Iron Wills, Iron Ships

Although a draw, the fight between the Monitor and Virginia decisively ushered in the modern era

What the USS Monitor’s crewmen remembered most about the moments before the battle on the morning of March 9, 1862, was the silence. Read more »

The Monitor Makes Port

After a century and a half, the warship that changed the world is back

On March 9, 1862, a naval engagement near Chesapeake Bay in Virginia ended with no decisive victor and without claiming a single life. Yet no one has ever doubted that the bloodless fight changed naval warfare forever. Now, only a few miles from the broad channel where the battle took place, it is changing something else: the way present-day visitors experience Civil War history.Read more »

The Last Powder Monkey

A TALE OF PERIL, COURAGE, and gross ingratitude on the old China station

 

In the age of sail every fighting ship had its complement of powder monkeys, boys in their early teens or even younger whose duty was to carry bags of gunpowder from the ship’s magazines to her cannon in time of battle. The Navy used powder monkeys for decades, but they disappeared long before the war with Spain, displaced by advances in ordnance and humanitarian objections to exposing children to combat. Read more »

Flamborough Head

Eighth in a series of paintings for AMERICAN HERITAGE

On September 23, 1779, Captain John Paul Jones, wallowing along the English coast in the unwieldy Bonhomme Richard , met the British frigate Serapis . The battle that followed remains one of the most extraordinary single ship actions in history. The Richard had been a weary old French Indiaman, condemned for rot, when Jones took her over.Read more »

Exploit At Fayal

A lonely, gallant battle fought by the designer of our flag set the stage for Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans.

When Andrew Jackson and his triumphant army rode through the streets of New Orleans after crushing Sir Edward Pakenham’s veteran troops on January 8, 1815, neither Old Hickory nor his men realized how narrow their margin of victory had been.

Last Of The Rebel Raiders

Long after the Civil War was over, the Shenandoah’s die-hard skipper was still sinking Yankee ships

On the night of October 8, 1864, a little group f m of men hurried through log-shrouded streets in Liverpool, England, to board the steamer Laurel , which lay waiting in the harbor. They posed as passengers and pretended to be strangers to one another, but in tact they were officers and men of the Confederate Navy. Some of them had reached Europe oil the blockade-runners that slipped in and out of southern ports.

Victory At New Orleans

On August 24 and 25, 1814, British forces were in full possession of Washington; from August 29 to 31 other forces held Alexandria. From September 11 to 14 they were feeling out the defenses of Baltimore. Then the greater part of them vanished out of sight; once the British ships were over the horizon there was almost no means of knowing where they were and far smaller means of knowing what they intended, for by this time the blockade of the Atlantic Coast was highly effective, and there were few ships to bring in news even of the outside world, certainly not of the movements of the British lleet. No one could even be sure that any further offensive movement was meditated, but it was the duty of the American government to act on the hypothesis that the enemy would attempt to do all the harm possible —and that implied that British movements must be foreseen and guarded against.

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