Battle of Wassaw Sound and CSS Atlanta

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Sketch of CSS Atlanta. Robert G. Skerrett, artist.
Date unknown. The Mariners’ Museum # PNc0001.

The CSS Atlanta was an ironclad transformation effort which used the iron-hull and Scottish-built engines of SS Fingal to fashion one of the Confederacy’s most powerful warships. The ironclad; however, had a deep draft which limited its operational area below Savannah. This coupled with a very rash and impetuous captain, Commander William Webb, resulted in Atlanta’s capture in a brief engagement with the monitors USS Weehawken and USS Nahant. The ironclad soon became the USS Atlanta and served until 1865 in the James River. It was later sold to Haiti and floundered en route without a trace.

SS Fingal

The Atlanta had its genesis from the merchant ship SS Fingal. This merchant ship was constructed at the J & G Thomson’s Clyde Bank Iron Shipyard at Govan in Glasgow, Scotland. The Fingal’s dimensions were:   Read more

December 31, 1862

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On this day in 1862, the U.S.S. Monitor slipped beneath the waves off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina during a storm. Sixteen of the sixty two crewmembers were lost that night. The men rescued by the U.S.S. Rhode Island would face the New Year with their thoughts on those swept off the deck by the ferocious waves and the men trapped inside the ironclad as she sank.

Staff here at the museum will have the Monitor’s crew in their thoughts today. Emails and conversations between friends and colleagues will inevitably mention them. So will some newspapers, Facebook pages and twitter posts. Many of us will stop by the Conservation Lab’s observation deck and look down at the large artifacts undergoing treatment in their water filled tanks. The engine, condenser, cannons, cannon carriages and the turret where the skeletons of two men were found. While still unidentified, these men now rest at Arlington National Cemetery and forensic reconstructions of their skulls are sitting not far from the pieces of their beloved ship. All mute reminders that accidents at sea have claimed,  and still continue to claim lives.   Read more

Way Back Wednesdays

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Sept 1974, Soviet scientists being shown the Crabtree models by August F. Crabtree

Our first image this month shows a group of Russian Scientists getting a tour of the museum in September of 1974.  The man second to the left is August Crabtree, who made a number of beautiful models that are currently on display in our galleries, and is showing one of them to the group in the picture.  We also have an online exhibition for those who cannot make it to the museum.

Here we have the museum’s six millionth visitor receiving a present from Director William Wilkinson on September 11, 1972.  In the background is a painting of Hornet (CV-8), a United States Aircraft Carrier.  The painting was done by Thomas C. Skinner, museum artist, ca 1942-1958.   Read more

Monitor Madness

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1888 Ironclad Paint advertisement (2013.09.01)
1888 Ironclad Paint advertisement (2013.09.01)

A recent acquisition offers a look at one way the USS Monitor entered into popular culture after the historic Battle at Hampton Roads in March 1862. Following the Civil War, images of the Monitor and variations on the name and style of ship were used for a variety of businesses and products, including telegraph equipment, windmills, cast iron stoves, patent medicines, silver mines, playing cards and produce, just to name a few.

The ironclad ships represented strength and innovation, two qualities many companies wished to highlight about their products.   Read more