Wednesday, March 13, 2013

USS Monitor Sailors Buried with Honors

Two sailors found in the wreck of the USS Monitor were buried on March 8, 2012 at Arlington National Cemetery. 

USS Monitor Sailors Buried
at Arlington National Cemetery
(Courtesy of Yahoo News)
The remains of the men were taken to their gravesite by horse-drawn caissons, one pulled by a team of six black horses and the other pulled by six white horses.  White-gloved sailors carried the caskets to their final resting place near the cemetery's amphitheater.  A marker with the names of all sixteen men who died on board the Monitor will be placed at gravesite.

The remains could not be fully identified but researchers were able to narrow the possibilities to six men.  One of the men was between 17 and 24 years old and the other was in his 30s.  The older sailor is suspected to be Robert Williams, the ship's fireman who would have tended the Monitor's coal-fired engine.

Loss of the USS Monitor
The design of Monitor was well-suited for river combat, however her low freeboard and heavy turret made her highly unseaworthy in rough waters.  This feature probably led to her loss on December 31, 1862 when she foundered during a heavy storm and sank off Cape Hatteras.  Sixteen of her 62-member crew were either lost overboard or went down with the ironclad, while many others were saved by boats sent from Rhode Island.

Please see Civil War Ironclads for pictures of the Monitor turret.  Also read more about the Monitor's famous battle with the CSS Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads.  Plan a live or virtual visit to the USS Monitor Center at the Mariner's Museum.

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