Veteran's Day 2011: The Arts of War – Designing the Monitor

Eli Whitney Museum

Show Menu
Thumbnail of Veteran's Day 2011: The Arts of War – Designing the Monitor project

Vacation Program

  • Friday, November 11, 2011
  • 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • Designed for ages 8 to 12

When the American Civil War began, Cornelius Scranton Bushnell (born Madison, CT) was 32 years old. He had established himself as a railroad builder and investor. He had founded a shipyard in Fair Haven to construct steamships for the Navy. He was visiting Washington when the Confederates attacked. Bushnell roused a militia to help defend the city.

The South was rumored to be near completion of the Merrimack (CSS Virginia), an ironclad blockade buster. Bushnell took on the challenge of constructing an ironclad for the North. Bushnell abandoned his own design in favor of the Swedish-American John Ericsson's radical vision for the Monitor. Bushnell won swift approval for the unorthodox cheese box on a raft, arranged to construct the ship in 100 days, and deferred payment until after it had bested the Merrimack.

Build your own (battery-powered) USS Monitor, like Ericsson's model that Bushnell used to persuade Navy Secretary Gideon Wells (Cheshire Academy 1818) to launch a modern navy 150 years ago this Fall.

Back to Top