NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – One hundred and fifty-two years ago, on March 8 and 9, 1862, the great naval conflict of The American Civil War raged in the body of water known as Hampton Roads.
On March 8, the CSS Virginia laid waste to the wooden-hulled Union Navy. On March 9, the USS Monitor arrived in Hampton Roads, and the first meeting of ironclad ships in battle commenced. Four and a half hours later, the battle ended in a draw. But there was a clear winner in iron vs. wood, and warship designs changed forever with the Monitor’s gun turret.
The Mariners’ Museum will commemorate the 152nd anniversary of the ironclads’ first meeting with Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend on March 7-9. The weekend includes lectures by noted Civil War historians, family programs, Civil War-era interpreters and two ticketed events. It also serves as an introduction to the photography exhibition Between the States: Photographs of the American Civil War from the George Eastman House.
The weekend includes several lectures. Saturday, March 8, Garry Adelman, the director of History and Education for the Civil War Trust, will present a photographic tour of the Civil War’s eastern theater, with an emphasis on the Virginia Peninsula. Later Saturday will be “A Conversation with Mr. Lincoln,” featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Harold Holzer and George Buss, a leading Lincoln interpreter who has appeared at the White House.
The event also features two ticketed events. A Friday, March 7 Civil War motor coach tour will examine historic sites in Virginia’s Tidewater region that were documented by the artists and photographers in the area in the 1860s. The second ticketed event is History Bites on March 8, a food tasting of Civil War-era dishes. Food will be prepared by 10 of Hampton Roads top restaurants, with judging in several categories by celebrity panelists.
The Mariners’ Museum’s Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend isn’t just for Civil War aficionados. Programming included with regular Museum admission, and free for Museum members, is designed for families.
Ironclad BattleQuest is an interactive family adventure encouraging visitors to conduct a scavenger hunt in the Museum. This year, families are encouraged to bring cameras or smartphones, taking pictures based on the photographs included in the new exhibition Between the States.
There will be family crafts, such as making USS Monitor models, and programs, including “A Slave’s Perspective on the War” and a Sunday presentation on artifact conservation by USS Monitor Center staff. The weekend also includes costumed interpreters and a living history encampment.
The traveling exhibition Between the States: Photographs of the American Civil War from the George Eastman House, which opens March 1, looks at Civil War sites from the viewpoint of photographers including George Barnard, Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner.
For the full slate of Battle of Hampton Roads Weekend activities, visit BattleofHamptonRoads.com or call (757) 596-2222 or (800) 581-7245.
The Mariners’ Museum is located at 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606. The Mariners’ Museum is off I-64 Exit 258A. For hours and other information, visit MarinersMuseum.org.