NPR : News

Filed Under:

150 Years Later, Civil War Sailors Get Arlington Burial

In this undated photograph provided by Naval History and Heritage Command, the crew of USS Monitor relax just outside of its turret.
U.S. Navy
In this undated photograph provided by Naval History and Heritage Command, the crew of USS Monitor relax just outside of its turret.

More than 150 years after they died when their ship sank during a storm, two Union sailors from the Civil War will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

The sailors' remains were discovered in 2002 during efforts to recover the 150-ton gun turret of the USS Monitor — the United States' first ironclad warship — from the site of the wreck off Cape Hatteras, N.C. The Defense Department's attempts to identify the remains over the last decade (including bone, teeth and DNA analysis) haven't been conclusive.

Still, as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has said: "These may very well be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War to be buried at Arlington."

The Monitor, as you may remember from your school days, was famous for its March 9, 1862, clash with the Confederate ship Virginia — the first battle between two ironclad warships. (The iron-armored Virginia was constructed using the hull of a Navy ship known as the USS Merrimack, so you may have learned about this as the Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack. It's also referred to as the Battle of Hampton Roads.) The battle — 151 years ago Saturday — ended in a draw, but it marked the beginning of the end of what you might call the dead-tree era of naval warfare.

When the Monitor sank on Dec. 31, 1862, 16 of its crew members were killed. All of those sailors will "be memorialized on a group marker in section 46" of Arlington cemetery, the Navy says. Friday's graveside ceremony, set for 4:30 p.m. ET, is open to the public.

"The Navy expects scores of relatives of those who served on the Monitor, including 21 descendants of some lost in the storm, to attend," USA Today reports:

 

 

"A possible descendant [of one of the two unknown sailors whose remains were found] could be Jamie Nicklis, a 46-year-old construction worker from near Columbus, Ohio, who plans to attend with son Brock, 15. The Navy identifies Jamie Nicklis as the great-grandnephew of seaman Jacob Nicklis, 21.

"Forensic analysis argues intriguingly that he may be the younger sailor whose remains are being interred at Arlington. A spoon with the initials 'JN' was recovered near the remains.

" 'It's pretty neat,' says Jamie Nicklis, who feels it is likely that his relative is one of those being buried. 'It felt really good to know that part of our family ... devoted his life and gave his life to serving in our military to help better our ways.' "

 

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

 

WAMU 88.5

Barry Meier: "Missing Man"

Nine years ago, former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran while on a mission for the CIA. The story of his secret journey to Iran, the CIA cover-up that followed and efforts to rescue the longest-held U.S. hostage.

NPR

5,000-Year-Old Chinese Beer Recipe Revealed

Researchers discovered ancient "beer-making tool kits" in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Analyses of funnels, pots and jugs show the brewers were using pretty advanced techniques.
WAMU 88.5

The Fight for D.C.'s Budget Freedom

Last week, a House committee with oversight of the District passed legislation that would block the ability of the Council to spend its own tax dollars.

WAMU 88.5

The U.S. Expands Ties To Vietnam

President Obama lifts the embargo against U.S. arms sales to Vietnam: Please join us to talk about what closer ties between the U.S. and Vietnam mean for trade, leverage on human rights and growing concerns over China's military expansion.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.