|The Monitor sank on the 31st of December, 1862 in 230 ft of water off the coast of Cape Hatteras. 16 of the crew were lost but most of the men were saved by the brave Rhode Island.|
By Jim Dyson
The U.S.S. Monitor made naval history when it fought the C.S.S. Virginia to a draw on March 9, 1862. This battle, the first of ironclad vessels, made all wooden warships in the world obsolete and ushered in the age of rotating gun turrets. The Monitor and Virginia never met again, the C.S.S.Virginia was blown up by her crew to avoid capture near Craney Island, Portsmouth, Virginia and the U.S.S. Monitor sank December 31, 1862 in a violent storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina .
|U.S. Navy divers search for U.S.S. Monitor artifacts.|
|Conserved clock face of the U.S.S. Monitor clock|
|Conserved case of the U.S.S. Monitor Clock|
The Mariners' Museum has been, since it's inception in the late 1930's, a world class maritime museum and with the addition of the U.S.S. Monitor Center, has become a unique treasure. One of the artifacts recovered from the Monitor was the brass engine room clock with the remains of the clock hands frozen in time at 1:05 am, just 25 minutes before the ship disappeared beneath the waves. The clock's position low in the ship's engine room was flooded before the Monitor sank at 1:30 am, so this dial time fits with eye witness accounts.
|Movement as recovered with 140 years of sediment|
|Roger Conner (left) and Jim Dyson conserve parts of the U.S.S. Monitor Clock|
The decision was made to conserve the clock case and dial to stabilize it and save the frozen dial time for future generations to contemplate. The clock movement was a much more difficult problem. The missing parts that had completely rusted away required extensive research and skillful machining to reproduce. Clockmaker Roger Conner of Virginia Beach, marine clock historian James Dyson of Portsmouth and Mariners' Museum Senior Conservator Eric Nordgren collaborated on making the movement look as it did in 1862 and presenting it along with the case and dial for public display.
A trip to Mariners' Museum to see the clock and other artifacts recovered from the Monitor is a trip that all students of the Civil War and maritime history should make. The USS Monitor Center
The Mariners' Museum . U.S.S. Monitor Center at the Mariners Museum
About the author: Jim Dyson is a renowned expert on Chelsea marine clocks with over 20 years experience collecting and researching all facets of Chelsea history. He is the author and curator of the “Chelsea Clock Museum,” the online source of Chelsea history and museum quality marine clock knowledge Chelsea Clock Museumand Director of the Marine Clock and Instrument Division of Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery. Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery-Chelsea Clocks & Barometers
Click here to go to Skipjack's Nautical Living home page.