Hot Times on Monitor: One Steaming Summer On The James

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Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, line engraving. Harper’s Weekly, 1862. New York Public Library Digital Collections

The Union flotilla steamed downriver after its repulse at Drewry’s Bluff to City Point, Virginia. Commander John Rodgers, the flotilla’s leader, recognized that his ships, USS Monitor, USS Galena, USS Naugatuck, USS Port Royal, and USS Aroostook, were needed to support Major General George B. McClellan’s operations against Richmond. North Atlantic Blockading Squadron commander Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough sent supplies and additional gunboats, including USS Maratanza, Wachusetts, Island Belle, Stepping Stones, and Coeur De Lion, to City Point. This force was to protect the left flank of McClellan’s army. 

ENTER SIAH HULETT CARTER

William Keeler called Monitor’s new anchorage at City Point “out of humanity’s reach,” and it was there that he would soon witness new facets of war. The Union ships were operating in “enemy’s country” and consequently, armed guards were posted every evening in expectation of sharpshooters or a raiding party. During the night of May 18, 1862, an alert was called: “Boat ahoy!” And a shot was fired on an approaching boat. Captain Jeffers exclaimed, “Boarders!” All available crewmen rushed onto the deck. Once on deck, Keeler “found the vast array of ‘Monitors’ armed to the teeth drawn up confronting the enemy – a poor trembling contraband – begging not to be shot.”    Read more

“In the Land of Submarines”: Moving Nishimura 3746

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The sub has been in outdoor storage for several decades. Mariners’ Museum # 1946.0002.000001. Courtesy of: Amanda Shields/The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

We can handle a lot of heavy lifting with our staff, but sometimes we need to call on outside experts for help. Such was the case with No. 3746, a Japanese mini-submarine designed by Nishimura Ishimatsu. We needed to lift the sub onto a custom cradle and relocate it. Often this is a simple task with objects in the Museum’s Collection; however, due to the sub’s size (35 feet long and 20 tons), there was no way we could do this in-house.

This “simple” task was actually the culmination of several years’ worth of planning and only possible due to many people’s support.  The Museum’s Bronze Door Society approved the funding of a custom cradle for the submarine during their 2019 annual dinner.  The cradle would fully support the hull and make it easier to move the sub. We could also conserve and display the submarine in its new support. Hannah, our archaeologist, shared with the Society why the sub is so special and the need for a new support. You can learn more about the history of the sub and the start of the project in our past “In the Land of Submarines” series posts; historyassessing; and documenting.   Read more