Battle of Hampton Roads Facts

March 8–9, 1862

Hampton Roads Battle facts, including dates, location, casualties, leaders, who won, and more interesting facts you might not know. This fact sheet provides a quick overview of the battle and is for kids doing research and students preparing for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.

John Lorimer Worden, Portrait, Brady

Lieutenant John Worden commanded the USS Monitor during the Battle of Hampton Roads. Image Source: Wikipedia.


The Battle of Hampton Roads was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America from March 8 to March 9, 1862, during the American Civil War.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: The Battle of Hampton Roads is also called the “Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack” and the “Battle of the Ironclads.”
  • Date Started: The battle started on Saturday, March 8, 1862
  • Date Ended: The battle ended on Sunday, March 9, 1862.
  • Location: The battle took place near the Gosport Shipyard — later named the Norfolk Naval Shipyard — in Virginia.
  • Who Won: The battle ended in a draw.
  • Civil War Campaign: The Battle of Hampton Roads was part of the Peninsula Campaign.

Monitor v Merrimac, Battle of Hampton Roads, Painting

This painting depicts the USS Monitor (right) and the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) firing on each other at the Battle of Hampton Roads. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Interesting Facts

  • The Battle of Hampton Roads was a naval engagement between two ironclads, the CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor.
  • Hampton Roads is a bay-like body of water formed by the confluence of the James, Elizabeth, and Nansemond rivers in southeastern Virginia.
  • In the case of Hampton Roads, the word “roads” is a nautical term for a partially sheltered body of water where ships may ride at anchor.
  • Passage through Hampton Roads is the only point of connection between Norfolk and the Chesapeake Bay (and subsequently the Atlantic Ocean).
  • On March 8, 1862, the Confederate commander of the CSS Virginia was Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan.
  • On March 9, 1862, the Confederate commander of the CSS Virginia was Lieutenant Catesby R. Jones.
  • The commander of the USS Monitor during the Battle of Hampton Roads was Lieutenant John Worden.
  • The Battle of Hampton Roads was the first engagement between two ironclads in the history of naval warfare.
  • The USS Monitor’s continued presence in Hampton Roads following the Battle of Hampton Roads enabled Union General George B. McClellan to initiate his Peninsula Campaign with an amphibious landing near Fort Monroe on March 17, 1862.
  • Flag Officer J. Tattnall scuttled the CSS Virginia in the James River on May 11, 1862, rather than let his ship fall into Union hands.
  • On January 1, 1863, the USS Monitor foundered during a storm off Cape Hatteras and went to the bottom of the Atlantic along with four officers and twelve crewmen.

Commanders and Forces Involved

Principal Union Commanders

  • Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough
  • Lieutenant John Worden

Principal Confederate Commanders

  • Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan
  • Lieutenant Catesby R. Jones

Union forces Engaged

  • Crew of USS Monitor

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Crew of CSS Virginia

Casualties and Statistics

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Undetermined

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Undetermined

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 369 (261 killed, 108 wounded)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 95 (78 killed, 17 wounded)

Results of the Battle of Hampton Roads

  • The outcome of the Battle of Hampton Roads was inconclusive and ended in a draw.
  • Neither ship had enough firepower to break through the armor of the other and eventually withdrew.

Timeline of the Battle of Hampton Roads

This list shows the main battles and events that took place before and after the Battle of Hampton Roads, and how it fits into the chronological order of the Peninsula Campaign.