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Did you know that the first battle between two ironclad ships happened in 1862 during the American Civil War? An ‘ironclad’ is a steam-propelled warship from the 1850’s that has iron or steel armor plates that protect the wooden hull and structure of the ship. The two ironclads in the first battle were the USS Monitor from the Union Navy, and the CSS Virginia from the Confederate Navy. The CSS Virginia had defeated a few wooden warships, but neither ironclad could seriously damage or destroy the other. This marked an end to the age of wooden warships.

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Bonus Facts:
The name of the battle was the Battle of Hampton Roads.

The USS Monitor was designed by Theodore Trimby and John Ericsson.

The USS Monitor sank on route to North Carolina, during a storm near Cape Hatteras.

The wreck of the USS Monitor was discovered in 1973 and is on display at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

The CSS Virginia was built from the steam frigate the USS Merrimack. The USS Merrimack was stationed at Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. When Virginia seceded from the Union, orders were given to destroy the base. The US Navy tried to sink the Merrimack, but it was salvaged and reconstructed.

On May 11, 1962, the CSS Virginia was destroyed to prevent its capture by the Union Navy. Remnants from the wreck have been recovered and are on display in the Chicago History Museum.

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