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Battle of Hampton Roads Series

In observance of the Battle of Hampton Roads’ upcoming 159th anniversary, The Mariners’ Museum and Park will offer virtual programming on Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6 to commemorate the famous Civil War battle that changed modern naval history forever.

When the Union ironclad USS Monitor and the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia encountered each other at a roadstead where the Elizabeth and Nansemond rivers meet the James River on March 9, 1862, the two ironclads fought relentlessly for hours. While the battle ended in a draw, it also demonstrated the supremacy of iron and changed the very nature of naval warfare not only in America, but worldwide.

Join The Mariners’ Museum and its team of experts as they explore different and intriguing facets of this iconic battle, such as:

  • What vices plagued sailors on USS Monitor?
  • How were ironclads developed?
  • What were the lives of the sailors like?
  • How does romanticism and patriotism connect to this famous battle?
  • What new surprises have our Conservation team discovered?

Learn what the Museum team reveals as it seeks to find connections to these questions and more! Viewers are welcome to send any comments or questions to the presenters, and they will answer following the presentation.

Pre-registration for these
programs are required.
For additional assistance, questions
or support, please contact [email protected]

Can’t make the virtual program live?
No problem! Many of our programs are uploaded to our YouTube Channel shortly afterwards.


Spirits on USS Monitor: Alcohol and the Civil War Navy

Presenter: John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

Friday, March 5, 2021 • 12 p.m. (EST)

Drinking and fighting always seem to have some type of connection. Grog was first concocted in the 17th century eventually mixing rum, gin, or whiskey with water and lime/lemon. It was a boost to sailors fighting boredom on long sea journeys or giving a surge of instant courage when preparing for battle. Enlisted men could only drink when their grog ration was issued or when they were off duty. Officers, however, drank without care and were only punished when their intoxication became debilitating. Monitor’s paymaster, William Keeler, fought to do away with the grog ration saying drinking was the “curse of the navy.” Many Civil War soldiers and sailors were plagued by whiskey, whiskey, and more whiskey.

The Development of European Ironclads

Presenter: Erika Cosme, content and interpretation developer at The Mariners’ Museum

Saturday, March 6, 2021 • 10 a.m. (EST)

USS Monitor and CSS Virginia may be revolutionary ships. Neither was the first ironclad constructed, nor was the United States the first country to consider such a vessel. The concept of an ironclad ship dates back centuries before, and many were built and saw action before the culminating event called Battle of Hampton Roads. Beginning with the earliest notion of an ironclad and moving into the mid-19th century, this program will introduce why they were created, how they evolved, and their impact on naval advancement worldwide.

Foods and Feasts:
A Comparison of Enlisted and Officers Foods aboard USS Monitor

Saturday, March 6, 2021 • 11 a.m. (EST)

Presenters: The Mariners’ Museum Interpretation Team and Eric Jeanneret, volunteer costumed interpreter

Join The Mariners’ Museum Interpretation Team and Eric Jeanneret, a longtime costumed interpreter for the Museum’s Battle of Hampton Roads event, as they reveal important details about the history of Civil War food and present a comparison of food for enlisted and officers aboard USS Monitor.

Fresh and delicious food was not common during wartime, and this was especially true during the Civil War. George Geer, a First-Class Fireman who was stationed aboard Monitor, wrote in a letter to his wife in May 1862: “On Mondays Wednesdays and Saturdays we have Been Soup or perhaps a better name would be to call it Been Water.  I am often tempted to strip off my shirt and make a dive and see if there realy is Beens in the Bottom that gives it the flavor.  I think there must be but I seldom see them.”

Romanticism and Commercial Patriotism in the Art of the Battle of Hampton Roads

Saturday, March 6, 2021 • 1 p.m. (EST)

Presenter: Kyra Duffley, digital content assistant at The Mariners’ Museum

Have you ever wondered how paintings, especially ones depicted of war and fighting, are portrayed with such intricate details and vibrancy? Or have you questioned whether what is seen in the painting is what actually occurred? Come learn from Kyra Duffley, digital content assistant at The Mariners’ Museum, as she brings an enlightening perspective to the Battle of Hampton Roads in the form of art.

About the presentation: While mostly associated with France, the artistic movement of Romanticism can be seen in the way in which the American Civil War was depicted in commercial art and print media. Focusing on prints depicting the Battle of Hampton Roads, this art-based program will be a discussion of the importance and influence of commercial prints and printmaking as well as the illustrated news during the Civil War to not only tell eyewitness accounts and create a commercialized patriotism, but also to make the Civil War the first “illustrated” war.

Follow the Phoenix

Saturday, March 6, 2021 • 2 p.m. (EST)

Presenter: Hannah Fleming, maritime archaeologist at The Mariners’ Museum

Come discover a fragile reminder of the past with Hannah Fleming, maritime archaeologist at The Mariners’ Museum, when she pieces together the history of an artifact found from USS Monitor.

About the presentation: Finding archaeological artifacts often leads to more questions than answers. Dirty, sometimes fragmentary, and often out of place, a new find begs the questions: What is it? Who used it? Why is this here? Where was it made?

This talk traces the history of one such USS Monitor artifact, the Resurgam bottle, otherwise known as the phoenix bottle, from production and use, through loss and recovery, to identification and new life in The Mariners’ Museum.