That's Not in my American History Book

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Posted by Mabry Tyson on November 07, 2005 at 13:54:01:

In Reply to: Errata posted by Mabry Tyson on February 28, 2003 at 19:24:02:

This book purports to be "a compilation of little-known events and forgotten heroes". I can't vouch for the other sections, but the section on the Monitor vs Virginia has so many errors, that I can't trust anything else in the book. There is a reason this shouldn't be in history books -- it isn't factual. This author has completely confused the events of March 8 and 9.

The book states that Mallory was assigned the job of destroying the US Navy. Not so, his job was to protect the Confederacy. The US's Anaconda Plan involved seizing or destroying any ship trading with the Confederacy. The CSN tried to protect that trade.

The author refers to the USS Merrimack as the "Merrimac". He says it was scuttled when the "Union Army abandoned the city". No, it was when the Union Navy abandoned the navy yard. The Union Army never had control of the city any more than the US Army has control of Norfolk now.

"U.S. leaders concluded that only one man possessed the capabilities to design a warship to contend with the Merrimac, John Ericsson" Not at all. The USN issued a general call for plans for such ships. As best I can tell, there was no particular thought of Ericsson at the time, but he did submit a design and he received one of several contracts granted for these ships.

The book states " of his [Ericsson's] experimental weapons had blown up, killing the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, along with the U.S. Secretary of State..." This is a bit distorted. Ericsson had built a gun called the Oregon gun. Robert Stockton modified that design and built a bigger gun called the "Peacemaker". It was the Peacemaker that failed. (

The next several paragraphs contain statements that I think are not factual or are distortions, but there are so many clear errors, I will skip them.

"Freezing waters sometimes spilled through the gun turrets, soaking the crew." Besides the water not being freezing, the water was leaking under the turret and in ventilation spots, not through the holes for the guns.

Regarding the battle, the author is again skimpy on details, which he often gets wrong. "In attempting to escape, the Minnesota ran aground." Actually she ran aground attempting to get to the battle. I presume the author confused the Congress with the Minnesota.

The author confuses the events involving the Monitor. He indicates that the Monitor steamed up while the battle was ongoing (on March 8) and that the Monitor and Virginia fought each other on Saturday, but it actually wasn't involved until the next day. He refers to the injury to Worden as happening on Saturday.

The author apparently confused the fact that Jones, after the battle with the Cumberland, Congress, and Minnesota on Saturday, intended to return to fighting the Minnesota on Sunday. The Monitor arrived at Hampton Roads late Saturday night and the battle with the Monitor actually took place on Sunday morning (March 9).

"On March 9, as the Virginia approached the Minnesota, crewmen were surprised to find the Monitor still on the scene." This poor author seems to have not even read the briefest description of the battle.

Because the author put the injury to Worden on Saturday, he fumbles the ending of the battle on Sunday

Although the author gives the title "Capt." to both Worden and Jones, each was a Lieutenant.

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