The USS Monitor was an ingenious but hurried response to both the imminent threat of the Confederate ironclad, CSS Virginia, and to the growing prospect of international intervention in favor of Rebels backed up by powerful British or French seagoing ironclads.  The United States had no defenses against either menace.  Monitor would become a cultural icon of American industrial strength and ingenuity; she embodied and popularized social and institutional as well as industrial revolutions.   But this was largely a symbolic role that would far outshine her actual accomplishments beyond a single engagement in a specific set of circumstances.  Author and historian, Dwight Hughes delivers this presentation which takes Monitor from her inception in the mind of her brilliant inventor through the dramatic first clash of ironclads at Hampton Roads.  

Dwight Sturtevant Hughes writes and speaks on Civil War naval history (  Lieutenant Commander Hughes graduated from the Naval Academy in 1967 and served twenty years aboard warships, on navy staffs, and with river forces in Vietnam.  He holds an MA in Political Science and an MS in Information Systems Management.  Dwight authored A Confederate Biography: The Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah (Naval Institute Press, 2015) and is a contributing author at the Emerging Civil War blog ( 

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Brown Bag Briefs are offered on the third Wednesday of every month.   Topics are related to U.S. Naval History, museum collection objects, art, technological achievement, and people.  Occasionally, the program may be held on a different day to coincide with special observances.   Check our website for the most updated listing.   


Dwight Sturtevant Hughes