The USS Monitor was an ironclad Civil War ship of the Union Army that sank on December 31, 1862. The Monitor was famous for its battle with the Confederate ship CSS Virginia, (formerly the USS Merrimack), on March 9, 1862. It was the first ironside warship battle of the U.S. Army.

When the USS Monitor capsized, 63 of the crewmen survived the event, but 16 lost their lives, counting two men buried in the turret of the ship. There were seven black men aboard the vessel, some freed and some escaped slaves, all serving as sailors. They were: William Nichols, Siah Carter, William Scott, Robert Howard, Edward Cann, Daniel Moore and William Jeffrey.

Daniel Moore, a freedman from Virginia, was among the 16 men who lost their lives on the ship. Through geneology research, facts were learned about his family lineage. He never had a family of his own, but used his money to support his widowed mother. His father passed in 1843. He was one of seven children from the Edge Hill area in Prince William County, Virginia. Moore’s mother had been owned by a man named Jessie Ewell.

Today, a special burial ceremony is being held to honor the two unidentified white soldiers found in the turret of the USS Monitor. Their remains were exhumed with the ship and studied for genealogy. After 40 years of research by the Navy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., and many others, the unnamed soldier’s remains will be interred with military honors.

Artist Tom Freeman has presented a portrait featuring a black soldier shaking hands with President Abraham Lincoln, an event that has said to have actually occurred aboard the ship. The portrait will be unveiled at today’s ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Special thanks to Blackamericaweb.com’s senior political correspondent Michael Cottman for this story. Cottman, a member of the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, will be in attendance with many others for today’s ceremony. He is also working with descendants of an African American crew member who served on the USS Monitor.

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