NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Historic milestones are on the horizon this year at The Mariners’ Museum and Park, and the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Hampton Roads marks a monumental one. The Mariners’ will commemorate the famous Civil War battle on Saturday, March 12, 2022, with engaging activities, immersive lectures, and encounters with the Museum’s Conservation and Education teams in the USS Monitor Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern time.
In addition to the battle’s commemoration, this year marks 20 years since the recovery of Monitor’s turret from the Atlantic Ocean and the 50th anniversary of the creation of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) first national marine sanctuary, the MONITOR National Marine Sanctuary.
“The Mariners’ Museum is in a unique position to share all of the complexity of this historic event,” President and CEO Howard Hoege III said. “The Monitor story is about technology and innovation that you continue to see today in the work that our Conservation team does to save elements of the ship for generations to come. More importantly, the story of the ‘Little Ship that Saved the Nation’ is a powerful human drama of people from all walks who bond together as a crew, united by the common purpose of saving our country. The Monitor story is a powerful example for us today.”
The stage for an iron-on-iron fight was set on March 8, 1862, when USS Monitor steamed into Hampton Roads to provide support to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and its flagship USS Minnesota which had run aground. Earlier that day, Minnesota had fought alongside USS Cumberland and USS Congress with both Union frigates now destroyed by the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. In the early hours of March 9, Monitor and Virginia squared off in an epic showdown battling relentlessly for hours. While each side declared victory, the clash between the ironclads changed the course of naval warfare forever.
A battle as old as time written in the history books or illustrated in paintings, the power of Monitor resonates 160 years later. In addition to being an engineering marvel of its era, Monitor conveys a collection of human stories that includes those who built the ironclad in less than 100 days, at least eight African Americans, like Siah Carter, who served aboard the ship, and the 16 crew members who perished with Monitor off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on December 31, 1862.
“These upcoming commemorations are a reminder of the enduring legacy of USS Monitor to bring people together,” Will Hoffman, director of conservation and chief conservator, said. “This vessel’s artifacts create connections to the stories of the people that used them. As stewards of Monitor, we (The Mariners’ Museum) are honored to share the incredible stories of its continuing impact on the world.”
John V. Quarstein, renowned author, historian, and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center, will kick off the commemoration Wednesday, March 9 at 12 p.m. (ET). In partnership with NOAA and the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology, Quarstein will give a virtual presentation, “Who Won the Battle of Hampton Roads?” The lecture is free, and part of the Submerged NC Webinar Series. Advance registration is required.
On Saturday, March 12, there will be fun activities and exciting presentations at the Museum to entertain and captivate Mariners of all ages. The Museum’s Education team is hosting a hands-on, STEM activity where kids can roll up their sleeves and learn about gun boring excavation. Guests will have the opportunity to meet the Conservation team in the USS Monitor Center and Batten Conservation Complex, and ask questions about Monitor artifacts on display.
The commemoration on Saturday will also feature two presentations with Quarstein giving a lecture about the first meeting of the two ironclads 160 years ago at 11 a.m., and Hoffman sharing details about the discovery, recovery, and conservation of USS Monitor at 1 p.m. There will also be book signings by Quarstein at 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday’s event is free with $1 admission, and free for Mariners’ Museum Members.
Today, the remains of Monitor rest on the ocean floor off North Carolina’s Outer Banks where the ironclad sank in a storm in December 1862. Discovered in 1973, Monitor’s wreck site was designated the MONITOR National Marine Sanctuary to preserve the historic record of the iconic Civil War ironclad. In 1987, The Mariners’ Museum was named the official repository for the Monitor Collection by NOAA. The Collection consists of more than 200 tons of priceless artifacts recovered from the wreck site with many on display within the award-winning Ironclad Revolution exhibition of the USS Monitor Center.
For more information about the Battle of Hampton Roads Commemoration, visit MarinersMuseum.org/BOHR.
160 Years Later: The Battle of Hampton Roads at The Mariners’ Museum
Times listed are Eastern.
Wednesday, March 9, 2022 (Virtual)
Civil War Lecture
12 p.m. • And the Winner is … Who Won the Battle of Hampton Roads?
Free. Advance registration is required. Register through NOAA at: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/4153055948697654543?utm_medium=email&utm_source=GovDelivery
A Submerged NC Webinar, come join historian John V. Quarstein as he weighs in on who won the Battle of Hampton Roads 160 years ago. This lecture is presented by The Mariners’ Museum and Park, NOAA’s MONITOR National Marine Sanctuary and the NC Office of State Archaeology.
Saturday, March 12, 2022 (In Person)
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Free with $1 admission. Free for Mariners’ Museum Members.
- “What’s in My Cannon?” - a STEM-based gun boring activity for Mariners of all ages
- A fun, engaging scavenger hunt in the USS Monitor Center
- “Ask a Conservator or Educator,” Museum team members will be stationed throughout the USS Monitor Center and the Batten Conservation Complex to share exciting stories about the Monitor
11 a.m. - First Clash between Ironclads: Monitor vs. Virginia
Presenter: John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center
1 p.m. - Two Decades Conserving an Ironclad: An Overview of the Conservation of USS Monitor
Presenter: Will Hoffman, director of Conservation and chief conservator
12 p.m. and 3 p.m. - Book signing with John V. Quarstein
The Mariners' Museum and Park connects people to the world's waters because through the water – through our shared maritime heritage— we are connected to one another. The organization is an educational, non-profit institution accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and preserves and interprets maritime history through an international collection of ship models, figureheads, paintings, and other maritime artifacts. The Mariners’ Museum is home to the USS Monitor Center and is surrounded by the 550-acre Mariners’ Park, the largest privately maintained park open to the public in North America. The Mariners’ Museum Library is the largest maritime library in the Western hemisphere. Because of the Museum’s world-class Collections and its reputation for high-level exhibits and programs, in 1999, the U.S. Congress designated The Mariners’ Museum as one of only two maritime museums that comprise America’s National Maritime Museum. The Museum galleries are now open to the general public with $1 admission; the Museum team will continue to offer FREE virtual programs for those who prefer to engage online or through social media platforms and blog posts. The Mariners’ Park and Noland Trail remain open for daily use. For additional information, visit MarinersMuseum.org, call (757) 596-2222, or write to The Mariners' Museum, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.
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