Melinda C. writes: I have a coin dated 1862. One side has a picture of the Merrimac and reads:THE FIRST IRON CLAD 1862.The opposite side reads: MADE FROM THE ARMOUR PLATE OF THE MERRIMAC. Can you tell me about this coin or point me in the right direction?
The C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimac) was the first iron-clad war ship. It was built by the Confederate States of America during the early part of the Civil War on the hull of the U.S.S. Merrimac abandoned at the Gosport Navy Yard, by the Federal Government, in April 1861. On March 8, 1862 she sunk or destroyed two wooden Union warships that were blockading Hampton Roads,Virginia. It was met the following day by the Monitor, the Union version of a iron-clad warship that fought the Merrimac to a standoff. The battle was historic as it was the first battle between steam powered, armored warships.
You have a modern 20th century tourist shop medal, not a coin. These medals were produced by a private company and purportedly contain a small portion of metal from the Merrimac’s armor plating. The C.S.S. Virginia (Merrimac) was run ashore near Craney Island and set on fire after being abandoned. She exploded at 4.58 a.m., May 11, 1862.