When in Doubt, Claim Victory and Leave

The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End

CSS Virginia

CSS Virginia

On This Date in History: 

In the early parts of the American Civil War, the Union warship Merrimack was sunk in Norfolk harbor.  The Confederates promptly raised the ship and took it back for repairs.  But, the repairs they made were not ordinary.  Instead, they put iron plating on the wooden ship.  While it had armaments, it was thought that the “ironclad” could be used to ram enemy wooden ships.  So, on March 8, 1862 the ironclad, rechristened the Virginia, ran a Union blockade of Hampton Roads, Virginia.  The ship sank a Union sloop and seriously damaged a frigate.  On this date in 1862 the Virginia returned to finish off the frigate and take on the other ships in the blockade only to find themselves facing the great cheesebox. 

On the Monitor's Deck

On the Monitor's Deck

There were those on the Union side that referred

Closer Look At the Monitor

Closer Look At the Monitorto Swedish inventor John Ericsson's creation as "Ericsson's Folly. " Others called it a "cheesebox on a raft." Its real name was the Monitor and was an iron clad ship that rode low in the water. It had a flat deck and a rotating gun turret, which was also known as a "monitor" thus the ships christened moniker. I'm not sure if either side knew that the other was working on an iron clad ship but it probably was not coincidence that both sides came up with the same idea at the same time. Anyway, the two titans came face to face and the battle was on. For four hours, they fired shot after shot at one another and each hit resulted in the cannonballs bouncing off the iron hulls. There was a problem with the Monitor as the turret wouldn't stay in place and was hard to control so the crew just let it revolve and have observers tell them if they had hit anything or not. In all of the confusion, the two ships actually ran into each other at least 5 times. The Titans Clash

A flash of gunpowder blinded the captain of the Monitor and so he withdrew temporarily  to gain his wits.  Well, the captain of the Virginia thought that the Monitor was chickening out and on the retreat…which was a convenient thought because the only ship that was really wounded was his own.  Perhaps from running into the Monitor or as a result from cannon shot, but for whatever reason the Virginia had sprung a leak.  So, while the Monitor‘s captain tried to regain his sight, the the captain of the Virginia thought it was a good opportunity to leave.  The two combatants returned home, both declaring victory.  I suppose the argument for the Confederates was that the Union ship withdrew while the Union could say that the Confederates abandoned the field of battle.  Either way, this battle is most significant in that it marked the beginning of the end of wooden war ships.

Was Eventually a Pirate Ship?

Was Eventually a Pirate Ship?

Waddell: Did He Feel Bad?

Waddell: Did He Feel Bad?

Now, these captains seem to have issues but not as many as the Confederate captain of the Shenandoah who left for combat toward the end of the war in 1865.  His mission was to disrupt the Northern economy by attacking whaling ships.  So, he went to the Pacific Ocean.  He went all the way to Australia as he scuttled and burned ships.  Trouble was, the war was over.  One whaling captain showed Captain James Waddell a newspaper announcing the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.  Waddell thought it was a trick.  So, he went north to the Bering Strait where he took down some more ships.  Finally, he came across British ship and Waddell asked the captain for news from the war.  The captain asked “what war?”  The Civil War had been over for 4 months.  When the Shenandoah decided it best not to return to America and instead headed west.  When it had reached England, it had sailed over 60,000 miles and nearly circumnavigated the globe.  It took down 38 ships, many of which were done in after the war had ended.  The tardy shot it fired in the Bering Strait was the last of the Civil War.  Not sure if Captain Waddell felt bad or not…but I’m sure the 38 whalers weren’t too pleased.

Indianapolis NWS to do survey Monday

Indianapolis NWS to do survey Monday

Weather Bottom Line:  On Sunday, the storms came in before the sun went down and there was plenty of dynamic energy aloft to support some pretty decent storms.  Most were, from my perspective, trying to become developed super cells but didn’t quite make it.  As I had suspected, the activity was more exciting to the west and north with a very strong cell in the extreme northern part of the viewing area in Lawrence County.  A tornado was spawned and as of this writing, there has been limited but extensive damage.  Here is a initial report from the AP.  I am not aware of any injuries or fatalities.  There were several cells south of Louisville that were indicated by radar as having rotation but produced mainly gusty winds as the rotation was mainly aloft. 

Now, we cool off a bit in the first part of the week then warm up prior to a cold front.  After the front we chill down for the latter part of the week.  The GFS even tries to throw out some snow by Friday or Saturday.  Not sure about that…but what would be of concern is that it appears to me that the general upper level flow remains similar to what we had today.  The SPC does not advertise any severe threat thsi far out for the middle of the week but, it would be something that should be considered as a possibility as we continue down the road.


7 Responses

  1. Great posts for the last couple of days. I had a friend from Coffeyville so I was pretty familiar with the last ride of the Dalton Gang already. I guess these guys got what was coming to them. Judging from the holes in their pants those guys look to be pretty shot up and pretty thoroughly dead!

    By the way, don’t sell Emmet’s girlfriend short. Back in those days if two were betrothed a person was looked down upon for breaking the deal, if I’m not mistaken. She was probably just true blue. Of course the Daltons were something of celebrities back in their hometown, right? Having Emmet for a boyfriend probably brought the future Mrs. Dalton some noteriety, don’t you think?

    Isn’t is funny how the history books of our childhood always painted that Civil War battle of the ironsides as the Monitor versus the Merrimack, not the Monitor versus the Virginia? I had probably heard the CSA re-christened name but had forgotten it. Great story about Captain Waddell’s escapades, too. Sinking whaling ships was a pretty dirty business considering they were unarmed (if you didn’t include the harpoon cannon). I wonder how many folks perished at his hands months after the war was really over? That hearkens back to our discussion regarding the Battle of New Orleans. Pretty sad. We take our communication for granted today. It’s hard today to imagine news taking weeks or even months to reach one in today’s time.

  2. Despite their dubious reasons for going to war, you have to respect the sheer ingenuity of it.

    A sad fact that nothing advances technology quite like war.

  3. War does provide many innovations that are carried into peace time. The mother of invention, perhaps?

  4. It is rather odd about the Merrimack since the southerners wrote the history. I thought it was interesting that Waddell was supposed to stop US economic interests so the went to Australia! Sounds like a vacation to me!

  5. I don’t know how much of a vacation spot that Australia was considered during that time being as it was a penal colony. I guess it beat being at home during the war though!

  6. I didn’t think about that…was it still a big prison camp in 1865? Hmmm….stumped. Maybe he was plotting a course for Amelia Earhart.

  7. Poor Amelia. Maybe she would have had better luck finding a whaling vessel than that small speck of an island she was trying to find.

    With regards to Australia, the last load of prisoners arrived in 1868 according to a source that I found on the web. I do think by that time though it was becoming a lot more hospitable since many of the convicts had become free and were living somewhat normal lives:



    But the guy was chasing whaling ships–Australia may have been more attractive than the smell of boiling blubber. You may be right after all.

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