Conflict & Justice

USS Monitor sailors buried at Arlington 150 years after death


Civil War enthusiasts depart following a funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery for two unknown sailors who were killed in 1862 when the USS Monitor sank off the coast of North Carolina.


Win McNamee

The United States Navy buried two sailors who died on the Civil War-era gunboat USS Monitor 150 years ago in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors today, ABC News reported.

The two men were among 16 Union sailors who died when the Monitor, an ironclad warship, sank off the coast of North Carolina in a storm in 1862, BBC News reported. Earlier that year, the Monitor had taken part in the first battle between two ironclad warships, preventing the Confederate battleship Virginia from gaining control of the Hampton Roads, Va., port.

"These may very well be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington," US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said last month, according to BBC News.

The sailors’ bodies were recovered from the wreck in 2002. Military forensic specialists determined that the men were among the nine white enlisted crewmembers who died, most of them immigrants from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, but were unable to identify them, USA Today reported.

Hundreds of people attended the service and graveside ceremony, including civil war enthusiasts in costume and nearly two dozen descendants of Monitor sailors, USA Today reported.

Andrew Bryan of Holden, Maine, was at the ceremony. He told ABC News he thought it was possible that one of the recovered sailors was his great grandfather, William Bryan, a yeoman on the ship. "He spent his life on the ocean, so if he's still there that's fine, but if this is him I want him to be recognized," he said.