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Lincoln's Secret Weapon

Program Overview


NOVA follows chief archeologist John Broadwater, master diver Donny Denis, commander Chris Murray, and a 30-man Navy dive team as they mount an intensive effort to salvage and study the Civil War ironclad ship Monitor.

The program:

  • reports how having the Monitor allowed the North to reinforce its blockade of the South.

  • relates how the fight between the Monitor, the Union's first ironclad ship, and the Confederate ironclad Merrimack anticipated the end of wooden-ship warfare.

  • recounts the biography of its inventor, John Ericsson, a mechanical engineer who designed the screw propeller, the rotating gun turret, the air-ventilation system, and many other innovations.

  • tells the story of the battle of Hampton Roads where the two ironclad ships clashed, a battle some historians believe was more important than Gettysburg.

  • shows how the dive team faced particular salvage difficulties and dangers posed by the location of the Monitor wreck in the Atlantic's Graveyard near Cape Hatteras.

  • describes how maintaining strict procedures protects the divers from the physiological hazards of diving at depths more than 200 feet (61 meters).

  • reenacts the battle between the Monitor and Merrimack.

Teacher's Guide
Lincoln's Secret Weapon
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