This Day in Tech: March 9, 1862; Ironclads

Monkey Fist
Total Views: 11
March 10, 2012



1862: Civil War ironclads stage the first sea battle in naval history between armor-plated vessels.

By Tony Long

The battle took place at Hampton Roads, Virginia, where a day earlier the CSS Virginia (known popularly as the Merrimack, her name when she had been a frigate in the pre-war U.S. fleet) savaged the Union blockade squadron anchored there. The Union guns proved ineffective against the armor plating protecting the Confederate marauder, allowing the ironclad to move in close and even ram and sink a ship. The Virginia was returning at daybreak to finish off the Union fleet when the ungainly looking USS Monitor showed up to engage it.

keep reading

image8Battle of Lissa (1866)

(sometimes called Battle of Vis) took place on 20 July 1866 in the Adriatic Sea near the Dalmatian island of Lissa (“Vis” in Croatian) and was a decisive victory for an outnumbered Austrian Empire force over a superior Italian force.

It was the first major sea battle between ironclads and one of the last to involve deliberate ramming. (wiki)

right: postcard of memorial commemorating the Battle of Lissa



In a dramatically simplified lithograph by Kapp, Ferdinand Max watches close by as the
Re d’Italia up-ends into the blue Adriatic. super enlarged view

image source; above and below


Contemporary painting by Eduard Nezbeda shows the Kaiser ramming the Re di Portogallo. The wooden ship lost her foremast and funnel to raking fire from the U.S.-built Italian ship.

With the Austrian two-decker’s figurehead still embedded in her hull, the Italian managed to escape in the smoke while the Kaiser backed off for another go. The Portogallo retreated to Ancona with the rest of the Italian fleet and resumed duty after repairs.


Another veteran of Lissa, the 1,724-ton wooden screw corvette Erzherzog Friedrich was launched in April 1857. With her light draft she was able to operate close in to shore or in shoal waters anywhere. This proved helpful in her later career as a scientific exploration ship of the Austrian Navy. This photo was taken in 1873, seven years after the battle. –source


Battle of Lissa, painting by Anton Romako, 1880
Full resolution‎ (1,576 × 2,017 pixels)

On July 20, 1866, near the island of Vis (Lissa) in the Adriatic, the Austrian fleet, under the command of Rear-Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, made its name in the modern era at the Battle of Lissa during the Third Italian War of Independence. The battle pitted Austrian naval forces against the naval forces of the newly created Kingdom of Italy. It was a decisive victory for an outnumbered Austrians over a superior Italian force, and was the first major European sea battle involving ships using iron and steam, and one of the last to involve large wooden battleships. more on wiki

more: Full Statistics on the Ships that Fought at Lissa

more: Essay on the Evolution of the Ram in Steam Navies

also: Faces of 150-year-old sailors reconstructed

Forensic anthropologists have reconstructed the faces of two sailors whose skulls were recovered from the USS Monitor which sank 150 years ago.

Originally discovered by Navy divers during the recovery of the gun turret from the ocean floor in 2002, the remains were retrieved by archaeologist Eric Emery of the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii during the excavation.

Back to Main