The Confederate Ironclad "Virginia" was a compelling read to say the least.The subject of this book is the origin of the Ironclad battleships in the Americas, specifically relating to the ships "Virginia" and the "Monitor" in the beginning of the U.S. Civil War.
The book also is about, although much more subtly, how the South had the North extremely fearful of the South's capabilities for 2 months of this conflict.The author, Trexler, uses this book to focus on the "Virginia" and the circumstances regarding her invention, implementation, and destruction all in a relatively short time period. Prior to the civil war, all navies throughout the world were of a wooden variety.Ships had been built using wood for hundreds of years and this was common practice amongst shipyards.Beginning with the late 1830's however, both the French and the British, the long-time naval power of the world, began putting iron on the outsides of some of their warships.
This was done without the immediate threat of battle, and thus these ships were never tested in actual combat situations so nobody really knew the effectiveness of them. In Virginia, in 1860, the Gosport Yard was the best shipyard the America's had built, and was home to a dry-dock and 3 shipbuilding warehouses. It was home to the ship "Merrimack," a five-year-old vessel that was one of the largest in the Navy.The ship was also retired, have spent a few uneventful years patrolling the West Indies.As the "Merrimack" sat rotting away in the shipyard the United States was in a state of upheaval, with the southern states South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas all seceding from the Union. With Virginia in constant deliberations over whether to secede or stay loyal to the Union, President Lincoln and his cabinet were forced to make a decision.Should they stay com.