Iron Dawn

The Monitor, the Merrimack, and the Civil War Sea Battle that Changed History

Iron Dawn

“An utterly absorbing account of one of history’s most momentous battles” (Forbes) that not only changed the Civil War but the future of all sea power—from acclaimed popular historian Richard Snow, who “writes with verve and a keen eye” (The New York Times Book Review).

No single sea battle has had more far-reaching consequences than the one fought in Hampton Roads, Virginia, in 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, took a radical step to combat the Union blockade, building an iron fort containing ten heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack. The North got word of the project, and, in panicky desperation, commissioned an eccentric inventor named John Ericsson to build the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship. Rushed through to completion in just one hundred days, it mounted only two guns, but they were housed in a shot-proof revolving turret. The ship hurried south from Brooklyn, only to arrive to find the Merrimack had already sunk half the Union fleet—and would be back to finish the job. When she returned, the Monitor was there. She fought the Merrimack to a standstill, and, many believe, saved the Union cause. As soon as word of the fight spread, Great Britain—the foremost sea power of the day—ceased work on all wooden ships. A thousand-year-old tradition ended and the naval future opened.

Richly illustrated with photos, maps, and engravings, Iron Dawn “renders all previous accounts of the encounter between the Monitor and the Merrimack as obsolete as wooden war ships” (The Dallas Morning News). Richard Snow brings to vivid life the tensions of the time in this “lively tale of science, war, and clashing personalities” (The Wall Street Journal).
  • Scribner | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476794198 | 
  • October 2017
List Price $18.00 (price may vary by retailer)
Ships on or around October 24, 2017

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About the Author

Richard Snow
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Richard Snow

Richard Snow was born in New York City and he graduated with a B.A. from Columbia College. He worked at American Heritage magazine for nearly four decades and was its editor-in-chief for seventeen years. He is the author of several books, including two novels and a volume of poetry. Snow has served as a consultant for historical motion pictures—among them Glory—and has written for documentaries, including the Burns brothers’ Civil War, and Ric Burns’s PBS film Coney Island. Most recently, he served as a consultant on Ken Burns’s World War II series, The War.

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