Unlike Anything That Ever Floated, The Monitor and Virginia and the Battle of Hampton Roads, March 8-9, 1862, by Dwight Sturtevant Hughes, Savas Beatie, 194 pages, a Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table review by Arley McCormick

This is another instalment in the Emerging Civil War Series that will delight Navy enthusiasts and others. The author, Mr. Hughes, is a former Naval officer and well suited for describing one of the most exciting innovations to America’s sea power. In ten quick chapters he describes the technical aspects of the CSS Virginia and Monitor, the people that dared to dream what was possible, man it in war, and make history.

Contrasts of technology innovation compared to the standard ship of the line, the maneuver limitations and challenges, and the impact of weather and shipmates on the days and hours preceding the fight that has inspired writers for decades is well defined. There is ample discussion of the impact and context of war facing the Confederacy in the early months of 1862 and the administrative decisions and actions that proceeded construction and destruction of vessels in the fight. Excellent narratives detail the fight with supporting maps and topics that aroused the press, military leadership, and future historians and give clear unequivocal clarity to the events of the fight.

Readers will appreciate the abbreviated biographies of many key people who influenced and fought the battle on the water as they represent the character of America’s fighting men of the day. There is ample insight from various participants on the day that illustrate the fear, training, and memorable events. John V. Quarstein provides an excellent Afterword describing events most readers seldom pursue regarding ships, technology, and presidential guidance. And, Annexes provide ample tour guidance and orders of battle.

This is certainly a useful primer from the Emerging Civil War Series to add to your collection.