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Few battles had more far-reaching consequences than the American Cvil War battle between the two first 'ironcalds' - fought in the harbour at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, built an iron fort containing ten heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack.

The North got wind of the project when it was already advanced and, in desperation, commissioned an eccentric inventor called John Ericsson to build the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship. At the time, it was arguably the single most complicated machine ever made. Abraham Lincoln himself was closely involved with the ship’s design. Rushed through to completion in just 100 days, it mounted only two guns; but they were housed in a shot-proof revolving turret.


Richard Snow, ‘writes with verve and a keen eye’ (The New York Times Book Review).


Iron Dawn is a magisterial account of one of the most imporatant battles in US naval history. Dr Amanda Foreman, author of W World on Fire & Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire.

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