The area aft of the midships bulkhead was almost entirely devoted to the
Monitor's machinery. Two large, oval iron hatchways offered access to
this area through the midships bulkhead. When secured, these hatches made for
an airtight seal between the living and the engineering spaces of the ship.
This tight seal was necessary to maintain the draft to the boilers provided by
the engine room's belt-driven blowers.
The first area aft of the bulkhead was the ship's galley. A large iron
stove backed up to the Monitor's boilers, while various racks and
shelves held cookware and utensils. In the overhead, one found the gears and
the steam engines that revolved the Monitor's gun turret. Unlike
that in the forward areas of the ship, the floor here was not made of wood. The
fire risk in this part of the ship was great, so the Monitor's builders
installed a diamond-pattern, cast-iron floor plate throughout the engineering
and galley areas.
The galley also held the crew's and officers' "water closets." A pair of
below-waterline flushing heads could be found on the starboard side for the
enlisted men, while another stood on the port side for the officers. The
Monitor is one of the first vessels credited with utilizing
below-waterline flushing toilets, the operation of which took a little getting
used to. One account notes that the Monitor's surgeon was propelled off
his seat on a geyser of water because he operated the valves in the wrong
Conditions below deck were deplorable during the summer months. Temperatures
noted in logbook entries neared 100°F in the berthing areas even with the
ironclad anchored in the shade. During June and July, temperatures in the
galley topped 130°F on an almost daily basis, while in the engine room,
they approached an unbearable 150°F.
Behind the galley stove reared the Monitor's pair of Martin boilers. The
14-by-9-foot boilers provided the steam necessary to operate all of the ship's
various engines and pumps. The rest of the port and starboard sides aft of the
galley were partitioned for coal bunkers. A narrow passageway just barely two
feet wide led between the boilers and the coal bunkers. A sailor had to be
sure-footed navigating this walkway, for one misplaced step could land him
against the side of a scaldingly hot boiler.