. I think that there was a total of 24 stanchion sockets, how many stanchions were recovered? If some are missing, are the missing ones random or in a particular pattern?

  6. Good question, Fran. I, too, am interested in knowing how many stanchions there were. The cooking-on-deck photo shows 12, but the cross-sectional drawing posted above shows about that number just on one side, and in the actual photos of the recovered turret, they look much too close together to be only 12.
    [I want to build an accurate 1/32 scale model of the turret, so I hope these blogs are still active for questions.]

    1. It is unclear why we see more than 12 stanchions on the turret after recovery. One thought was that you needed more stanchions to support the “rifle shield”; however, it was not found during the excavation. Please see the added images above

  7. Just looking at the picture of the turret roof and it’s stanchions and brackkets for them. Can you tell me what size the nuts are that are on the inside of the turret edge and what the the demensions of the stanchion brackkets