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The Monitor Boys. Officers on deck.
The Mariners’ Museum

After the ironclad’s showdown with CSS Virginia on March 9, 1862, USS Monitor was considered the ‘little ship that saved the nation.’ The Monitor continued to serve in Virginia waters until September 30 when the ironclad was sent to Washington Navy Yard for much needed repairs. The ship’s complement changed due to desertion and re-assignment; nevertheless, it left the yard on November 8 to return to Hampton Roads. Having received a variety of improvements, Monitor  was positioned off of Newport News Point, guarding against any excursion by the Confederate ironclad CSS Richmond.  


IMLS & The Battle of Hampton Roads

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Hello readers,

It has been a busy summer and one that has been especially interesting for Library staff. We are all deeply involved in a project that has been funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to catalog archival resources from our collections that involve the Battle of Hampton Roads (BOHR). So what does this project mean for the Library staff and our dedicated volunteers and interns? It has become an opportunity to spend much more time researching and describing singular items in BOHR collections. Given this opportunity, I thought I’d share something that I found interesting in a four page letter from the collection of Jacob Nicklis’ papers. On December 28, 1862, Jacob Nicklis wrote to his father from the USS Monitor. In the letter, he informs him that they are anchored near Fortress Monroe awaiting the Montauk and the Connecticut, so he is taking the time to write about where he has been since the last letter, and to say where he will be going in the coming days. Jacob then shifts gears to provide his father with a detailed description of his Christmas while on board the Monitor. This all seems like an average letter that you would send home to loved ones, right? Well, towards the end of his letter on pages three to four, Jacob tells his father not to write back until he hears from him again. Jacob then ends the letter with what I considered a very chilling comment: “They say we will have a pretty rough time a going around Hatteras but I hope it will not be the case.”

As many of you know, the Monitor sank off the coast of Cape Hatteras, December 31, 1862, and Jacob Nicklis perished with 15 of his crew members.   Read more

A Visit to Jacob Nicklis’ Memorial

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Recently I had the opportunity to visit the memorial of one of the brave sailors who was lost when the Monitor sank in a storm off Cape Hatteras on December 31st, 1862.  Jacob Nicklis, son of William Nicklis, a prominent tailor in Buffalo, New York had re-enlisted as an ordinary seaman in the US Navy on October 13, 1862 and  joined the Monitor’s crew shortly thereafter.  He is commemorated on the Nicklis-Leonard family obelisk at Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo.

During archaeolgical excavation of the Monitor’s turret, a spoon was found engraved with the initials ‘JN’ which was identified as having belonged to Mr. Nicklis.  The spoon has been conserved and is now on display at The USS Montitor Center.     Read more