A review of the career of the U.S. Ironclad Monitor, which was built in 152 days and lived only 11 months, turns the spotlight on a small but important section of the Civil War and brings to life the controversy, people and events of that time. The panic that swept the North when word came through of the refitting as an ironclad, the harried, hurried preparations for building the Monitor, the doubts about the ""iron shroud"" on her launching and Ericcson's firm faith in her, the corrections that had to be made before she steamed south and her problems in a heavy sea -- these are the opening for the engagement at Hampton Roads. The , whose maiden voyage took her straight into battle, made her first kill on March 8, 1862, accounting for vital Union ships; on her return found the Monitor, her 58 men worn and untried in their ship's performance, ready to protect the wooden ships. With the Merrimac four times bigger and with 10 guns to the Monitor's 2, with unknown hazards in firing, maneuvering, heat and morale, it was a battle that a new means of warfare and made decisive naval history. The scuttling of the Merrimac after the surrender of Norfolk, the fame of the impregnable Monitor, and her sinking in angry seas off Cape Hatteras are the finish of the story, which also deals with the issues and people, from Lincoln to the men aboard the ships. A retelling keeps an eye on the full values both of men and ships with warm observation.