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Duel of the Ironclads: The Monitor vs. The Virginia
Patrick O’Brien
Non Fiction Picture Book
Ages 6 to 10
Walker and Company, 2003, 0-8027-8842-4
  In a day and age when metal is used to build so much it is hard to imagine how revolutionary and unique the first iron ships were. Wooden ships were all the world had known in shipbuilding for so long. It was in fact it was the lack of resources which drove ship builders to really try the new ideas. In the American Civil War, the South did not have the means to build as many wooden ships as the North could. They decided to try to build something different, something that would last, and that would be able to sink the North’s wooden ships without itself being as vulnerable as the wooden ships were. Ironically, the Southern ship builders used the hull of a Northern ship, the Merrimack, on which to build their very first ironclad. They renamed her the Virginia. Northern spies alerted the generals in Washington about this new threat and the alarmed Northerners got to work building their own ironclad. This extraordinary vessel, the Monitor, had a revolving turret, something that had never before been seen on a ship. The Virginia had a brief time when it was able to attack some Union ships. Then the Monitor arrived on the scene.
  What followed was an epic battle between these two remarkable vessels. Patrick O’Brien is an exceptional storyteller, showing us through his narrative both the times and these two remarkable ships. Never again would any navy think about iron ships in the same way. The author also tells us about the people who played an important role in this change. His exceptional watercolor and gouache illustrations bring to life the action of the battles, they show us how the ships were built, and reveal the significance of the famous duel between the Virginia and the Monitor. An afterword at the end of the book describes where the remains of the Monitor can be found.

Duel of the Ironclads


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