National Geographic : 1975 Jan
distress lantern-and 11 men-vanished be neath the waves. Commander Bankhead re ported that Monitor sank about 1 a.m. on December 31, 1862, "about 25 miles south of Cape Hatteras ... depth of water 30 fathoms." In all, 16 men had perished. One hundred and eleven years passed. Then the captain's reports, logs of Rhode Island, State of Georgia, and Passaic,as well as nu merous other accounts of the disaster, enabled Gordon Watts and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC researcher Dorothy A. Nicholson to plot the final two days of Monitor'scourse to catastro phe. An 1857 Coast Survey chart helped to determine soundings and navigational fixes. The wind and sea conditions, culled from deck logs and weighed against knowledge of today's currents, yielded set and drift calcu lations. These established the likely track of the ships, and led us to Monitor's grave. On our 1973 Eastward expedition, which finally located Monitor, turbulent currents Thunder of a new age rumbles across Hampton Roads (above) where shot and shell of Monitor, at left, and Merrimack ricochet off each other. Though the battle ended in stalemate, the Union blockade was preserved. Hysteria born of fear that the Confederate Merrimack might steam up the Potomac to bombard the Capitol was calmed. One of Monitor's distinctive iron deck light covers, wholly encrusted (right), has been recovered near the wreck and cleaned (below)-ironclad proof of discovery.