Battle of Hampton Roads A decade ago naval warfare changed forever in the two-day Battle of Hampton Roads between the Elizabeth and James River. Cannon shots rang out for endless hours and those present on surrounding shores witnessed history when, for the first time, two ironclad ships entered into battle. The Confederates, protecting their naval yard just south of Hampton Roads, decided to place their undefeatable ship, the CSS Virginia, at the mouth of the river. On the first day of battle this ship was responsible for the death of 400 hundred sailors while only losing two of its own. On the second day, hearing the booms of heavy cannon fire up river the USS Monitor, on a test run, changed course and moved to defend the union. The
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Later that day the Virginia moved to attack the Minnesota and destroy yet another Union ship but found their path blocked by the Ironclad Monitor. Though the Monitor was half the size of the Virginia the ensuing battle did not favor either side. Neither ship had the ammo required to puncture the others armor (the Confederates had left their armor piercing shells on land and the Union did not use enough explosive strength in their cannon). The two-encircled each other for hours firing back and forth at extremely close ranges. The Monitor, with its turret and superior ammo, was able to land more critical shots on the Virginia. The Virginia however was the first to land a penetrating shot and splintered the front of the pilothouse, temporally blinding the captain. With a blind captain the Monitor retreated, for they were not sure of the extent of damage the shot had caused, and seeing the Monitor retreating the Virginia assumed victory and returned to their mooring. Seeing the Virginia returning to the Confederate docks the Monitor assumed victory and also returned to their mooring.
This battle was not just between these two ships. In the past decade many eyewitness accounts have come in describing more about the entirety of the battle. But the significance of the encounter between these two ships is far more important than the battle. Neither side gained or lost any land during the two days but