US & Canada

USS Monitor sailors laid to rest at Arlington cemetery

The facial reconstruction of two Sailors whose remains were discovered inside the gun turret of the USS Monitor 6 March 2013
Image caption Scientists have reconstructed what the sailors may have looked like, but have been unable to identify them

The remains of two sailors who perished aboard US Civil War gunboat USS Monitor have been buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery.

The bodies and uniforms of the unidentified crewmen were recovered from the wreck in 2002.

The Monitor was part of the first iron-clad warship battle. It sank off North Carolina in 1862 with 16 men aboard.

About 750,000 men died in the Civil War between the northern and southern US states, which lasted from 1861-1865.

"These may very well be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington," US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said last month.

Image caption The remains of 14 sailors were never recovered

The Friday afternoon burial ceremony was attended by families of those who died on the Monitor and who may be related to the two sailors.

"Just as the crew of the Monitor fought tirelessly to keep their 'old-time knight in armour' afloat, so have many worked tirelessly since her loss to keep their commitment to her, and to the 16 sailors who answered the call-to-arms of a young nation in peril, and paid the ultimate price," said Kathryn Sullivan, acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) administrator.

The Monitor, sailed by the northern Union side, fought the southern Confederate battleship Virginia in the Battle of Hampton Roads on 9 March 1862.

It was the first battle between two ironclad ships and marked the end of the millennia-long era of wooden warships.

That battle is viewed by historians as a tactical draw. The Monitor prevented the Virginia from gaining control of the Hampton Roads, Virginia port, thus maintaining a federal blockade of the area around Norfolk, Virginia.

The Monitor sank in rough waters near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina later that year. The wreck was discovered in 1974 and is now a marine sanctuary.

Efforts to identify the crewmen were unsuccessful.W

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