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tv   The Civil War USS Monitors Wartime Service Sinking Recovery  CSPAN  November 26, 2019 8:00pm-8:49pm EST

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let me introduce our first guest. >> he is the director americas of the u.s. monitor center in newport news, and i'm sure many of you have been there, if you have not, you need to go, it's an amazing collection of material that they have there. he's the author of 17 books, to that would be interesting to
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all of you is the csis virginia, sink before surrender, and the monitor voice, the core of the union first--. he has received many awards, including the national trust for president award for historic preservation and many others. his top today is the ship that save the nation, please welcome mr. quarstein. >> thank you. on march 8, 1862, there was a terrible day for the union. it turned the tide in favor of the confederacy when the css virginia emerged from the elizabeth river and sunk two major union warships. the
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cumberland and the congress. the union navy was in disarray, people were in the white house looking out the curtains, down the potomac, fearing this super weapon, as they would call the merrimack, would be there soon and the war would end in a confederate victory. all was to change as if magic, because, that evening, a ship that was called like no other ship before, in fact, one person said a sailor's eyes have never looked upon such a vessel. that is the uss monitor. the monitor is a very unusual vessel. it is made in three parts, the terror at six parts. the torrent turret sits on an iron deck. in the iron deck sits on a hall hull. everything is below the
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waterline. one of my favorite stories is when the crew first gets on, two people desert immediately because it is so different. they have all of these new devices. john erickson, the inventor, will have over 100 taxable items, of which 33 are patented, and he gives those patents to the u.s. navy. one of the most unique patents happened to be a compression commode. you live under the water, there is no doubt. one of the members of the monitor's group, william keeler, will be laying in his bunk and there are deck lights
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that brings daylight into the cabin. he's reading, all of a sudden, it went dark and he saw fish over his light. so you can imagine this was the strangest ship ever seen. somehow, it left in new york on march the sixth, 1862, encountering two storms on its way south. it almost sank twice. somehow, she came into hampton roads just as the battle is concluding. she is a day late to do her duty. nevertheless, the commander, a scientific officer in the old navy, he basically, as he looks across the chesapeake bay towards hampton roads, he sees all of these ships rushing out. he sees flashes of cannon fire in the distance. he will merely say "they rushed out of hampton
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roads like a flock of chickens chased by a fox." it wasn't the monitor only went seven knots. samuel said he had no sleep for 24 hours, trying to keep the ship afloat. they will go into hampton roads, pull up next to the frigate, the roanoke, and marsden says that monster came out yesterday and the minnesota, in other steam screw frigate, 47 tons, sister ship of the original merrimack is run aground on the hampton barr and you need to position yourself
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next to it. here comes the monitor, 127 feet and bank in length. it's nine feet off of the waters edge what are's edge. he pull's next to the minnesota, 45 feet off of the water's edge. finally, it will explode. it is terrible for the union. the commander of the minnesota is a man who looks down and says, what are you? >> worden says on the monitor, here to protect you. >> he says, i don't know what you're going to do, but if that thing comes back, i will fight my ship and sink before surrender. he
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commonly said, i will protect you. i want to tell you about the monitor. we've got about three feet extra headroom in the sketch. everything was compressed within the monitor. the hall, one of the problems is there is an overhang over the whole the hull, one of the problems is there is an overhang over the hull. the virginia came out of here on march 8, had to come up like this, come here, rams and a sink the cumberland, sinks the congress, and the minnesota had cut the corner of what is known
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as hampton bar. she is sol so badly stuck aground. the virginia came back to a buoy at 6:30 in the morning. she is ready to go. they have breakfast, which was like the breakfast i had this morning with two boiled eggs and two tiggers of whiskey. the fog is there so she is delayed and starts to move like this. the monitor will all of a sudden appear. john taylor woods says no one has ever seen anything like that. the acting commander, roger jones, said it is the battery, look out for hot fight. basically, for the next batch that is the sinking of the cumberland, very dramatic. it's like a pick me against a giant. the virginias 262 feet virginia is 262 feet. the pilot house is out in front, and then
