Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack

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9780060524043: Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack

At the outbreak of the Civil War, North and South quickly saw the need to develop the latest technology in naval warfare, the ironclad ship. After a year-long scramble to finish first, in a race filled with intrigue and second guessing, blundering and genius, the two ships -- the Monitor and the Merrimack -- after a four-hour battle, ended the three-thousand-year tradition of wooden men-of-war and ushered in "the reign of iron."

In the first major work on the subject in thirty-five years, novelist, historian, and tall-ship sailor James L. Nelson, acclaimed author of the Brethren of the Coast trilogy, brilliantly recounts the story of these magnificent ships, the men who built and fought them, and the extraordinary battle that made them legend.

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About the Author:

James L. Nelson has served as a seaman, rigger, boatswain, and officer on a number of sailing vessels. He is the author of By Force of Arms, The Maddest Idea, The Continental Risque, Lords of the Ocean, and All the Brave Fellows -- the five books of his Revolution at Sea Saga. -- as well as The Guardship: Book One of the Brethren of the Coast. He lives with his wife and children in Harpswell, Maine.

From Publishers Weekly:

The Monitor-Merrimack showdown may be one of the Civil War’s most overhyped chestnuts: the two ships were by no means the first ironclads, and their long awaited confrontation proved an anticlimactic draw, their cannon fire clanging harmlessly off each other’s hulls. Still, the author of this lively history manages to bring out the story’s dramatic elements. Nelson, author of the Revolution at Sea series of age-of-sail adventure novels, knows how to narrate a naval crisis. He gives a harrowing account of the Merrimack’s initial onslaught, in which it destroyed two wooden Union warships in a bloody and chaotic battle the day before the Monitor arrived, and of the Monitor’s nightmarish final hours as it foundered in a storm at sea. Equally arresting is his retelling of the feverish race between North and South to beat the other side to the punch with their respective wonder ships. He delves into every aspect of the ships’ innovative design and construction, and draws vivid portraits of the colorful characters who crafted them, especially the brilliant naval architect John Ericsson, one of that epic breed of engineer-entrepreneurs who defined the 19th century. The resulting blend of skillful storytelling and historical detail will please Civil War and naval engineering buffs alike.
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