5. John Ericsson in The Battery

John Ericsson, a Swedish inventor who became an American citizen in 1848, has two monuments in the city. Ericsson changed the way naval warfare would be battled by designing and building the ironclad U.S.S. Monitor during the Civil War. He wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln offering to build a ironclad vessel in 90 days. However, Ericsson, a brilliant engineer, inventor of air compressors, boilers, engines, locomotives, naval guns and the screw propeller, was at odds with the Navy after an accident in 1844 in which one of his cannon designs blew up killing the Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of State, and others.

Nonetheless, Ericsson was assisted by two men from Troy, New York, John Griswold and John Winslow. With their help, a letter of introduction was obtained from the Governor of New York and delivered to Lincoln. At a presentation of the Monitor to the Naval Board, Lincoln had the final word. He was holding the model studying its unique features and remarked, “All I have to say is what the girl said when she stuck her foot in the stocking. It strikes me there’s something in it!”

The ship was 172 feet long with a 41 foot 6 inch beam, constructed in parts all over New York State from Albany to Brooklyn. Two 12 inch guns would be housed in a revolving turret. The ship would have a flat deck with only 18 inches of free board and a draft of 10 feet 6 inches. This would allow the ship to easily operate and maneuver in any of the South’s inland waters.

On January 30, 1862, 101 days after the contract was signed, a ship that was unlike anything the world had seen slid down into the East River at the Continental Iron Works. The Monitor had devices containing over 40 original patents on board including a flush toilet. The U.S.S. Monitor steamed for Hampton Roads on March 6, 1862 and on the morning of March 9, 1862 entered the annals of history forever.

Sculpted by Jonathan Scott Hartley, this statue of Ericsson is on the perimeter of Battery Park on State Street across from Bridge Street.

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