Friday, March 9, 2012

Learn Our History Today: March 9

Learn Our History Today: On March 9, 1862, the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia engaged in one of the most famous naval battles in the Civil War and possibly all of American history.  All morning long, the two ironclads exchanged cannon fire off Hampton Roads, VA, south of the Chesapeake Bay.  Despite the consistent pounding, each ship easily resisted the cannon shots thanks to the use of armor plates which signaled a new era of steam-powered iron ships.

Originally known as the U.S.S. Merrimak, the C.S.S. Virgninia was captured by the Confederates who then covered the ship in heavy armor plating and outfitted it with powerful guns.  The Confederates launched the ship for their new ship first time in February of 1862, and on March 8th (yesterday in history!) the ship sunk two Union ships. 

The U.S.S. Monitor, which was designed with an unusually low 18” profile for operation in the shallow harbors of the south, featured a flat iron deck and a 20-foot cylindrical turret.  As it snaked through the Chesapeake Bay on the morning of March 9, it engaged the Virginia and fought for four hours.  As the ships circled one another, cannon balls flew threw the air and simply bounced off of the iron ships.  Early in the afternoon, the Virginia retreated to Norfolk and neither ship suffered any serious damage.

Also on this day in history, Republican senators took action to limit fellow Republican Joseph McCarthy’s power.  McCarthy is best known for his accusations of communists operating in the U.S. Department of State, yet he was unsuccessful in producing any evidence to substantiate his claims.  His peers accused him of being a one-man party and “doing his best to shatter that party whose label he wears.”

Also, in pop-culture history, the infamous Barbie doll makes her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York City.

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