Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Civil War Oddities #36

John Ericsson, the genius who produced the Monitor, was forced to build his ship with private capital, some $275,000 in all and was to be reimbursed by the Federal Government only if it were effective against the Confederate ironclad Merrimac, or Virginia.

The Monitor was modeled after Swedish lumber rafts Ericsson had known in his youth; its deck was only two inches above water. An effort to sell the idea of such a ship to Napoleon III failed, but the French did order five ironclad ships, despite the reputation of the inventor as a crank.

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