New technology met “the way we’ve always done things” in a big way on March 8, 1862, off the coast of Virginia. The old war sloop, the USS Cumberland, and four other wooden Navy sailing ships faced off against the CSS Virginia (formerly the Merrimack), the world’s first steam-powered and iron-clad warship. This ship instantly made every Navy ship in the world obsolete. The Union ships were all defeated or run aground. The Cumberland was sunk.
Cleaning out one of the cases at the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum, we found this great memento from this landmark sea battle that changed naval history forever. The painting shows the USS Cumberland on fire and being rammed by the CSS Virginia.