The Battle of the First Ironclads
The Virginia, or, more commonly, the Merrimack, was the Confederate ironclad built from the hull of the previously damaged Merrimack Confederate warship. The Confederates raised the former Merrimack and sheared off the masts. They then covered the deck with two layers of sheet iron. A huge ram was attached, and the Virginia was then armed with no less than fifteen cannon. Starting with no navy at all, the south had seized the initiative and forged the most powerful naval weapon in history.
Saturday March 8th was wash day for the U.S. Navy, and all ships were unprepared for the onslaught. The Merrimack slid into the harbor, and headed straight for the U.S.S. Cumberland. Although the Cumberland opened fire, the shots bounced harmlessly off. Soon after it sank in shallow water.
After the Cumberland, the U.S.S. Congress was set on fire, and the U.S.S. Minnesota was driven aground. After this the Virginia fell back for the night.
In response to the Merrimack, the controversial Monitor was given birth. The Union's Monitor was also sheathed in iron. It's decks barely cleared the water. A revolving gun turret was installed amidships. Over 48 patented inventions were forged on the Monitor, which quickly overshadowed the achievement of the Merrimack.
March 9th, the Merrimack returned, but the Union ironclad, the Monitor , was waiting. The two dueled for five hours until the Merrimack k ran aground and lost it's ram. The ships were so close, they collided 5 times in the fury. The Merrimack then fled, leaving the Monitor as victor.
That morning, the rest of the world's navy was obsolete.