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there is the tourette turret. they have bad communications between the pilot house and turrentt turret. when the monitor sank, what are had gotten into the tube, so it didn't work. inside, there are white marks to tell you the captain's order. if you are in a spinning turret, do you know where that is? if you are using black powder, are the white marks covered up? and can you see out of the turret? we have to look over the top of the 11 inch guns and you see a dark object guns, and you see a dark
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objects, you fire. one of those would be the pilot house. it is called monitor roulette. out of 41 shots, they only hit the virginia 20 times. that tells you that there is bad fire control. virginia doesn't have the proper ammunition on board. one of the ship's inventors is john mercer brooke and brooke will have invented not only the virginia with its submerged ends, but also the finest rifle canyon of the civil war canon of the civil war. and he invented the brooke bolt which is an armor piercing shot. if you look at the torrent of the monitor turret of the monitor,
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you can see where the brooke bolt it the bolt hit the bolt hit the turret. there's another gun commander known as john randolph. p is just ending behind his gun every so often, snapping his finger that she is just standing behind the gun every so often, snapping his finger. he says why aren't you firing the gun? the man says i can do as much damage that the ship by snapping my fingers than firing my guns and powder is precious, sir. well, this battle will continue for four and a half hours. i'm not here
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to talk about the battle. i'm here to talk about that at the very end, these ships almost touch each other. the confederates cocked concocted plan that i have a bunch of volunteers, we will jump on the deck of the monitor, kickoff our coats, cover the pilot house, stuff them down the smokestacks, and we got a bunch of chloroform and we will throw it in the turret. they don't do that. because it is kind of a crazy plan. at the very and of the battle, the virginia is starting to rise, higher and higher, because of the use of coal and gunpowder. and worden decides he will run at the tail of the virginia because you can see the propeller turning churning. you build up speed, heads right to the tale, but then, there is a steering a
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function. the monitor veers off, and as a result, the virginia and a john taylor would will fire a seven inch shell that hits the pilot house, throws part of it off, and blinds worden. then, the battle is over. it is a drawn battle. the monitor had stopped to the virginia from destroying any more wooden ships. likewise, the virginia had been successful enough so that she blocked the james river during the beginning of the peninsula campaign, which will cause the flag officer lewis goldsborough to get a disease in 1862 known as ram fever, or merrimack on the brain. in other words, he closes the james river, refuses to run past yorktown, and mcclellan is forced to lay siege. well, not forced to lay siege, it's mcmillan mcclellan. after the battle, these
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officers of the monitor, these people are heroes. william keeler, who kind of looks like john lennon there, right? >> anyway, he will write that when you walk into an eating establishment at monroe, you didn't have to pay a thing. daniel toffee had to take a message to washington. daniel toffee was the captain's click.
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he went into the hotel and was defeated with the most lavish meal fed with the most lavish meal. these guys were on the little ships that saved the nation. that made them heroes. the big thing is that the monitor will serve during the peninsula campaign. the monitor was not a nice ship to serve on. number one, she is painted black until august, and light gray then. in july, she is painted black, in the james river where the temperature in the engine room is up over 130. in the galley, which is next to the boilers, it is 140 degrees. mosquitoes and flies have gotten into the area. one of them said the mosquitoes was as
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big as hummingbirds. the monitor, after serving in support of the peninsula campaign, will come down to hampton roads. she is then ordered up to the washington navy yard. during this time, she goes through a series of officers, including samuel dana green. for three one-day. for three days, it was thomas sofresh. thomas jeffers then takes command and he will be a hated commander. nothing has been happy on the monitor since you left, can you please come back? signed, the monitor boys. the big thing is, the monitor,
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you can see how they modified the pilot house. this was done by alvin steiner's so it had sloped armor. when she is in the washington navy yard, they put patches on her where sean had been hit. they have a larger telescoping smokestack. the problem with the monitor is she has to bring in air to peter engines and entire ship. to feed her engines and entire ship. she comes down, after being refitted at the washington navy yard, her new commander is john pine. pine bankhead. he was born in fort johnston south carolina. his father was a general. nevertheless, he replaces other captain another captain. that
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guy was a drunk. my favorite story about him was that they were supposed to move up the appomattox river. the union submarine, the alligator, then commanded by thomas selfresh junior. ever ship he is on that sinks has a c in it. bottom line, they were coming down the
