Sunday, March 4, 2012

Civil War Sunday-The Battle of Hampton Roads and the Link with Johnson City, NY

On Thursday and Friday of this week is the 150th anniversary of a major battle.

You may know it better as the battle of the "Monitor vs. Merrimack". (although, in another inaccuracy, the ship was then known as the C.S.S. Virginia.  But I learned it as the Merrimack.)

Many people neglect the naval aspect of the Civil War.  I was one of them, until I attended a reenactment weekend in the summer of 2008 on some rural land in the Town of Binghamton, in upstate New York.  There was an exhibit there educating people on the naval battles of the Civil War, the life of sailors, and the importance of the battles.  I learned, for the first time, about the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley (which I will be visiting later this month, finally:  Hurrah!) and also about the Pennisula Campaign of 1862, during which this most famous of the Civil War naval battles took place. 

There was also a reinactor playing a Confederate General (I'm not sure which one) who very eloquently pled the case of the South. I learned a lot from him.  Even if I, as a Northerner, don't necessarily agree, it is important to listen and try to understand.

And, I would add, during my education in New York public schools, it was the only Civil War naval battle I learned about.  Although, I admit my memory could be faulty.  (let's just say this was in the 1960's....)

You have to admit, it's a little difficult to visit a naval battleground.  But, besides the obviously strategic importance of the naval battles, there is the aspect of technology that fascinates many people.

I have since also learned about the link between our part of upstate NY and the Monitor.  Some of the wood cut and milled for the Monitor came from an area near to where I live.  At one time, there was a historical marker at the Oakdale Mall shopping center in Johnson City commemorating this fact.  Bigler's Steam Mill, which milled that wood, is where the shopping center sits now.   I still don't know what happened to the marker, which disappeared years ago.

I was hoping to visit Hampton Roads and Newport News later this month.  I will be visiting South and North Carolina instead, but hope to get to the U.S.S. Monitor center of the Mariners Museum one day-and complete the circle of the origins of the Monitor.


  1. PLEASE let me know when you plan to visit the Hunley.... You know we have a specialty license plate here featuring it?

  2. A- The Mariner's Museum is worth the visit. J-

  3. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.


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