Gary Gentile's USS MONITOR Shipwreck Books
Gary Gentiles Shipwreck and wreck diving books.
  Ironclad Legacy: Battle of the USS Monitor
ISBN 0-9621453-8-6 hardcover with color dust jacket 6 x 9 vertical, 280 pages, 43 color photos, 66 black & white photos.

When John Ericsson conceived his "impregnable battery" he had no idea that it would still be fighting battles a hundred years after his death. In the mid nineteenth century he struggled to have his concepts approved by distinguished industrialists mired in the past. But then came the War between the States, and with war always comes technological advancement and the adoption of previously unacceptable innovations. Word arrived in Washington that the South was building an ironclad ram that could destroy the Union fleet with single-handed impunity. Unwittingly, the CSS Virginia (ex-USS Merrimack) provided the impetus to goad reluctant Northern politicians into funding the construction of an ironclad opponent. Thus the Monitor came into being.
Then came the battle that forever changed the way naval strategists viewed warship design and ship-to-ship engagement. The Monitor and the Virginia fought to a standstill, neither ship inflicting significant damage upon the other. Each was invulnerable to the other and to land-based batteries. Nevertheless, by the end of that year (1862) both ironclads were gone: the Virginia was blown up by her crew to prevent capture, the Monitor foundered in a gale off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
All was quiescent for more than a century, until the Monitor's badly deteriorated remains were positively identified in 1974. Within months an impregnable barrier was placed around the wreck site: a political artifice called a National Marine Sanctuary.
The Monitor's next battle became a legal contest: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted the ironclad as its own private research domain, the author wanted it open to the public for whom it had been established as a sanctuary. The controversy raged for six years, until the author won vindication in a court of law. He then led an expedition to the site and took dramatic underwater photographs that captured the Monitor the way it was in 1990--the way it will never be again.
No matter how strongly constructed, the ironclad cannot win the battle against the forces of time and nature. Until its ultimate demise, the best we can do is watch the wreck as it collapses more each year--like a loved one on her deathbed--and remember the Monitor for what meaning it has brought into our lives: politically, historically, and culturally. Of these concepts the Monitor is an everlasting symbol.
The book is amply illustrated with black and white historical photographs, as well as color photographs of the wreck as it appears on the bottom.
"Noah gave us the heritage of the sea, NOAA took it away."
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