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hampton roads and had this great christmas dinner, it is amazing. in fact, jacob nicholas will write his father, i am becoming a hogg. the food is so good. we had chicken stew, oysters, turkey, suite and irish potatoes. sweet and irish potatoes. to end it all, we had oranges, apples, and nuts, and the best fruitcake i've ever had. i've never had good fruitcake. the cook ruined the meal. it was not worth the dollar we paid. on that day, they gave orders to go where? down south. their supposed ahead towards beaufort, north carolina because the federal navy, at that time, was considering an operation against wilmington, north
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carolina. the monitor will be told south by this ship. this ship is the rhode island 236 feet in length iron hall hull. she is commanded ironman known as stephen decatur trenchard. trenchard is the most famous rescue at sea individual at the time. he rescued several crews. the most important was in 1856, when during a gale, he is in a coastal survey ship, the uss and nixon, uss nixon, and the ship ran a rocks 200 yards ashore. he saves every crewmember, and it is so
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impressive that queen victoria will give trenchard a gold presentation sword. but wait, trenchard can't have its because of the emoluments clause. the big thing is that he had to have a special act of congress to have him receive the sword. has the monitor as they toe down, they get hit by a terrible storm, 50 not wind, rain squalls, snow squalls, sleet squalls. finally, john bankhead john pine bankhead has to raise the red lantern up, and immediately, trenchard organized two ships to come over to the monitor and rescue the crew. the big problem is is that the rhode island cannot
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come alongside the monitor. the fear was a wave could pick it up and drop it on the monitor. or, the monitor could be thrown into the side of the rhode island. 63 men on board the monitor, this is a whole ring a harrowing night. the wind is screaming, and one crew member in the turret gets so upset with the screaming of the ship's cat that he grabs the cat, throws her in the barrel, and puts a tempe on afterwards. he could still hear the screaming of the cat. you can well imagine. they have this latter ladder, but the latter
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got washed away ladder got washed away, but they're coming on ropes. you get on the deck and you have to come across to jump into this longboat. you have to jump probably here to hear. here. there are several recorded that people that missed, daniel moore, it was said the last thing we heard of him was a gurgle. william keeter vascular william keeler is on the deck. he jumps toward the longboat, mrs. misses. however, someone grabs him and brings him into the boat. james fenwick will be washed off of the bowel when he is trying to get the hogs line and so will william wentz. napoleon stoddard will be able to cut the line so the monitor the action happening as the monitor
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is picked up and slapped back down is the monitor is picked up and slapped back down. many of the crew members thinks the ship will fall apart before she actually will think. anyway, they have two longboat's. they come over, pickup crew members, and william keeler said he arrived with not a stitch of clothes on. and freezing. you can imagine the conditions. dr. grenville weeks, and one boat that is cracked, gets next to the rhode island, bumps against it, he puts his arm out, dislocate his arm, crushes three fingers and someone says
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"oh my gosh, your arm is terrible." and he says, "my arm is worth a life." the last rowboat will try to come back onto the command of rodney bozeman brown. he's guided toward the red light, and all of a sudden, a swell brings him up. as he comes down, the light is gone and the monitor is no more. this is about 12:30. you have about 30 people on the rhode island saying it is 12:15, 12:30, 1:00. i tend to go with the ship's log of rhode island which says 12:30. the monitor is no more. 16 people were lost, 47 people were saved, and it shocks the nation to see that the monitor is no more. when the monitor sank, she sank by her whole hull. and she turns like that. the turret falls off because one of the troubles is
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that the turret sits in a brass ring. it is a spindle operated turret, and it is faulty. they jacked it up and put oakum under it to stop leaks. the turret falls off, comes down, hits the bottom, and turns over, upside down. then, the hull comes down and comes down as you can see, over part of the turret. that is how she is going to be discovered in 1974 by dr. newton. dr. newton is with the duke maritime research institute. they pick it up on sonar and they, then, will be
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able to put these composite pictures. once you find the monitor, that is fine and dandy. what are you going to do about it? well, basically, let's see, over 50 years later they start to make decisions to bring up objects. the first object is going to be this. this is the famous red lantern, right? that was hung from the area around the terrorist. they had no way of climbing to the top, over the canvas cover, to put it up there so those pictures are wrong. oddly, the last thing seen is the first thing found. you have to realize that, basically, the
