March 9, 1862
One of the most iconic naval battles of the Civil War was the four hour duel between the ironclad vessels USS Monitor and the CSS Merrimac off of Hampton Roads, Virginia. While the battle ended in a virtual draw, historians have pointed to it as the end of the wooden warship era and the beginning of heavily armored ships.
The map shown here, entitled “Scene of the late Naval Engagement between….” does not directly depict the battle but both vessels, the USS Monitor and the CSS Merrimac, are shown and was likely prepared for newspaper publication to accompany articles onteh naval engagement.
Most newspaper and journal illustrations were printed from woodcuts. This form of reproduction, albeit crude, was inexpensive, reasonably quick to execute, and the woodblocks could be inserted into pages of text and printed on newspaper presses without difficulty. A close-grained hardwood, usually boxwood, cut against the grain, was employed to make the wood engraving. Usually the blocks consisted of several parts tightly bolted together from the rear. After the image was drawn on the block, the parts were separated and distributed among several wood engravers to be worked on simultaneously. Once the carving was completed, place names cast in type metal from a mold (stereotype) were cemented into place, the parts bolted together again, and the whole retouched to insure uniformity. made and the illustration was ready for printing. The entire process required approximately two weeks to complete from the time the sketch was received by the publisher.
[Scene of the late naval fight and the environs of Fortress Monroe, and Norfolk and Suffolk, now threatened by General Burnside].  New York illustrated news, v. 5. no. 124, Mar. 22, 1862, p. 317. 1 wood block ; 25 x 36 x 3 cm; accompanied by proof.
Catalog record: http://lccn.loc.gov/85690735