Sailors Buried at Arlington 150 Years after Death

This print illustrates the famous Battle of the Ironclads.

In your American history classes, you may have learned about the Battle of the Ironclads, a Civil War sea battle that took place in March 1862. Although the USS Monitor had performed well in that conflict, she had a short career afterward. On December 31, 1862, the ship sank off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, while being towed. Of her 62-man crew, 16 sailors either drowned or went down with the ship. The others were rescued.

Two of the doomed Union sailors are back on dry land, albeit in poor physical condition. In 2002, divers brought up the Monitor’s gun turret from the deep. Found inside were the remains of two sailors who were trapped in the cramped space when the ship sank. Their identities are still unknown, although researchers have narrowed down the possibilities to the names Jacob Nicklis, Robert Williams, and William Bryan. Although their identities are still uncertain, we do have a good idea what the crewmen looked like. The most advanced facial reconstruction methods were used to re-create their faces, and the images have been widely publicized. (See Related Links, below.) Authorities hope that descendants will match the reconstructed faces to old family photos and identify the men with certainty. DNA evidence may eventually provide more information.

Though we’re not sure who they were, we do know the two sailors served their country bravely by going down with the ship. In keeping with their distinguished service, the sailors’ remains were buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery on March 8, 2013. The two sailors and 14 other crew members who died as the Monitor sank will be honored by a group marker at the cemetery.

Image credit: ã Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

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  1. pete says:

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  2. sam whygallstine von de esta says:

    como esta