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mariners museum was selected to be the depository for all monitor objects. for the first 10-15 years of the project, isn't this great? it's down there and we get these objects up, which are pretty fabulous. all of a sudden, there is the idea, we actually can bring parts of the monitor upthe owner of the vessel is no aha, and they orchestrated a partnership they selected the mariners museum to be the suppository, and than they actually go to the u.s. navy, and we get the cooperation of
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what is known as dive team 6. these guys recover the monitor is in 235 feet of water. this means you cannot just put on scuba diving, go down there. it is a very serious impression diving. at first, more objects coming up. then, the idea is that we cut away the whole section of the monitor. by cutting away this section m eans we can bring up all of this armor plate, we can bring up the propeller, we can bring up the entire engine room. this is the oldest complete 19th-century steam engine maritime steam engine in the world. so, we bring up the engine, we bring up the armor plate, then the idea is, let's bring up the turett. the turet turerett. she weighs 120 tons free tons. you have to realize the monitor was the plate, that is all made in baltimore, then it is shipped of the staten
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island where it is put together, and then what do they figure out? oh, we cannot pick up the tour turret soup on the monitor. they have to take it halfway apart, ship it over, reap the play on. the monitor
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is built in just over 100 days, and they are over 30 manufacturers are part of the construction of the monitor. this is an assembly line production and, the likes of which had never been seen. all of these parts have to, and they are all purposed fit. the turret weighed 120 tons, then 10 tons of concretion, then two 11 inch doll during guns at 8000 daldren guns at 8000 pounds each. the lift component it is complex. basically, we have to figure out how to bring it up. the divers, we build a
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frame. then we build what is called the spider. ooh, gosh. the spider is designed by nasa. it is fabricated by the newport news ship building which is right down the street from the mariners museum. the first time out there, they have to fit this underneath the turret. the turret has to be jacked up on the bottom and then have this plaque form plate under her, and then we have to bring this of these arms go out like this. you are doing this in 235 feet of water. how may have been off of cape hatteras before? is it
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happy water? no. >> i had to go out there one time and they said, you better take your dramamine. i said, they probably know what they are talking about. thank goodness, because it is where two currents meet. labrador and the gulfstream. they had to fit that under and then they had to have the right weather conditions to bring this thing up and it was an amazing thing sight to see. once you get it up, what are you going to do with it? the big problem, you have several different materials that are on the monitor. just, the 11 inch dalgrens themselves, they are cast-iron which is a different party property of dissolution
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when it is under salt water. it got ties it graviti zes, so this has to go in a tank that has a solution and an electric current. basically, this is a reconstruction of what we found on the monitor of the worthington pump. henry worthington was one of the most brilliant mechanical engineers of the 19th century, and he invented these pumps. the pumps are down in the engine rooms, and they also have an andrews
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pump, which throws a stream of water as wide as a man, one could say. let's just be on the monitor on december 30th. the timeline goes, noon, we see storms in the distance. 4:00, swell, but the water is breaking around to the turret, 5:00, let's have dinner. 7:00, storm hits. 8:30, the water is gaining. 9:30, we cut the line, drop our anchor. 10:00, we have our distress signals up. those in rhode island do not see it first. between 10:30 and 12:30 is where the rescue operation took place. they knew at 10:30, they had to get off of the monitor. everything is steam powered on the monitor. as a
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result, when you hear that pump do it's last return, you know that what? the ship is doomed. one thing talks about wading down in the ship. he was going to go back and take all of his documents because he was paymaster, and then he realized, the water is at my waist. i think i'd rather save myself rather than those documents. so, we recover. actually, there were two seamen on the monitor or in the turret, and we have come very close to naming them. these two shoes were on the same body, and if you notice, there is a slight different brand, different brands of shoes. notice, these guys have a wing tip, this guy does not. we find an entire pea coat, which is actually called a pilot's coat that we actually
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put back. it is called a pilot's coat because it has a pocket up your. that meant it would have been used by an enlisted man excuse me, a warrant officer. we think this is on the body of a man known as jacob nicholas. we cannot be sure because of the dna testing that only brought us to two different people for that body. but he had in his pocket a spoon that said j.n. his father was a tailor so that is why yet such a fine coat on. some of the pathos of the monitor was that the jacob nicholas writes after christmas and says, man, had this great meal. he talks about getting fats, he talks about the great fruitcake, and
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then he says, we just out orders is a south. some of the old salts are worried about going around cape hatteras, but i think we will be ok. will jacob niklas is one of the 16 men that go down on the monitor. and you have to divide them all up because you can count where some of them missed getting into the long, get washed off the deck. one man, he had just joined the navy 30 days before. he actually had never been to sea before. he is down in his cabin seasick as can be. frank butts goes and says, you have to get out of here. we are in and abandoning ship. and he says, i am so sick, i am going to die here anyway. leave me alone. and so they
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did. the big thing is that jacob nicholas will go down. his sister writes. the reply letters are all going to come from a doctor. basically, he gets this letter and he will write back. your brother did his duty well. till the very end. but i am too unwell to dictate much more of this note. he had his arm dislocated, it does not work anymore i am too unwell to dictate much more of this note. your brother did his duty well until the end and he has gone, i believe, to a better place, were storms do not come. thank you. >> huzzah!,
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>> that was great. we will have a few minutes for question and if you would have a question, common down to the microphone to ask that. anyone for a question? wow. >> i guess i told the story. >> very complex, these objects. we have a conservation team of 10 people, and each one has a little specialities like claw, wood, and iron, and actually, we have the stories of black kathy. we had just hired a person from the queens and revenge project, and he is developing a machine to go down the barrel and remove the concretion. the bets are on our weather lieutenant
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whiskers, the cat, is up the barrel or not. if he is, all the stories he tells will be true. i think it is very, very interesting, and it is a fabulous story. it is a story that we could tell for all day because of just how the ship work. ship worked. and really, it was not a well-designed worship. it could not go to war ship. it could not go to sea. instead of the 360 range of firing, it only had about 200. the bad communications. you could not see out of the turret, so they will make a lot of modifications out of the paseo class. and the commander of the monitor will take command of the and does a bunch of studies
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about its operations. still, you can build it up in the north, but the trouble is, they have to take them to ports in the south. to get there, you have to go to sea. >> i am david from charlotte. thank you for speaking with us this morning. how much longer will the turret be in solution, and how do you know how long it needs to be there? and will you live to see the project finished? >> if i live as long as ed barrs, i will. >> so that means 30 years. no, the guns were estimated that they will
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be ready in about three to four years. the trouble with the guns is that the carriages alone have oak, brass, bronze, cast-iron, and rod iron. we have taken one apart and we are conserving each one of those materials separately. and then we have to put it back together. however, when we put it on display, the carriages going to be here and we will have to elevate that gone over it because the carriage can no longer support 8000 pounds. really, we think the dahgrens probably weigh under eight tons now because of gravitation. the turrets, the trouble is the salts that all down between the eighth layers of one inch iron plates. we had to take
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everything out of there. this summer we are picking the turret up and turning it right side up because it is resting on the roof. the roof is not supposed to take 120 tons. we are going to spin it and i cannot wait to see this happen. we will spin it and put it back down so we can take off the root. the root and plates are rod iron, so we will be able to move the project forward a little more quickly. the first idea was to take the turret apart plate by plate, and we probably could have finished it in about 10 years. the trouble is, if you take it all apart, the turret was not perfectly round. they all leave a different type of impact on the turret, so if you took of the turret plates apart, it would
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be difficult to put them all back together properly. we decided to maintain the integrity of the turret itself. that is why it is going to take a little longer. it has drawn out the salt on the conservator, so i cannot tell you how they are making their decisions because they test the water, and they hum and haw, drain it, put more stuff in, and when you go see the turret, you can see all of the salt residue around its conservation tank on all of the wires that are sending the logical current through. it is pretty fascinating the electrical current through. it is pretty fascinating. if no
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other questions, i just wanted to leave you with one great naval hero who said, we will always sink before surrender. thank you.
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